Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Sonny Curtis

I Fought the Law

Written by Sonny Curtis and first recorded by The Crickets (1959).
First covered by Paul Stefan & the Royal Lancers (1962), Bobby Fuller (1964).
Hit versions by The Bobby Fuller Four (US #9/UK #33/CAN #11 1965), The Clash (recorded 1979 |UK #29 1988).

From the wiki: “Sonny Curtis (‘More Than I Can Say‘, ‘Theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show‘) joined The Crickets as lead vocalist and guitarist after Buddy Holly’s death in 1959. The Crickets recorded Curtis’ ‘I Fought the Law’ shortly thereafter, releasing it on the 1960 album In Style With The Crickets. (Had Holly had lived, there’s a good chance it would have been a huge hit for him with The Crickets.)

“A cover was recorded in 1962 by a Milwaukee, Wisconsin band, Paul Stefan & the Royal Lancers, and released on Citation Records. While the single was successful locally – it topped sales charts in Milwaukee in August and September 1962 – and was named a ‘Regional Breakout’ by Billboard (and was picked up for distribution in the UK by London Records), the Royal Lancers’ arrangement did not chart nationally.

“Bobby Fuller”s first attempt at recording ‘I Fought the Law’, in 1964 on Exeter Records, also became a regional success, this time in New Mexico and West Texas – his biggest local hit. In 1965, Fuller re-recorded by song (using the same group of musicians) for Del-Fi Records label and, with national promotional support, scored a Top 10 hit, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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):