Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Johnny Mercer

That Old Black Magic

First performed by Johnnie Johnston (1942).
First released by Gordon Jenkins & His Orchestra with Johnnie Johnston (1942).
Other hit versions by Judy Garland (1943), Margaret Whiting (US #10 1943), The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1943), Sammy Davis, Jr. (US #16 1955), Louis Prima & Keely Smith (US #18 1958), Bobby Rydell (US #21/CAN #13 1961).

From the wiki: “‘That Old Black Magic’ was written in 1942 by Harold Arlen (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics). The two wrote it for the 1942 film Star Spangled Rhythm, when it was sung by Johnnie Johnston and danced by Vera Zorina. ‘That Old Black Magic’ was nominated for the Academy Award for ‘Best Original Song’ in 1943 but lost out to ‘You’ll Never Know’ (from the movie Hello, Frisco, Hello).

G.I. Jive

Written and first recorded by Johnny Mercer (US #13/R&B #1 1943).
Other ht version by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (US #1/R&B #1 1944).

From the wiki: “”G.I. Jive” is a 1944 song written and originally performed by Johnny Mercer. Mercer intended to write a song that the soldiers on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific would like. ‘G.I. Jive’ proved to be the biggest hit of all the war songs during World War II (1939-1945) dealing with soldier life.

“Recorded first by Mercer in late 1943, ‘G.I. Jive’ was a hit … twice … in 1944 by two different performers: Mercer’s recording hit #1 on the Harlem Hit Parade for one week in January, and peaked at #13 on the pop charts. Six months later, Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five also made it to #1 with “G.I. Jive” on the Harlem Hit Parade for a total of five weeks AND hit #1 for three weeks on the Billboard ‘Most Played Juke Box Records’ national pop chart. Jordan’s B-side, “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby”, was also a charting success for the group.”

Winter Wonderland

First recorded by Richard Himber & His Ritz-Carlton Orchestra (1934).
Popular versions by Guy Lomabardo’s Royal Canadians (US #2 1934), Ted Weems & His Orchestra (US #13 1934), Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers (US #4 1946), Perry Como & the Satisfiers (US #10 1946), Johnny Mathis (UK #17 1958), Darlene Love (1963), Ramsey Lewis (US #27 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Winter Wonderland’, a winter song by design is, instead, popularly regarded as a Christmas song even though the holiday itself is never mentioned in the lyrics. It was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyricist). Smith, a native of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, was reportedly inspired to write the song after seeing Honesdale’s Central Park covered in snow. Smith wrote the lyrics while in the West Mountain Sanitarium, being treated for tuberculosis.

“The original recording was by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra on RCA Bluebird in 1934. At the end of a recording session with time to spare, it was suggested that this new tune be tried with an arrangement provided by the publisher. Himber’s ‘studio’ orchestra included many great New York studio musicians who later found great fame as individual stars, including Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Artie Shaw.

Sugar Blues

First recorded by Leona Williams & Her Dixie Band (1922).
Popular versions by Clyde McCoy (US #2 1931), Fats Waller (1935), Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (1936), Ella Fitzgerald & the Chick Webb Orchestra (1940), Johnny Mercer (US #4 1947).

From the wiki: “‘Sugar Blues’ was written in 1920 by Clarence Williams and recorded for the first time by Leona Williams (no relation) and Her Dixie Band in 1922. The song was made popular by Clyde McCoy in 1931, featuring the sound of the growling wah-wah mute. McCoy recorded it no less than four times, and it became his trademark song.

“‘Sugar Blues’ would also be recorded by Fats Waller (1935), Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys (1936), and Ella Fitzgerald (1940), and chart again on the Hit Parade in 1947 with a vocal cover by noted songwriter-lyricist Johnny Mercer (‘Satin Doll’, ‘Fools Rush In‘, ‘Jeepers Creepers‘).”

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