Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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White Rabbit

First recorded by The Great Society (1966, released 1968).
Hit version by Jefferson Airplane (US #8 1967).

From the wiki: “The Great Society made its debut at the Coffee Gallery in San Francisco’s North Beach section on October 15, 1965 and continued to perform throughout 1966.

“The band released only one single during its lifetime, the Darby Slick penned ‘Someone to Love’ (b/w ‘Free Advice’). The single was issued in February 1966 on Autumn Records’ tiny Northbeach subsidiary label and made little impact outside of the Bay Area. While signed to Autumn Records, the band worked with the label’s staff producer, Sylvester Stewart (better known as Sly Stone) who, at the time, was still in the process of forming his own band, Sly and the Family Stone. Purportedly, Stewart would eventually walk out as the band’s producer after it took The Great Society over fifty takes to record a version of the song ‘Free Advice’ that was suitable for release.

“Momentum for the band began to build as they started opening for Jefferson Airplane and other successful local bands, with Columbia Records offering The Great Society a recording contract. By the time the contract arrived in the mail, however, Grace had been spirited away to replace departing vocalist Signe Toly Anderson in the Airplane, taking ‘Someone to Love’ and her own composition, ‘White Rabbit’, one of Great Society’s live showcases, with her.

“Jefferson Airplane went on to record ‘Someone to Love’ (retitled as ‘Somebody to Love‘) and ‘White Rabbit’ themselves, with both songs being issued by the band as singles during 1967, reaching #5 and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 respectively.

“After Grace Slick had found fame with Jefferson Airplane, Columbia Records released tapes of live performances by The Great Society in 1968, on the albums Conspicuous Only in its Absence and How It Was. All of those performances were recorded at The Matrix, a small nightclub in the Cow Hollow section of San Francisco whose house band was Jefferson Airplane. These two albums were later repackaged as a double LP named Collector’s Item in 1971.

“‘The Great Society’ was a popular name for musical groups in the 1960s, due to the popularity of the term as used by the then President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. On one occasion, in Fort Worth, Texas, The Great Society (with Grace Slick) and a similarly named four-man group performed on opposite sides of the city on the same evening.”

Jefferson Airplane, “White Rabbit” (1967):

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