Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Kingsmen

Money (That’s What I Want)

Originally recorded by Barrett Strong (US #23/R&B #2 1959).
Other hit versions by Jennel Hawkins (R&B #17 1962), The Beatles (1963), Bern Elliot & the Fenmen (UK #14 1963), The Kingsmen (US #16/R&B #6 1964), The Flying Lizards (1979 UK #5/US #50).

From the wiki: “The song was written by Tamla founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford, and became the first hit record for Gordy’s Motown enterprise. The record was first released on the Anna label (operated by Gwen Gordy, Anna Gordy and Billy ‘Roquel’ Davis). Gwen and Anna’s brother Berry Gordy had just established his Tamla label (soon Motown would follow), and he licensed the song to the Anna label in 1960 to take advantage of its national distribution arrangement with Chicago-based Chess Records in order to meet demand.

Louie Louie

Written and first recorded by Richard Berry & The Pharoahs (1955).
Inspired by “El Loco Cha Cha” (Ricky Rillera & The Rhythm Rockers, ca. 1954).
Also recorded by Rockin Robin Roberts & The Wailers (1961), Paul Revere & The Raiders (US #103 1963).
Hit version by The Kingsmen (US #2 1963).

From the wiki: “By some accounts ‘Louie Louie’ is the world’s most recorded rock song with over 1,600 versions and counting (with many more amateur versions appearing regularly on YouTube and elsewhere). Richard Berry was inspired to write the song in 1955 after listening to and performing the song ‘El Loco Cha Cha’ with Ricky Rillera & The Rhythm Rockers. [Note: While the title of the song is often rendered with a comma (‘Louie, Louie’), in 1988 Berry told Esquire magazine that the correct title of the song was ‘Louie Louie’, with no comma.]

“Berry released his version in April 1957, originally as a B-side, with his backing band The Pharaohs. It became a regional hit on the West Coast, particularly in San Francisco. When the group toured the Pacific Northwest, other local R&B bands began to play the song, increasing its popularity. The track was then re-released as an A-side. However, the single never charted on Billboard’s national R&B or Pop music charts even though Berry’s label reported that the single had sold 40,000 copies. After a series of unsuccessful follow-ups, Berry sold his portion of publishing and songwriting rights for $750 to the head of Flip Records in 1959.