Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Erskine Hawkins

Caldonia (What Makes Your Big Head So Hard?)

First recorded by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (R&B #1 1945).
Other hit versions by Erskine Hawkins (US #12/R&B #2 1945), Woody Herman & His Orchestra (US #2 1945), James Brown (US #95 1964).
Also recorded by Champion Jack Dupree (1967), B.B. King (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Caldonia’ is a jump-blues song, written by Louis Jordan (but crediting his then-wife, Fleecie Moore, for tax-evading purposes) and first recorded in 1945 by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five. The lyrics may have been inspired by a real character: a tall Crescent City drag queen wearing oversized shoes.

“A cover version by Erskine Hawkins (‘Tuxedo Junction‘), also released in 1945, was described by Billboard magazine as ‘rock and roll’, the first time that phrase was used in print to describe any style of music. Woody Herman and his orchestra also covered ‘Caldonia’ in 1945, arranged by the young Neal Hefti, with Herman singing the lead vocal.

Tuxedo Junction

Co-written and first recorded by The Erskine Hawkins Orchestra (US #7 1940).
Other hit version by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #1 1940).
Also recorded by The Andrews Sisters (1940).

From the wiki: “‘Tuxedo Junction’ was co-written by Birmingham, Alabama, composer and band leader Erskine Hawkins, and saxophonist and arranger Bill Johnson. The song was first introduced by the orchestra led at the time by Hawkins – a college dance band previously known as the Bama State Collegians, made up of students from Alabama State University, who, in 1934, traveled to New York City and became the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, working also with the NBC Orchestra, the Lucky Millinder Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Louis Armstrong and others.

Tennessee Waltz

First released by Cowboy Copas (C&W #6 1948).
Other hit versions by The Golden West Cowboys (C&W #3 1948), Erskine Hawkins (R&B #6 1950), Patti Page (US #1/C&W #2/AUS #1 1950).

From the wiki:”Pee Wee King, and most of his group,the Golden West Cowboys, were riding in a limousine in 1946 when he and vocalist Redd Stewart co-wrote the song. They were on their way to a Grand Ole Opry appearance in Nashville when they heard Bill Monroe’s new ‘Kentucky Waltz’ on the radio. Stewart immediately began writing the lyrics on a matchbox while King and the other musicians hummed King’s theme song, ‘No Name Waltz’. King and Stewart presented ‘Tennessee Waltz’ to music publisher Fred Rose the next day. The Golden West Cowboys were not able to record ‘Tennessee Waltz’ until December 1947. Meanwhile, Cowboy Copas, who still occasionally performed with The Golden West Cowboys, recorded the song for King Records just after the Cowboys, with Copas’ version released just prior to that of the Cowboys.