Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Wishing on a Star

First recorded by Rose Royce (R&B #52/UK #3 1978).
Other hit versions by Fresh 4 (UK #10 1989), The Cover Girls (US #9/UK #38 1992), Jay Z (UK #13 1998).

From the wiki: “‘Wishing on a Star’ was written by Billie Rae Calvin and produced by famed former-Motown ‘psychedelic shaman’ Norman Whitfield (‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine‘,’War‘,’Smiling Faces Sometimes‘), and was included on Rose Royce’s second album, Rose Royce II: In Full Bloom. The original recording of ‘Wishing on a Star’ was not a big hit in the US, peaking at #52 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, but was a big chart hit in the United Kingdom, reaching #3 in March 1978. A cover by Fresh 4, in 1989, also peaked in the UK Top 10. The Cover Girls released a version in 1992 that peaked in the US Top 10.

“Around 1973, Motown soul star Edwin Starr introduced the group T.C.U. to Norman Whitfield, who had been responsible for bringing a progressive Funk-Rock slant to Motown Records via his productions of, among others, Starr’s ‘War‘, The Undisputed Truth’s ‘Smiling Faces Sometimes‘ and The Temptations’ ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone‘. The timing was good. Whitfield, after more than a decade at Motown, was eager to start his own production company. He took the T.C.U. octet under his wing and signed them to his label.

“The group, now called Magic Wand, began working with Yvonne Fair and as the studio and touring band for The Undisputed Truth. During a tour stop in Miami, Undisputed Truth leader Joe Harris stumbled upon a singer named Gwen Dickey, then a member of a local group called The Jewels. Harris informed Whitfield of his discovery and Dickey was flown to Los Angeles to audition. In Dickey, Whitfield found the ingredient he felt was missing in Magic Wand: a charismatic female singer. He gave her the stage name Rose Norwalt. The original band lineup, now complete, prepared their debut album.

“During this time Whitfield was contacted by film director Michael Schultz, fresh from the success of his first feature, Cooley High. Schultz offered Whitfield the opportunity to score his next picture, Car Wash. Whitfield would utilize the film to launch his new group, and began composing music based on script outlines. The movie Car Wash and the soundtrack were great successes, bringing the group national fame. Whitfield won the Best Music award at the Cannes Film Festival, and the album received the Grammy for Best Motion Picture Score Album of the Year.

“The group’s follow-up album, Rose Royce II: In Full Bloom, produced two Top Ten singles, ‘Do Your Dance’ and ‘Ooh Boy’. It also included ‘Wishing on a Star’, which for Rose Royce was a Top-10 hit only in the UK; it became notable elsewhere through its cover versions, including The Cover Girls’ Top Ten single in 1992.”

Fresh 4 ft. Lizz E, “Wishing on a Star” (1989):

The Cover Girls, “Wishing on a Star” (1992):

Jay Z ft. Gwen Dickey, “Wishing on a Star” (1998):

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