Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Bee Gees

Come On Over

Written and first recorded by the Bee Gees (1975).
Hit version by Olivia Newton-John (US #23/MOR #1/C&W #5/CAN #22/NZ #3 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Come On Over’ was by Barry and Robin Gibb and was first recorded by the Bee Gees for their 1975 album Main Course, produced by Arif Mardin in Miami, FL.

“A year later, in 1976, Olivia Newton-John’s cover of ‘Come On Over’ was released as the title track and promotional single for her album Come On Over. Her recording peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also Newton-John’s sixth #1 in a row on the Easy Listening chart, for one week in April 1976. ‘Come On Over’ also peaked Top-5 on the US Country Singles chart.”

Love Me

Written and first recorded by The Bee Gees (1976).
Hit versions by Yvonne Elliman (US #20/UK #6/IRE #9/NZ #3 1976), Martine McCutcheon (UK #6 1999).

From the wiki: “‘Love Me’ was first recorded and released by the Bee Gees, released on the 1976 album Children of the World. It was written by Barry and Robin Gibb featuring Robin on lead with his falsetto (with Barry on the middle eight evidenced on the outro). This makes this song a curio among the group’s mid- to late-’70s tracks, as Barry sang most of the The Bee Gee’s lead vocals. Yvonne Elliman’s version was more successful than the Bee Gees’, reaching the Top-20 US chart, and Top-10 in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand. Martine McCutcheon remade ‘Love Me’ for her 1999 debut album You, Me & Us from which the track – serving as the BBC Children in Need single for 1999 – was issued as the third single.”


First recorded (as a demo) by The Bee Gees (1978).
Hit versions by Samantha Sang (US #3/R&B #42/UK #11 1978), Destiny’s Child (US#10/R&B #28/UK #3 2001).

From the wiki: “‘Emotion’ was written by Barry and Robin Gibb and was originally intended for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. During the planning for Australian singer Samantha Sang’s recording session another Bee Gees’ song, ‘Don’t Throw It All Away’, had been planned for Sang to sing but upon arriving in Miami, Barry instead offered her a new song: ‘Emotion’. Sang recorded it in a breathy, Barry-like sound. Gibb himself provided harmony and background vocals, using his falsetto on this track.

“In 2001, ‘Emotion’ was covered by the American R&B girl group Destiny’s Child. Issued as the fourth single from their third studio album, Survivor, the song continued the group’s streak of top-ten hits in the United States, peaking at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 20 November 2001. The song was heavily on radio station playlists during the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and eventually became a tribute song to the family of the victims.”

Turn Around, Look At Me

First recorded by Glen Campbell (US #62/MOR #15 1961).
Hit versions by The Letterman (US #105 1962), The Vogues (US #7/MOR #3 1968).
Also recorded by The Bee Gees (1964).

From the wiki: “‘Turn Around, Look at Me’ was written by Jerry Capehart. In 1961, Glen Campbell was the first to release the song, and it would become his first song to chart in the United States. The Letterman recorded a version in 1962 that ‘bubbled’ under the Billboard Hot 100. In 1964, while Bee Gees were still in Australia, they released a version of the song which did not chart. In 1968,

“The Vogues released their cover version in 1968, by far the most successful recording of the song, reaching #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.”


Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Barry Gibb (1982, released 2006).
Hit version by Dionne Warwick (US #10/R&B #14/MOR #1/UK #2/CAN #15/AUS #2 1982).

From the wiki: “‘Heartbreaker’ was written by Barry Gibb for Dionne Warwick, for her album Heartbreaker released in 1982. Gibb’s demo recording was not released until 2006.

“The song blended the two Gibb brothers schools of songwriting: it has the clear verse and chorus structure favored by Robin and Maurice, yet also has the longer spun-out verses Barry now preferred, both well balanced, so that it has instant appeal but takes repeated listenings to fully appreciate. Maurice said later that he wished they had saved it for themselves.

“Warwick admitted in The Billboard Book of Number One Adult Contemporary Hits, by Wesley Hyatt, that she was not fond of ‘Heartbreaker’ (regarding the song’s international popularity, she quipped, ‘I cried all the way to the bank’), but recorded it because she trusted the Bee Gees’ judgment that it would be a hit. It turned out to be Dionne’s most successful solo hit of the 1980s.”

If I Can’t Have You

Written and originally recorded by The Bee Gees (1977).
Hit version by Yvonne Elliman (US #1/UK #4/CAN #1 1977).

From the wiki: “According to Maurice Gibb, this track was the first song they recorded while producing the other songs for the film Saturday Night Fever. ‘If I Can’t Have You’ was originally intended to be sung for the film soundtrack by The Bee Gees while Elliman’s contribution would be another ballad written by the Gibb brothers, ‘How Deep Is Your Love’.

Islands in the Stream

First recorded (as a demo) by The Bee Gees (1983).
Hit version by Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers (US #1/C&W #1/UK #7/CAN #1/AUS #1/NZ #2/SWE #3 1983).

“Islands in the Stream” is a timeless song penned by the Bee Gees, taking its name from the classic Ernest Hemingway novel. Originally conceived in an R&B style for Diana Ross (or Marvin Gaye, depending upon which Gibb brother tells you the story), the Gibbs later adapted it for inclusion in Kenny Rogers’ album, Eyes That See in the Dark.

In a candid revelation on Good Morning America, Kenny Rogers shared his initial aversion to ‘Islands in the Stream’. Despite his reservations, the transformative moment came when producer and co-writer Barry Gibb recognized the missing piece. After days of experimentation in the studio, Gibb declared, ‘We need Dolly Parton to make this thing pop.’ Serendipitously, Ken Kragen, Kenny‚Äôs manager, encountered Dolly at a grocery store, swiftly bringing her into the project.

The magic unfolded after Dolly joined the session. Kenny Rogers, who had previously harbored doubts, experienced a change of heart, declaring, “Now, I like the song.” The collaboration between Rogers and Parton not only elevated “Islands in the Stream” to legendary status but also stands as a testament to the unpredictable and serendipitous nature of musical alchemy.

“Islands in the Stream” knocked Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” out of the #1 slot on the Billboard Hot 100, also topping the Country and Adult Contemporary listings. In December of that year, it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over two million physical copies in the US.

The song was equally an international success, topping the Australian music chart one for one week in December 1983, and peaking at #7 on the UK Singles Chart.

Robin Gibb, interviewed re: “Islands in the Stream”:

Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, “Islands in the Stream” (1983):