Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Thurston Harris

Over and Over

First recorded (as a B-side) by Bobby Day (US #41/R&B #1 1958).
Also recorded by Thurston Harris (US #96 1958).
Other hit version by The Dave Clark Five (US #1/UK #45 1965).
Also recorded by The Righteous Brothers (1965).

From the wiki: “‘Over and Over’ was written by Robert James Byrd and was recorded by him in 1958 using his stage name, Bobby Day (a name he earlier used when a member of the original ‘Bob & Earl’ duo until parting ways in 1957). Day’s version entered the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958, first as the B-side to the hit single ‘Rockin’ Robin’ and, soon after, as an A-side, the same week a version of the same song by Thurston Harris (who had covered Day’s ‘Little Bitty Pretty One‘ the previous year with chart success) entered the chart. Day’s version would reach #41 on the Hot 100 but would top the R&B chart; Harris’ single peaked on the Hot 100 at #96.

Hey Little Girl

Inspired by “Hambone” by The Red Saunders Orchestra with The Hambone Kids (1952).
First released by Thurston Harris (1958).
Hit version by Dee Clark (US #20/R&B #2 August 1959).

From the wiki: “Dee Clark was born Delecta Clark (or Delectus Clark, Jr.), in Blytheville, Arkansas, in 1938 and moved to Chicago in 1941. His mother, Essie Mae Clark, was a Gospel singer and encouraged her son to pursue his love of music.

“Clark made his first recordings in 1952 as one of the original members of The Hambone Kids, who enjoyed some success recording with The Red Saunders Orchestra for the OKeh record label. Clark embarked on a solo career in 1957, initially following the styles of Clyde McPhatter and Little Richard. When Little Richard temporarily abandoned his music career in 1957 to study theology, Clark fulfilled Richard’s remaining live dates and made his first recordings with Richard’s backing band, The Upsetters.

“First released in 1958 by Thurston Harris (‘Little Bitty Pretty One‘, 1957), with no apparent chart impact, ‘Hey Little Girl’ would be reach the Billboard Hot 100 Top-20 in 1959 with Clark’s cover. Written by Otis Blackwell and Bobby Stevenson, ‘Hey Little Girl’ surely felt a bit familiar to Clark. It was loosely based on ‘Hambone’, a song Clark had recorded with the Hambone Kids seven years earlier under his birth name, Delecta Clark. A Jo Stafford-Frankie Laine cover of ‘Hambone’ charted as high as #6 on the Billboard chart. Bo Diddley would also derive his ‘Bo Diddley beat’ from ‘Hambone’.”

Little Bitty Pretty One

Written and first recorded by Bobby Day & the Satellites (1957).
Hit versions by Thurston Harris (US #6/R&B #2 1957), Frankie Lymon (US #58 1960), Clyde McPhatter (US #25 1962), The Jackson 5 (US #13 1972).

From the wiki: “‘Little Bitty Pretty One’ was written and first recorded by Bobby Day. His single did not chart in the US but peaked at #11 on the Canadian CHUM-AM radio chart.

“Day’s first recording was ‘Young Girl’ in 1949 in the R&B group The Hollywood Flames. Day then spent several years with minor musical success limited to the West Coast, recording under numerous other names: The Jets, The Voices, The Sounds, The Crescendos, and as the original ‘Bob’ in the duo Bob & Earl with singer Earl Nelson. In 1957, Day formed his own band called the Satellites, following which he recorded three songs that are seen today as rock ‘n roll classics: ‘Little Bitty Pretty One’, ‘Over and Over’), and ‘Rockin’ Robin’.

“‘Little Bitty Pretty One’ received much wider popularity when covered in 1957 by Thurston Harris. Produced by the Los Angeles label Aladdin Records, and featuring the Sharps on backing vocals, Harris’ version reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart.