Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Roger Williams

Autumn Leaves

First performed (as “Les Feuilles Mortes”) by Iréne Joachim (1946).
First released by Cora Vaucaire (1948).
Also recorded by Yves Montand (1949).
First English-language release (as ‘Autumn Leaves’) by Jo Stafford (1950).
Also recorded by Bing Crosby (1951). Erroll Garner (1955).
Hit instrumental version by Roger Williams (US #1 1955).

From the wiki: “‘Autumn Leaves’ is a popular French song and jazz standard with music composed by Joseph Kosma. The original French song title was ‘Les Feuilles mortes’ [‘The Dead Leaves’]. But, it had its genesis as a poem, written in 1945 by Jacques Prévert for a French ballet called Le Rendezvous.

“Transformed into a song, it would first appear as the main theme of French movie before being released on record. ‘Les Feuilles mortes’ would later be translated into English by lyricist Johnny Mercer as ‘Autumn Leaves’. An instrumental version in 1955 by pianist Roger Williams became a #1 best-seller in the US, for four weeks.

Till

First recorded by The Percy Faith Orchestra (US #63 1957).
Other hit versions by Roger Williams (US #22 1957), Tony Bennett (UK #38 1961), The Angels (US #14 1961), The Vogues (US #27/MOR #5 1968), Tom Jones (UK #2 1971).

From the wiki: “Since there are many songs with ‘Till’ in the title, let it be clear that this is the one that starts: ‘Till the moon deserts the sky’, with music by Charles Danvers and English lyrics by Carl Sigman, and adapted from the French song ‘Prière Sans Espoir’ recorded in 1956. The Percy Faith Orchestra (with chorus) charted first, in April 1957. Later the same year, Roger Williams released a similarly mostly-instrumental recording that reached into the US Top 40. In 1961, Shirley Bassey and Tony Bennett each recorded all-vocal covers of ‘Till’, with Bennett’s version reaching #38 on the UK Single chart. Girl-group The Angels originated in New Jersey as The Starlets. After a failed attempt at record deal, producer Gerry Granahan (‘Ne-Ne Na-Na Na-Na Nu-Nu‘) heard some hit potential with a song The Starlets had performed for him in their audition, ‘Till’. ‘Till’ became the group’s first single under their new name, The Angels, and also their first hit (US #14) released by Granahan’s Caprice label in 1961.

Beyond the Sea

First recorded (in English) by Harry James & His Orchestra with Marion Morgan (1947).
Hit versions Roger Williams (US #37 1955), Bobby Darin (US #6/R&B #15/UK #8 1959), George Benson (UK #60 1984).

From the wiki: “‘Beyond the Sea’ is the English adaptation of a romantic love song (‘La Mer’) by Charles Trenet. Trenet was most famous for his recordings from the late 1930s until the mid-1950s. In an era in which it was unusual for a singer to write their own material, Trenet wrote prolifically and declined to record any but his own songs.

“According to legend, ‘La Mer’ was composed with Léo Chauliac on-board a train in 1943. Trenet explained in an interview that he was told that ‘La Mer’ was not ‘swing’ enough to be a hit, and for this reason the song sat in a drawer for two years before being recorded for the first time in 1945 by Roland Gerbeau. Trenet would record a cover of his own song also in 1946.

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