“In 1987, the song achieved worldwide success with a cover version by Hawaiian singer Glenn Medeiros. Medeiros had originally released his cover version on a small independent label at the age of 16, after winning a local radio talent contest in Hawaii. A visiting radio executive from KZZP in Phoenix, Arizona, heard the song and took the record back to Phoenix, where, through word of mouth, it grew to become an international hit.”
First recorded (as “La Mer”) by Roland Gerbeau (1946).
Also recorded (as “La Mer”) by Charles Trenent (1946).
First recorded (in English) by Harry James & His Orchestra with Marion Morgan (1947).
Hit versions Roger Williams (US #37 1955), Bobby Darin (US #6/R&B #15/UK #8 1959), George Benson (UK #60 1984).
From the wiki: “‘Beyond the Sea’ is the English adaptation of a romantic love song (‘La Mer’, ‘The Sea’) popularized in 1946 by French singer Charles Trenet, most famous for his recordings from the late 1930s until the mid-1950s. In an era in which it was unusual for a singer to write their own material, Trenet wrote prolifically and declined to record any but his own songs.
“According to legend, ‘La Mer’ was composed by Trenent on-board a train in 1943 as he was gazing out of the window at the Étang de Thau, a lagoon in the south of France. He jotted it down on a piece of paper and in the afternoon he worked out the details with his pianist Léo Chauliac. That evening they performed it in front of an audience without much of an impact. Trenet explained in an interview that he was told that ‘La Mer’ was not ‘swing’ enough to be a hit, and for this reason the song then sat in a drawer for two years before being recorded for the first time in 1945 by Roland Gerbeau. Trenet would record a cover of his own song also in 1946.
Written and originally recorded by Jose Feliciano (1975).
Hit album version by George Benson (1976).
From the wiki: “In 1975, on his last RCA album, Just Wanna Rock’n’Roll, guitarist Jose Feliciano released his jazz-funk-Latin instrumental composition ‘Affirmation’. It was covered a year later by jazz guitarist George Benson, on his hit album Breezin’.”
Originally recorded by Gabor Szabo (US #43 1971).
Hit version by George Benson (US #63/R&B #65 1976).
From the wiki: “‘Breezin” was written by Bobby Womack (‘It’s All Over Now‘) and first recorded by Hungarian Jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo. Szabó was famous for mixing jazz, pop-rock and his native Hungarian music. He began playing guitar at the age of 14, inspired by jazz music he heard on the Voice of America broadcasts. He escaped Hungary and moved to the United States in 1956, a year of the attempted revolt against Soviet-dominated Communist rule, and attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston.
Originally recorded by George Benson (US #24/R&B #2/UK #27 1977).
Other hit version by Whitney Houston (US #1/R&B #3/UK #8/AUS #1 1985).
From the wiki: “‘The Greatest Love of All’ was written by Michael Masser (‘Touch Me in the Morning’, ‘Saving All My Love for You‘) and lyricist Linda Creed (‘You Are Everthing’, ‘Betcha By Golly, Wow‘). The song was written and recorded to be the main theme of the 1977 film The Greatest, a biopic of the boxer Muhammad Ali, and was first recorded by George Benson for the film.
“Creed wrote the lyrics in the midst of her struggle with breast cancer. The words describe her feelings about coping with great challenges that one must face in life, being strong during those challenges whether you succeed or fail, and passing that strength on to children to carry with them into their adult lives. Creed eventually succumbed to the disease in April 1986 at the age of 37; at the time her song was an international hit by Houston.
Originally recorded by The Cookies (1962).
Also recorded (and released first) by The Crystals (1962).
Hit versions by The Drifters (US #9/R&B #7 1963) and George Benson (US #7/R&B #2 1978).
From the wiki: “Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann were based at Aldon Music, in NYC, and the song as written by Mann-Weil was originally recorded by The Cookies (although The Crystals’ version beat them to release) and featured an upbeat lyric in which the protagonist is still on her way to Broadway and sings ‘I got to get there soon, or I’ll just die.’
“For the Crystals’ recording, Phil Spector created his soon-to-be trademark cocktail of pizzicato strings, mandolins and castanets. His ‘Wall of Sound’ was inspired by, and reflects, the ‘neon lights of Broadway’, and might not even exist without Spector’s ‘On Broadway’ arrangement.
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