Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: George Shearing

Lullaby of Birdland

Co-written and first recorded by George Shearing (1952).
Hit versions by Ella Fitzgerald (US #31 1954), Blossom Dearie & Blue Stars (US #16 1956).
Also recorded by Sarah Vaughn (1954), Mel Tormé (1956), Amy Winehouse (2004).

From the wiki: “‘Lullaby of Birdland’ is a 1952 popular song with music by George Shearing and, later, lyrics by George David Weiss (under the pseudonym ‘B. Y. Forster’ in order to circumvent the rule that ASCAP and BMI composers could not collaborate).

“The song title refers to Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and the Birdland jazz club named after him on Broadway near 52nd Street in New York City. Shearing recalls that he wrote ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ for Morris Levy, the owner of the Birdland club. Levy had gotten in touch with Shearing and explained that he’d started a regular Birdland-sponsored disk jockey show, and he wanted Shearing to record a theme which was ‘to be played every hour on the hour.’ Shearing says he wrote ‘the whole thing […] within ten minutes.’

“First released by Shearing as an instrumental in 1952, vocal arrangements of ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ soon followed, with Ella Fitzgerald’s 1954 recording peaking at #31 on the Hit Parade.