Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Walk Right In

First recorded by Cannon’s Jug Stompers (1929).
Hit version by The Rooftop Singers (US #1/MOR #1/R&B #4/C&W #23/UK #10/AUS #1 1962).

From the wiki: “‘Walk Right In” is the title of a country-blues song written by Gus Cannon and originally recorded by Cannon’s Jug Stompers in 1929. Gus constructed his first banjo out of a steelpan and racoon skin, and began his career entertaining at sawmills, levee and railroad camps in the Mississippi Delta around the turn of the century.

“Cannon helped to popularize jug bands when, along with Noah Lewis and Ashley Thompson, he formed a band to play parties and dances. In 1914 Cannon began touring in medicine shows. He supported his family through a variety of jobs, including sharecropping, ditch digging, and yard work, but supplemented his income with music. Cannon’s Jug Stompers first recorded at the Memphis Auditorium in January 1928. (Modern listeners can also hear Cannon’s Jug Stompers’ recording of ‘Big Railroad Blues’ on the compilation album The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead.)

“In 1962, Rooftop Singers member Erik Darling recruited two friends to record a folk version of ‘Walk Right In’ after hearing the original Cannon recording. Darling wanted the record to have a distinctive sound, so he and group member Bill Svanoe both played twelve-string guitars on the song. Darling is quoted as saying that prior to the making of this record (in 1962), ‘you couldn’t buy a 12-string guitar … I ordered one from the Gibson Company, but in order to record [the song] with two 12-strings, we had to wait for the company to build a second one for Bill!’

“The Rooftop Singers’ single spent two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1963, and five weeks atop the MOR chart. In addition, ‘Walk Right In’ also charted on both the R&B and Country singles charts. It also sparked guitarists’ interest in the twelve-string guitar, including Roger McGuinn of The Byrds and used with great effectiveness by him on ‘Mr. Tambourine Man‘ in 1965.

“The success of the song by the Rooftop Singers was a boon to Cannon, who was in his late 70s and had been forced to pawn his banjo the previous winter to pay his heating bill. He received royalties as a songwriter and saw renewed interest in his music, which led to a recording contract of his own.”

The Rooftop Singers, “Walk Right In” (1962):

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