Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Chet Atkins

Yakety Sax

Co-written and first recorded by Randy Randolph (1958).
Hit version by “Boots” Randolph (US #35 1963).
Also recorded as “Yakety Axe” by Chet Atkins (C&W #4 1965).

From the wiki: “‘Yakety Sax’ was jointly composed by James Q. ‘Spider’ Rich and Homer ‘Boots’ Randolph III. The selection, which includes pieces of assorted fiddle tunes, was originally composed by Rich for a performance at a venue called The Armory in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

“Randolph’s song was inspired by the saxophone solo in the Leiber and Stoller song ‘Yakety Yak’, recorded in 1958 by The Coasters. Randolph first recorded ‘Yakety Sax’ that year for RCA Victor, under the name he used early in his career, ‘Randy Randolph’, but it did not become a hit until after his 1963 re-recording for Monument Records released under his better-known nom de plume, ‘Boots’ Randolph.

After Midnight

Written and first recorded by J.J. Cale (1966).
Hit versions by Eric Clapton (US #18 1970), J.J. Cale (re-recording US #42 1972), Eric Clapton (re-recording Rock #4/UK #99 1988).
Also recorded by The Pioneers (as “Let It All Hang Out” 1971), Chet Atkins (1972), Sergio Mendes (1972), Maggie Bell (1974), The Jerry Garcia Band (1980), Pretty Lights (2009).

From the wiki: “J.J. Cale wrote ‘After Midnight’ in 1966 and first released it as single (on Liberty Records) the same year with no apparent chart success. But, the song would become the catalyst for his future success.

“When Eric Clapton was working with Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell introduced Eric to Cale’s music. Among the songs that attracted Clapton’s attention, ‘After Midnight’ became the first to be released. It appeared on his 1970 self-titled debut album and was released as a single in late 1970, peaking at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Cale was unaware of Clapton’s 1970 recording until it became a radio hit. He recalled to Mojo magazine that when he heard Clapton’s version on his radio, ‘I was dirt poor, not making enough to eat and I wasn’t a young man. I was in my thirties, so I was very happy. It was nice to make some money.’ Cale’s friend and producer Audie Ashworth then encouraged J.J. to capitalize on the success of ‘After Midnight’ by recording a full album, Naturally, released in 1972. A re-recording by Cale of ‘After Midnight’ was taken from the album as a promotional single in 1972, peaking at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Walk, Don’t Run

Written and first recorded by Johnny Smith (1954).
Also recorded by Chet Atkins (1957).
Hit versions by The Ventures (US #2/R&B #13/UK #8 1960), The John Barry Seven (UK #11 1960), The Ventures (as “Walk, Don’t Run ’64” US #8 1964).

From the wiki: “‘Walk, Don’t Run’ is an instrumental composition written and first recorded by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith in 1954. In 1957, Chet Atkins recorded a version of ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ that appeared on his Hi-Fi in Focus album.

“It was the Atkins recording the Tacoma-based instrumental rock band The Ventures heard before releasing their own version of the tune as a Surf Rock single in spring 1960 on Dolton Records, which quickly became a hit.

“The Ventures’ version is believed to be one of the first ‘surf’ songs to make the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #2. In the UK, the tune was covered by the John Barry Seven (before Barry began scoring movie music for the likes of James Bond, Born Free, and Midnight Cowboy) whose cover of the Ventures’ arrangement peaked at #11 on the UK Singles Chart.”