Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Muddy Waters

I’m a Man (Bo Diddley)

First recorded by Bo Diddley (1955).
Inspired by “Hoochie Coochie Man” by Muddy Waters (1954).
Popular versions by the Yardbirds (1964), the Yardbirds (1965).

From the wiki: “‘I’m a Man’ is a rhythm and blues song written and recorded by Bo Diddley in 1955 (credited to ‘E[llas] Daniels’, Bo Diddley’s birth name), and was one of the first songs Diddley recorded for Checker Records.

“Unlike his self-titled ‘Bo Diddley’, recorded the same day (March 2, 1955 in Chicago), ‘I’m a Man’ does not use the ‘Bo Diddley beat’. Rather, it was inspired by Muddy Waters’ 1954 song ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, written by Willie Dixon. After Bo Diddley’s release, Waters recorded an ‘answer song’ to ‘I’m a Man’, in May 1955, titled ‘Mannish Boy’, a play on words on Bo Diddley’s younger age as it related to the primary theme of the song.

“In a Rolling Stone magazine interview, Bo Diddley recounts that the song took a long time to record because of confusion regarding the timing of the ‘M … A … N’ vocal chorus.

Baby, Please Don’t Go

First recorded by Big Joe Williams’ Washboard Blues Singers (1935).
Also recorded by Muddy Waters (1953), Mose Allison (1960), Georgia Fame (1963).
Hit versions by The Orioles (R&B #8 1952), Them (US #102/UK #10 1964).

From the wiki: “‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ is a blues song which has been called ‘one of the most played, most arranged, and most rearranged pieces in blues history’ by music historian Gerard Herzhaft. Delta blues musician Big Joe Williams popularized it with several versions beginning in 1935.

“The song’s roots have been traced back to nineteenth-century slave songs, dealing with themes of bondage and imprisonment. In 1952, a doo-wop version by The Orioles reached the R&B Top 10 (an early 45 rpm issue available only on red vinyl); Muddy Waters’ 1953 recording recast the song as an electric Chicago Blues ensemble piece, influencing many subsequent renditions.

Whole Lotta Love

Inspired by “You Need Love” by Muddy Waters (1963)
and “You Need Loving” by Small Faces (1966).
Hit versions by Led Zeppelin (US #4 1969 |UK #21 1997), Collective Consciousness Society (UK #13 1970), King Curtis & the Kingpins (US #64/R&B #43 1971), Tina Turner (US #61/R&B #43 1975), Goldbug (UK #3 1996).

From the wiki: “In 1962, Muddy Waters recorded ‘You Need Love’, written for him by peer Willie Dixon. Using Dixon’s lyrics, but without giving him credit, the British mod band the Small Faces recorded the song as ‘You Need Loving’ for their 1966 debut album.

“Some of the lyrics of Led Zeppelin’s version were copied (see below) from the Willie Dixon song, a favorite of Robert Plant’s. Plant’s phrasing is also particularly similar to that of Steve Marriott’s in the Small Faces’ arrangement. The distinct similarities with ‘You Need Love’ would lead to a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin in 1985, settled out of court in favor of Dixon. (Arguably, Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott of Small Faces also committed plagiarism but Led Zeppelin was the far, far larger and more visible act. Faces’ ‘You Need Loving’ had absolutely no chart presence in the US vs. Zeppelin’ ‘Whole Lotta Love’ charting in the Top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100.)

Got My Mojo Working (But It Just Won’t Work on You)

First performed and released by Ann Cole with The Suburbans and Orchestra (1957).
First recorded by Muddy Waters (1957).
Also recorded by Louis Jordan (1957), Muddy Waters (1960).
Hit version by Jimmy Smith (US #51/R&B #18/UK #48 1966).

From the wiki: “Late in 1956 Ann Cole went on a short tour through the Southern states with Muddy Waters, during which she regularly performed a new song written by Preston Foster, ‘Got My Mo-Jo Working’. The song impressed Muddy Waters, who recorded it in December 1956 when he returned to Chess Records, adding some of his own words and allocating himself the songwriting credit. Ann Cole recorded her version of ‘Mojo’ in January 1957, with The Suburbans and Orchestra, for Baton Records, as the follow-up to ‘Are You Satisfied’. Both versions of ‘Mojo’ were released in the same week in April 1957.

“The song has been the topic of copyright litigation. Dare Records, holder of songwriter Foster’s copyright, and Arc Records, holder of the McKinley Morganfield (a.k.a. Muddy Waters) copyright, settled out of court, with Arc deferring to Dare’s copyright. The two versions are still separately copyrighted. Nonetheless, MCA/Chess Records has credited the song to Foster in more recent years.