Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Gene Pitney

Hello Mary Lou (Goodbye Heart)

First recorded by Johnny Duncan (1960).
Hit version by Rick Nelson (US #9/UK #2 1961).

From the wiki: “‘Hello Mary Lou’ was written by Gene Pitney (‘Pretty Flamingo‘) and Father Cayet Mangiaracina, first performed and recorded by Johnny Duncan in 1960, and later recorded by Rick Nelson in 1961. Duncan’s recording took place at Norman Petty Studio, in Clovis, NM – where Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Buddy Knox, Waylon Jennings and others had also recorded – with Petty producing.

“Nelson’s recording features an influential guitar solo by James Burton (who is often cited as an influence by later guitarists such as Queen’s Brian May), and appeared on the Rick is 21 album (1961) – the first album to credit his first name as ‘Rick’; previous albums were credited to ‘Ricky Nelson’ … as was the promotional single.”

Pretty Flamingo

First recorded (as “Flamingo”) by Gene Pitney (1966).
Hit version by Manfred Mann (US #29/UK #1/CAN #2 1966).
Also released by Tommy Vann & the Echoes (1966).
Also performed by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (1975).

“Gene Pitney recorded the first version of ‘Pretty Flamingo’ in February 1966, for his album Backstage (I’m Lonely). But, Pitney’s recording was not released as a single when his album shipped to stores in June 1966, two months after Manfred Mann’s recording was released as a single in the UK and a month after the song topped the UK Singles Chart in May 1966. The Manfred Mann recording features future Cream bassist Jack Bruce, who briefly joined the band in 1965. (The original demo of the song was recorded by noted New York City vocalist Jimmy Radcliffe ((‘This Diamond Ring‘) stylized for The Drifters, but songwriter Mark Barkan was dissatisfied with the overly-produced results and had Radcliffe recut the song with a pared-down arrangement.)

“Some sources claim Tommy Vann’s 1966 release of ‘Pretty Flamingo’ was recorded in 1964, which would predate both the Pitney and Manfred Mann recordings.”

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