Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Leo Sayer

One Man Band

First recorded by Roger Daltry (1973).
Hit version by co-writer Leo Sawyer (US #96/UK #6 1974).

From the wiki: “‘One Man Band’ is a song first recorded in 1973 by The Who’s lead singer, Roger Daltrey, for his debut solo album Daltrey. It was written by David Courtney and Leo Sayer (‘The Show Must Go On‘, ‘More Than I Can Say‘), and features Daltrey’s Acoustic guitar strumming. According to Daltrey, it ‘reminiscences of Shepherd’s Bush’ (a place in west London where Daltrey had grown up and where The Who were formed) and became one the albums highlights; later being released as a single in its own right in some European territories but without any US chart success.

“The song was covered by the co-writer, Leo Sayer, a year later (1974) for his solo album Just a Boy and was also released as a single which later became one of Sayer’s biggest UK hits.”

The Show Must Go On

Co-written and first recorded by Leo Sayer (UK #2/IRE #3 1973).
Other hit version by Three Dog Night (US #4 1974).

From the wiki: “‘The Show Must Go On’ was written by Leo Sayer and David Courtney and first recorded by Sayer in 1973, becoming his first hit recording and was included on Sayer’s debut album Silverbird. The song uses a circus theme as a metaphor for dealing with the difficulties and wrong choices of life. Early in Sayer’s career, he performed it dressed and made up as a pierrot clown.

“The song was covered by Three Dog Night, whose version was released in 1974, and became the group’s final Top 10 US recording. In Sayer’s version, the last line of the chorus is ‘I won’t let the show go on’. Three Dog Night sang it as ‘I must let the show go on’, which Sayer was reportedly not happy about.”

When I Need You

Co-written and first recorded by Albert Hammond (1976).
Hit version by Leo Sayer (US #1/UK #1 1977).

From the wiki: “‘When I Need You’ is a popular song written by Albert Hammond (‘It Never Rains in Southern California’, ‘The Air That I Breathe‘) and Carole Bayer Sager (‘A Groovy Kind of Love‘, ‘That’s What Friends Are For’, ‘Theme to Arthur‘). Its first appearance was as the title track of Hammond’s 1976 album When I Need You. Leo Sayer’s version, produced by Richard Perry, was a massive hit worldwide, reaching #1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in February 1977 after three of his earlier singles had stalled at #2. It also reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 for a single week in May 1977 and the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks.”

More Than I Can Say

Written and originally recorded by The Crickets (UK #42 1960).
Other hit versions by Bobby Vee (US #61/UK #4 1961), Leo Sayer (US #2/UK #2 1980).

“‘More Than I Can Say’ is a tune penned by Sonny Curtis (‘I Fought the Law‘) and Jerry Allison, who were both part of Buddy Holly’s former supporting ensemble, The Crickets. This heartfelt composition was recorded in 1959, shortly after Holly’s tragic passing, and subsequently released in 1960. This original rendition of the song managed to climb to #42 on the British Record Retailer Chart, marking its chart debut on May 12, 1960.

“The following year Bobby Vee, known for his other chart-toppers like ‘Take Good Care of My Baby’ and ‘The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,’ decided to lend his voice to ‘More Than I Can Say.’ This rendition found its place at #61 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. However, across the Atlantic Ocean in the United Kingdom, the song and its B-side, ‘Staying In,’ ascended to an impressive #4 on the UK Singles Chart.

“Meanwhile, in a twist of fate, Leo Sayer stumbled upon the song while searching for a classic track to record for his album ‘Living in a Fantasy’ in 1980. It all began with a TV commercial promoting a greatest hits collection by Bobby Vee. Captivated by ‘More Than I Can Say,’ Sayer promptly decided to give it a go, recalling: ‘We walked into a record store that very afternoon, bought the record, and had the song recorded that very night.’

“Prior to this, Sayer had already enjoyed significant success with two number-one singles in the U.S., namely ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing’ and ‘When I Need You,’ both released in 1977. The cover version of ‘More Than I Can Say’ came close to claiming the top spot as well, lingering at the second position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks during December 1980 and January 1981. Unfortunately, it was unable to snatch the crown, as ‘Lady’ by Kenny Rogers and ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ by John Lennon held onto the coveted top positions respectively over the course of those five weeks.”

Bobby Vee, “More Than I Can Say” (1961):

Leo Sayer, “More Than I Can Say” (1980):