Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Rod Stewart

(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right

First recorded by The Emotions (unreleased 1972), Vera Brown (unreleased 1972).
First released by Luther Ingram (US #3/R&B #1 1972).
Other hit versions by Jackie Burns (C&W #72 1972), Millie Jackson (US #42/R&B #42 1974), Barbara Mandrell (US #31/C&W 1 1978), Rod Stewart (UK #23 1980), Rhonda Clark (R&B #26 1992).
Also recorded by Faces (1973).

From the wiki: “‘(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right’ was composed by Stax Records songwriters Homer Banks, Carl Hampton, and Raymond Jackson. Originally written for The Emotions, it was first recorded by The Emotions and also by Veda Brown, but neither of those recordings were ever released.

“The song has had a prominentchart presence, most notably by Luther Ingram whose 1972 arrangement topped the R&B chart for four weeks and rose to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Billboard ranked it as the #16 song in popularity for the entire year.

It’s a Heartache

First released by Juice Newton (MEX #3 1977 |US #86 1978).
Other hit versions by Bonnie Tyler (US #3/UK #4/CAN #1/AUS #1 1978), Dave & Sugar (C&W #32 1981), Trick Pony (C&W #22 2005).
Also recorded by Rod Stewart (2006).

From the wiki: “‘It’s a Heartache’ was written by Ronnie Scott & Steve Wolfe. Scott was working with Wolfe as a songwriting and producing team when they spotted Bonnie Tyler in ‘The Townsman Club’ in Swansea, Wales in 1976, and they became Tyler’s managers, songwriters, and producers, writing and producing eight out of the ten songs on Tyler’s first album, The World Starts Tonight (1977). The album included Tyler’s first two UK Top-30 hits, ‘Lost in France’ and ‘More Than a Lover’.

“Tyler’s second album, Natural Force (released in the US as It’s a Heartache in 1978) included five Scott/Wolfe songs including the track ‘It’s a Heartache’ which reached #4 in the UK, and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. The song had already been recorded and first released by Juice Newton almost a year earlier, in 1977.

(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons

First recorded (as “Sentimental Reasons”) by Deek Watson & His Brown Dots (1945).
Hit versions by The King Cole Trio (US #1 1946), Eddy Howard & His Orchestra (US #6 1947), Dinah Shore (US #6 1947), Ella Fitzgerald & Delta Rhythm Boys (US #8 1947), Sam Cooke (US #17/R&B #5 1957), James Brown (R&B #70 1976).
Also recorded by James Brown (1969), Linda Ronstadt (1986), Rod Stewart (2004).

From the wiki: “‘(I Love You) for Sentimental Reasons’ was written in 1945 by Ivory ‘Deek’ Watson, founding member of the Ink Spots, and William ‘Pat’ Best, founding member of the Four Tunes. The song was first recorded by The Brown Dots, a group Watson had first formed as the ‘New Ink Spots’ after he left the original group in a dispute. The original Ink Spots then filed a lawsuit to force Watson from using its name, resulting in Watson changing his ‘Ink Spots’ name, just barely, to ‘The Brown Dots’.

“The Brown Dots’ original recording of ‘Sentimental Reasons’ was first recorded and released in 1945 as the B-side of their second single, ‘Let’s Give Love Another Chance’. In 1946, it was released again – as an A-side – but it did not chart nationally.

Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?

Influenced by “Taj Mahal” by Jorge Ben Jor (1972).
Hit version by Rod Stewart (US #1/R&B #5/UK #1 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ was recorded by the British singer Rod Stewart for his 1978 album Blondes Have More Fun. It was written by Stewart, Carmine Appice and Duane Hitchings.

“It was alleged that Stewart created the song through partial musical plagiarism. A copyright infringement lawsuit was file by Jorge Ben Jor claiming ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’ was derived from ‘Taj Mahal’, incorporating certain elements of the melody first written and recorded by Ben Jor in 1972. The case was ‘settled amicably’ according to Ben Jor. Stewart admitted to ‘unconscious plagiarism’ of the Ben Jor song in his 2012 autobiography Rod: The Autobiography.”

The Motown Song

Written and first recorded by Larry John McNally (1986).
Hit version by Rod Stewart ft. The Temptations (US #10/MOR #3/UK #10 1991).

From the wiki: “‘The Motown Song’ was written by Larry John McNally and was originally recorded by McNally in 1986 for the Quicksilver movie soundtrack. In 1991, Rod Stewart covered ‘The Motown Song’ with the Temptations, for Stewart’s album Vagabond Heart.”


Written and first recorded by Sutherland Brothers (1972).
Hit version by Rod Stewart (US #58/UK #1/IRE #1/NOR #1 1975 |UK #3 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Sailing’ was written by Gavin Sutherland and recorded by The Sutherland Bros. Band (featuring the Sutherland Brothers Gavin and Iain). Released in June 1972, it can be found on the album Lifeboat but was never released as a single.

“Rod Stewart recorded the song at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama, for his 1975 album Atlantic Crossing, and it was subsequently a #1 hit in the UK in September 1975 for four weeks. The single returned to the UK Top 10 a year later when used as the theme music for the BBC documentary series Sailor, about HMS Ark Royal. It remains Stewart’s biggest-selling single in the UK, having been a hit there twice, with sales of over a million copies.

“Stewart’s music video was shot in New York Harbor in 1975 and credited with a 1978 completion date. It also was one of the first to be aired on MTV when the cable music channel launched on 1 August 1981. Despite Stewart’s great popularity in the United States, the song never climbed higher than #58 on the Billboard Hot 100.”

I Don’t Want to Talk About It

First recorded by Crazy Horse (1972).
Hit versions by Rod Stewart (US #46/UK #1 1977), Everything But The Girl (UK #3 1988), Rod Stewart (rerecording MOR #2 1989).

From the wiki: “‘I Don’t Want to Talk About It’ was written by Danny Whitten, and first recorded and released by Whitten’s band (and Neil Young’s backup group), Crazy Horse, on their 1971 eponymous album.

“In 1975, Rod Stewart recorded the song at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama, for his album Atlantic Crossing. Released as a promotional single in 1977, Stewart’s arrangement topped the UK Singles chart, although peaking at only #46 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1988, the UK duo Everything but the Girl released their cover version, from the Idlewild album, as a single which peaked in the UK at #3 but did not chart in the US.

“Stewart recorded a new arrangement of ‘I Don’t Want to Talk About It’ in 1989, for the album Storyteller – The Complete Anthology: 1964–1990. This arrangement did not chart on the Hot 100 but did peak at #2 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.”

That’s What Friends Are For

First recorded by Rod Stewart (1982).
Hit version by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Stevie Wonder & Gladys Knight (US #1/R&B #1/UK #16/CAN #1/AUS #1 1985).

From the wiki: “‘That’s What Friends Are For’ was written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager (‘Everchanging Times‘) and was first recorded in 1982 by Rod Stewart for the soundtrack of the film Night Shift.

“The Dionne Warwick & Friends cover recording in 1984 was a one-off collaboration featuring Warwick, Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder. It was released as a charity fund-raising single in the U.S. and U.K. to benefit the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Sales from the song raised over US$3 million for that cause.”

Have I Told You Lately

Written and first recorded by Van Morrison (UK #74/IRE #12 1989).
Hit version by Rod Stewart (US #5/UK #5 1993).
Also recorded by The Chieftains & Van Morrison (1996).

From the wiki: “‘Have I Told You Lately’ was written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and recorded for his 1989 album Avalon Sunset. Although it was originally written also as a prayer, and built on the same framework as Morrison’s ‘Someone Like You’, ‘Have I Told You Lately’ quickly became a romantic ballad often played at weddings. ‘Have I Told You Lately’ was listed as #261 on the ‘All Time 885 Greatest Songs’ compiled by Philadelphia radio station WXPN; in 2006, Van Morrison’s original recording was voted #6 on a list of the Top 10 ‘First Dance Wedding Songs’, based on a poll of 1,300 DJs in the UK. The song was awarded a Grammy in 1996, for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals, for the recording produced by The Chieftains and Van Morrison.”

Rhythm of My Heart

First recorded by René Shuman (1986).
Based on “Loch Lomond” (traditional).
Hit version by Rod Stewart (US #5/UK #3/CAN #1/IRE #1/AUS #2 1991).

From the wiki: “‘Rhythm of My Heart’ is a rock song written by Marc Jordan and John Capek for Dutch rock ‘n roll artist René Shuman’s 1986 debut album René Shuman, with a melody adapted from ‘Loch Lomond’.

Handbags and Gladrags

Originally recorded by Chris Farlowe (UK #33 1967).
Also recorded by Mike d’Abo, composer (1970), Kate Taylor (1971).
Other hit versions by Chase (US #84 1971), Rod Stewart (1969 |US #42 1972), Big George (2000), Stereophonics (UK #4/IRE #3 2001).

From the wiki: “‘Handbags and Gladrags’ was written by Mike d’Abo (Manfred Mann). In November 1967, singer Chris Farlowe was the first to release a version of the song, produced by d’Abo. It became a #33 hit in the United Kingdom for Farlowe from the album The Last Goodbye. In 1969, Rod Stewart recorded a version for his album An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down.

Country Comfort

First released (as “Country Comforts”) by Rod Stewart (June 1970).
Also recorded by Orange Bicycle (Sept 1970), Kate Taylor w/ Linda Ronstadt (1971).
Hit album version by Elton John (NZ #15 Oct 1970).

“Written by Elton John, ‘Country Comfort’ would be first recorded and released by two other artists (as ‘Country Comforts’) in the months prior to John’s own release in October 1970: by Rod Stewart (on Gasoline Alley) in June 1970, and by Orange Bicycle in September 1970.

Reason to Believe

Written and first recorded by Tim Hardin (1965).
Also recorded by Bobby Darin (1966), Marianne Faithful (1967).
Hit versions by Rod Stewart (as “(Find a) Reason to Believe” studio, US #62 1971), Rod Stewart (live, US #19/MOR #2/UK #51 1993).

From the wiki: ‘Reason to Believe’ is a song written and first recorded by American folk singer Tim Hardin in 1965. After having had his recording contract terminated by Columbia Records, after refusing to release an album of material he had recorded for them, Hardin achieved some success in the 1960s as a songwriter based in Greenwich Village. The original recording of ‘Reason to Believe’ comes from Hardin’s first authorized debut album, released on Verve Records, Tim Hardin 1, recorded in 1965 and issued in 1966 when he was 25.

Some Guys Have All the Luck

Originally recorded by The Persuaders (US #39/R&B #7 1974).
Also recorded by Nikki Wills (1981).
Other hit versions by Robert Palmer (US Rock #59/UK #16 1982), Rod Stewart (US #10/UK #15 1984), Louise Mandrell (as “Some Girls Have All the Luck” C&W #22 1985), Maxi Priest (UK #12/IRE #15/BEL #18 1987).

From the wiki: “[Jeff] Fortgang wrote many songs during his three years in the music business after graduating Yale in 1971, but sold only this one. He went on to get a PhD in Clinical Psychology, and still works in the mental health field in the Boston area. By the time ‘Some Guys Have All the Luck’ became a major hit (by Rod Stewart) in 1984, Fortgang had long before abandoned his dreams being a popular songwriter and was already well into a career as a psychologist.

Downtown Train

Written and first recorded by Tom Waits (1985).
Also recorded by Mary Chapin Carpenter (1987), Patty Smyth (US #95 1987), Bob Seger (1989, released 2011 MOR #11), The Piano Has Been Drinking (recorded as “Rude Jolf”) (1990), Everything But the Girl (1992).
Hit version by Rod Stewart (US #3/UK #10/CAN #1 1989).

From the wiki: “‘Downtown Train’ is a song written and first recorded by Tom Waits, released on his album Rain Dogs in 1985. The promo video for the song was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino and features the boxer Jake LaMotta.

The First Cut is the Deepest

First released by P.P. Arnold (UK #18 1967).
Also recorded by Cat Stevens, writer (1967).
Other hit versions by Norma Fraser (Jamaica, 1967), Keith Hampshire (CAN #1 1973), Rod Stewart (US #21/UK #1/CAN #11/AUS #19/ZIM #8 1976), Sheryl Crow (US #14/MOR #1/C&W #35/UK #37/IRE #13 2003).

From the wiki: “‘The First Cut Is the Deepest’ is a 1967 song written by Cat Stevens, originally released by P. P. Arnold in the spring of 1967. Stevens had made a demo recording of ‘The First Cut Is the Deepest’ in 1965 but had written the song only to promote his songwriting to other artists, and did not record it for commercial release until early October 1967. He sold the song for £30 to P. P. Arnold and it became a huge hit for her in the UK, reaching #18 on the UK Singles Chart.

“After several years touring the United States with the Ike & Tina Revue, P.P. Arnold emigrated to England in 1966. Impressed by her powerful and soulful voice, Mick Jagger convinced Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham to sign Arnold to a recording contract. During this period Arnold also toured alongside Delaney and Bonnie & Friends, Small Faces, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Kinks, Blind Faith, David Bowie and others, and she recorded several other hits including a 1969 UK #29 hit release of ‘Angel of the Morning‘.