Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Venus (Shocking Blue)

Inspired by “The Banjo Song” by The Big Three (1963).
Hit versions by The Shocking Blue (NETH #3/BEL #1/FRA #1/GER #1 1969 |US #1/UK #8/CAN #1/AUS #1/ITA #1/NZ #1/BZL #1/NETH #3 1970), Bananarana (US #1/UK #8/CAN #1/AUS #1/SUI #1/NZ #1 1986).

From the wiki: “‘Venus’ composer Robbie van Leeuwen admitted in a 2007 interview he took his inspiration for ‘Venus’ from the song ‘The Banjo Song’, written by Tim Rose as a lyrical parody set to the melody of Stephen Foster’s ‘Oh, Susannah’. ‘The Banjo Song’ was first recorded by The Big Three (the folk trio of Jim Hendricks, Tim Rose and a pre-Mamas & Papas Cass Elliot) in 1963.

“The Shocking Blue’s ‘Venus’ initially peaked at #3 on the Dutch Top 40 in July 1969, and remained at that position for a total of five weeks. ‘Venus’ did top the pop charts in Belgium, France and Germany upon its initial release.

“American songwriter and A&R man, Jerry Ross, who was in Europe in the autumn of 1969 looking for European hits for release in the United States, was offered the song. He signed the Shocking Blue to his newly-created Colossus Records, and chose the record for release in the United States in November 1969.

“‘Venus’ would hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 7 February 1970, becoming the first song by a Dutch band to reach #1 in the U.S. Its success in the United States prompted further interest in other markets around the world in the 1970. ‘Venus’ charted again in the Netherlands, peaking again at #3, as well as the Top-10 in the UK, and topping charts in Canada, Australia, Italy, Brazil, Singapore, and New Zealand.

“‘Venus’ had been a part of Bananarama’s repertoire for several years before they actually recorded it. The group’s three members, Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey, and Keren Woodward, had the idea of turning the song into a dance music tune, but they were met with resistance from their producers at the time, Steve Jolley and Tony Swain. Bananarama brought the idea to the production trio of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman, instead, and it became Bananarama’s first collaboration with the trio, topping the charts in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.”

The Shocking Blue, “Venus” (1969):

Bananarama, “Venus” (1986):

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