Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: San Remo Music Festival

Love Me Tonight

First performed (as “Alla Fine Della Strada”) by Junior Magli (1969) & The Casuals (1969) @ the Sanremo Music Festival 1969.
Recorded (as “Love Me Tonight”) by The Casuals (1969).
Hit version by Tom Jones (US #13/MOR #2/UK #9/CAN #4/IRE #7/BEL #2 1969).

[Above: Junior Magli’s performance at the 1969 Sanremo Music Festival]

[Above: The Casuals’ performance at the 1969 Sanremo Music Festival]

From the wiki: “Junior Magli made ​​his debut in the early 1960s, performing in various Italian clubs and competitions and publishing some 45 songs under his real name, Luigi Pazzaglini, before adopting the stage name ‘Junior Magli’. In 1968, Magli recorded a cover of ‘Delilah’ (the 1968 Tom Jones hit), with which he participated in the 1968 International Music Fair in Venice.

“In 1969, Magli entered the Festival of Sanremo and, in conjunction with the expatriate UK band the Casuals, premiered ‘Alla Fine Della Strada’. (According to the competition rules, every song entry was performed in a double performance by a couple of singers or groups.) But, neither Magli or The Casuals made the competition short-list.

Softly, As I Leave You

First recorded (as “Piano”) by Mina (1960).
Hit versions by Matt Munro (US #18/UK #10 1961), Frank Sinatra (US #27/MOR #4 1964), Elvis Presley (C&W #8 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Softly, as I Leave You’ was first composed in Italian as ‘Piano’ (trans. ‘softly’) by Giorgio Calabrese and Tony De Vita. It was first performed by Mina at the 1960 Sanremo Music Festival, and was first released as a recording by her in 1960.

“English songwriter Hal Shaper noticed the song and in November 1961 wrote English-language lyrics to the melody, titling it ‘Softly, As I Leave You’. The best-known versions of this are those by Matt Munro (#10 on the British charts in 1962) and Frank Sinatra (#27 on the Billboard Hot 100/#4 on the MOR chart in 1964). When the Sinatra family announced Frank’s death on May 14, 1998, they placed an announcement on his website that was accompanied by his recording of ‘Softly, As I Leave You’.

Help Yourself

First performed (as “Gli occhi miei”) by Wilma Goich (1968), Dino (1968).
First recorded (as “Gli occhi miei”) by Riccardo del Turco (1968).
Hit version by Tom Jones (US #35/UK #5/AUS #1/IRE #1/GER #1 1968).

[Wilma Goich, “Gli occhi miei” San Remo Festival performance (1968)]

[Dino, “Gli occhi miei” San Remo Festival performance (1968)]

From the wiki: “‘Help Yourself’ is a reworked English-language version of the Italian song ‘Gli Occhi Miei’, written by Carlo Donida with lyrics by Mogol and originally performed by both Dino (Eugenio Zambelli) and Wilma Goich in separate performances at the 1968 San Remo song festival, and was first commercially recorded by Riccardo del Turdo in 1968.

“Jack Fishman wrote the English lyrics, which bear no relation to the original Italian, and the song was retitled ‘Help Yourself’. Recorded by Tom Jones, it became one of his best-known hits and reached the Top 5 in the UK in its original run. ‘Help Yourself’ topped the charts in Ireland, Germany and Australia. The American single peaked at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100.”

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

First performances (as “Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)”) by Pino Donaggio (ITA #1 1965) and Jody Miller (1965).
First (English-language) recording by Willeke Alberti (1965).
Hit versions by Dusty Springfield (US #4/UK #1 1966), Elvis Presley (US #11/UK #9 1970), Guys ‘n Dolls (UK #5 1976), The Floaters (US #28 1977).

From the wiki: “‘Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)’ was introduced at the 1965 Sanremo Festival by Pino Donaggio – who’d co-written the song with Vito Pallavicini – and his team partner Jody Miller (‘He’s So Fine‘, ‘Never Let Her Go‘): the song took seventh place at San Remo and, as recorded by Donaggio, reached #1 in Italy in March 1965.

“Willeke Alberti was a Dutch singer and actress, starting her career at the early age of eleven in the musical Duel om Barbara, recording her first single in 1958 together with her entertainer father, Willy Alberti. Willeke and her father had a television show between 1965 and 1969. Her singing career from 1970 onwards was less active. In 1994, she returned to the state to representd the Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song ‘Waar is de zon?’ (‘Where is the sun?’).