Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Winter Wonderland

First recorded by Richard Himber & His Ritz-Carlton Orchestra (1934).
Popular versions by Guy Lomabardo’s Royal Canadians (US #2 1934), Ted Weems & His Orchestra (US #13 1934), Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers (US #4 1946), Perry Como & the Satisfiers (US #10 1946), Johnny Mathis (UK #17 1958), Darlene Love (1963), Ramsey Lewis (US #27 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Winter Wonderland’, a winter song by design is, instead, popularly regarded as a Christmas song even though the holiday itself is never mentioned in the lyrics. It was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyricist). Smith, a native of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, was reportedly inspired to write the song after seeing Honesdale’s Central Park covered in snow. Smith wrote the lyrics while in the West Mountain Sanitarium, being treated for tuberculosis.

“The original recording was by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra on RCA Bluebird in 1934. At the end of a recording session with time to spare, it was suggested that this new tune be tried with an arrangement provided by the publisher. Himber’s ‘studio’ orchestra included many great New York studio musicians who later found great fame as individual stars, including Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Artie Shaw.

“The biggest chart hit rendition of ‘Winter Wonderland’ at the time of its introduction in 1934 was performed by Guy Lombardo’s orchestra, a Top-10 hit, its popularity propelled by the song’s inclusion in that year’s Ziegfield Follies stage revue in New York City.

“Singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer took the song back onto the charts, in 1946, to #4 on the Hit Parade. The same season, Perry Como hit the retail Top-10 with the first of two recordings of ‘Winter Wonderland’ he would do during his career. (Como would record a new arrangement for his 1959 Christmas LP, Season’s Greetings.)

“Through the decades ‘Winter Wonderland’ has been recorded by over 200 different artists, among them Johnny Mathis (1958), Darlene Love (1963), and Ramsey Lewis whose 1961 recording from the Sounds of Christmas album would chart in 1966 as the B-side to ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’.”

Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, “Winter Wonderland” (1934):

Ted Weems & His Orchestra, “Winter Wonderland” (1934):

Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers, “Winter Wonderland” (1946):

Perry Como & the Satisfiers, “Winter Wonderland” (1946):

Johnny Mathis, “Winter Wonderland” (1958):

Perry Como, “Winter Wonderland” re-recording (1959):

Ramsey Lewis Trio, “Winter Wonderland” (1961):

Darlene Love, “Winter Wonderland” (1963):

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