Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Who Do You Love

Written and first recorded by Bo Diddley (1956).
Also recorded by Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks (1963), Quicksilver Messenger Service (1967, released 1999), The Band feat. Ronnie Hawkins (1976).
Hit versions by The Woolies (US #95 1967), Quicksilver Messenger Service (US #97 1969), Juicy Lucy (UK #14 1970), George Thorogood & the Destroyers (1978).

From the wiki: “‘Who Do You Love?’ was written by rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley, and it remains one of his most popular and enduring works. ‘Who Do You Love?’ was part of Bo Diddley’s repertoire throughout his career, but none of his various recordings reached the record charts. First recorded in 1956 and released as the B-side to ‘I’m Bad’, it did not chart. The song reached a bigger audience when it was included on his first compilation album, Bo Diddley, released in 1958.

“In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Bo Diddley’s original song at #133 on their list of the ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’. In 2010, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences acknowledged it with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, which ‘honor[s] recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance’.

“‘Who Do You Love?’ first charted in 1967 when a Lansing, Michigan, band, the Woolies, had a regional hit that peaked at #95 on the Billboard Hot 100. A UK band, Juicy Lucy, also charted with the song in 1970. The most familiar version, however, was released in 1978 by American blues rock singer and guitarist George Thorogood and the Destroyers who recorded ‘Who Do You Love?’ for their second album, Move It on Over. Although not released as a single, Thorogood’s arrangement became an FM rock radio staple, becoming one of his band’s most identifiable and popular songs. In 1985, Thorogood performed ‘Who Do You Love?’ with Bo Diddley at the Live Aid benefit concert in Philadelphia.

“An early cover of ‘Who Do You Love?’ was recorded by rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins. Hawkins had performed the song as early as the late 1950s before going into the studio in 1963 with his band, the Hawks (who would later become The Band). Hawkins’ single was a hit in Canada, according to writer Oliver Trager, but its release predated Canadian record chart compiler, RPM magazine. Except near the border in the Great Lakes area, the record was largely unnoticed and did not appear on the Billboard charts. In 1976, Hawkins would perform ‘Who Do You Love?’ with the Band for The Last Waltz concert film and album.

“San Francisco psychedelic rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service made “Who Do You Love” a feature of their live performances. The group attempted at least one studio recording in 1967 during the sessions that led to their first album, Quicksilver Messenger Service. The demo from those sessions was officially released on the 1999 album Unreleased Quicksilver Messenger Service – Lost Gold and Silver. A 25-minute live adaptation was included on Quicksilver’s second album, Happy Trails, that was edited from 1968 recordings at the Fillmore East and/or Fillmore West. Rock music critic Greil Marcus calls Messenger’s ‘Who Do You Love’ ‘one of the best rock’n’roll recordings to emerge from San Francisco [and] some of the finest hard rock ever recorded.’

“At over twenty-five minutes, Quicksilver Messenger Service’s arrangement was too long for commercial radio airplay. Capitol Records prepared an edited 3:35 version for release as a single. It became Quicksilver’s first appearance on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart, where it reached #91 in 1969. The Happy Trails record album, with the song taking up the entire first side, became a best seller at #27 in the album chart. Rolling Stone magazine included the album at #189 on its list of the ‘500 Greatest Albums of all Time’.”

Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks, “Who Do You Love?” (1963):

The Woolies, “Who Do You Love?” (1967):

Quicksilver Messenger Service, “Who Do You Love?” demo (1967):

Quicksilver Messenger Service, “Who Do You Love? (Pt.1)” single edit (1969):

The Band feat. Ronnie Hawkins, “Who Do You Love?” from The Last Waltz (1976):

George Thorogood & the Destroyers, “Who Do You Love?” (1978):

George Thorogood & Bo Diddley, “Who Do You Love?” live performance at ‘Live Aid’ (1985):

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