Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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The Greatest Love of All

Originally recorded by George Benson (US #24/R&B #2/UK #27 1977).
Other hit version by Whitney Houston (US #1/R&B #3/UK #8/AUS #1 1985).

From the wiki: “‘The Greatest Love of All’ was written by Michael Masser (‘Touch Me in the Morning’, ‘Saving All My Love for You‘) and lyricist Linda Creed (‘You Are Everthing’, ‘Betcha By Golly, Wow‘). The song was written and recorded to be the main theme of the 1977 film The Greatest, a biopic of the boxer Muhammad Ali, and was first recorded by George Benson for the film.

“Creed wrote the lyrics in the midst of her struggle with breast cancer. The words describe her feelings about coping with great challenges that one must face in life, being strong during those challenges whether you succeed or fail, and passing that strength on to children to carry with them into their adult lives. Creed eventually succumbed to the disease in April 1986 at the age of 37; at the time her song was an international hit by Houston.

“Benson’s 1977 version was an R&B hit, reaching #2 on the R&B chart; and a moderate Pop hit, making it into the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. Clive Davis, founder of Houston’s label Arista Records, was initially against Houston recording the song for her self-titled debut studio album, Whitney Houston, but he eventually gave-in after persuasion from Houston and co-writer Masser. It was first released as the B-side to ‘You Give Good Love’; then, eventually released as an A-side in its own right. Houston’s version reached #1 on the Hot 100 chart for three weeks in 1986.

“Many critics called the song the centerpiece of Houston’s debut album. It became the fourth hit (and third #1) from the album, and the song would rank #11 on Billboard’s year-end Pop singles chart.

“In April 1987, Gordon Lightfoot filed a lawsuit against co-writer Masser, alleging that the song stole twenty-four bars from Lightfoot’s 1969 hit ‘If You Could Read My Mind’. Said Lightfoot, ‘It really rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t want the present-day generation to think that I stole my song from him.’ Lightfoot would later drop the suit when he felt it was having a negative effect on Houston, as the suit ‘was about Masser and not her.'”

Whitney Houston, “The Greatest Love of All” (1985):

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