Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Tony Orlando

Halfway to Paradise

First recorded by Tony Orlando (1961).
Hit versions by Bill Fury (UK #3 1961), Bobby Vinton (US #23 1968).
Also recorded by Nick Lowe (1977).

From the wiki: “‘Halfway to Paradise’ was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and was first recorded in 1961 by Tony Orlando in the United States, released as a single without any chart impact.

“The song had more success in the United Kingdom, recorded by Billy Fury where it reached a peak at #3 on the UK Singles Chart in 1961, and it remained on the UK charts for 23 weeks. ‘Halfway to Paradise’ also marked the beginning of Fury’s burst at the top of the charts that would only begin to slow down with the arrival of fellow Liverpudlian act, The Beatles.

“Bobby Vinton revived ‘Halfway to Paradise’ in 1968 in a mellow, more romantic version that charted in the Top 40. Nick Lowe released an arrangement of ‘Halfway to Paradise’ as a promotional single (from the album Jesus of Cool) in 1977, without any chart impact.”


First released by The Corporation (1970).
Hit version by Dawn (US #3/UK #9/CAN #2/SWE #1/BRA #1/SNG #1 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Candida’ was written by Toni Wine (‘A Groovy Kind of Love‘) and Irwin Levine, songwriters for Don Kirshner at Screen Gems Music. Wine recalls: ‘We knew we wanted to write a Latin-flavored song, because of the areas that we grew up in, a lot of Latin and R&B music were being combined, and I grew up in Spanish Harlem. We needed a three-syllable name. But, Rosita had already been taken. Juanita was a hit. Maria had happened. So, Candida had been a name that I had toyed with and, there, she became a reality.’

He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You)

Co-written and first recorded (as “He Will Break Your Heart”) by Jerry Butler (US #7/R&B #1 1960).
Other hit version by Tony Orland & Dawn (US #1/MOR #1/CAN #4/NZ #28 1975).

From the wiki: “The song was written by Jerry Butler (‘Moon River‘), Calvin Carter, and Curtis Mayfield (who sings backup on the Butler recording). First recorded by Butler and released as a single in 1960, it peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In addition, Butler’s recording spent seven, non-consecutive weeks at #1 on the U.S. R&B chart.

Could It Be Magic

First recorded by Featherbed feat. Barry Manilow (1971).
Based on “Prelude in C Minor” by Frederic Bach.
Hit versions by Barry Manilow (US #4/UK #25 1975), Donna Summer (US #52/Dance #3/UK #40 1976), Take That (UK #3 1992).

From the wiki: “‘Could It Be Magic’ was co-written by Barry Manilow and Tony Orlando (based on Chopin’s Prelude in C-Minor) and first recorded by Featherbed, a `ghost’ group consisting of session musicians led by the vocals of a very young Manilow. Manilow, in 1970, was unproven as a pop-song arranger and was therefore not permitted to arrange the original backing track himself upon the song’s first release in 1971. Instead, the original version of the song was produced under the hand of producer Tony Orlando.

“Manilow is said to have hated the Orlando arrangement so severely that he was appreciative of the fact that the song went absolutely nowhere on the music charts. Featuring a bubblegum pop beat, cowbells and a ‘Knock Three Times’ feel, the original lyrics have nothing in common with the subsequent 1973 hit version by Manilow (with its completely different meter and arrangement) although the chorus remained the same.