Act Naturally - I'd been sent a version by one Bob Houston that supposedly predated Buck Owens' hit, but Owens was the first to record the song, on 2-12-63.
Alley Oop - The version by the Prehistorics (as "Alley Oop Cha-Cha-Cha," Edsel 779) was not, as I had been led to believe, done before the Hollywood Argyles' hit. And contrary to some online posts, writer Dallas Frazier did not cut "Alley Oop" in the '50shis first recording of it was in 1966 (for his album Elvira).
Beg, Borrow And Steal - The song was first released by the Rare Breed (Attack 1401) but it's the same recording as the hit (re)issued by the Ohio Express.
Beth - The pre-Kiss version of "Beth," titled "Beck," was done by Chelsea (which included future Kiss drummer Peter Cris, aka Criss) around 1970 but it was a demo, not on their lp (Decca 75262). Was it even ever officially issued?
Blowin' In The Wind - It's been written that the New World Singers' version was first, issued on 1963's Broadside Ballads Vol. 1 (Broadside 301). The song was first published in Broadside (magazine) in May, 1962 and writer Bob Dylan recorded his on July 9 of that year. Despite the notation of 1962 in the reissue set The Best Of Broadside, New World Singers member Happy Traum recalls their session for it being in February, 1963.
Born A Woman - Despite numerous references to Patty Michaels' being first, hers was done 5-9-66 while Sandy Posey's hit was cut 3-15-66.
Born To Be Wild - One-time Steppenwolf guitarist Dennis Edmonton (aka Mars Bonfire) wrote the song after leaving the group and submitted his demo to them. They super-charged his slow, bluesy arrangement creating the enduring hit. Steppenwolf recorded theirs in late 1967 and Bonfire's self-titled album (Uni 73027, issued mid-1968) contained his subsequent take on the song, not his demo.
Born To Run - The Hollies' singer Alan Clarke did cut "Born To Run," but not before Bruce Springsteen's.
Both Sides, Now - Dave Van Ronk met "Both Sides, Now" writer Joni Mitchell in early 1967, when she lived in Detroit. Later that year upon moving to New York City, Joni reconnected with Van Ronk in the Greenwich Village folk scene. It was then that he picked up the song from her and issued it on the Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters album (Verve Forecast 3041). The recording date available for his version (which he renamed "Clouds," and Joni insisted he add [From Both Sides Now] to the title) is 12-12-67. Dave seems a likely candidate for the original but Judy Collins' future hit version was on her late 1967 album Wildflowers. Short of finding definitive recording dates for Judy's and Van Ronk's, Collins' will hold the edge.
Caribbean - Mitchell Torok hit the country charts with his 1953 single on Abbott. Six years later he was on the pop charts with a different recording of the song, issued on Guyden. It turns out both versions were cut at the same 1953 session!
Chick-A-Boom (Don't Ya Jes' Love It) - Prior to Daddy Dewdrop's 1971 hit, the song was in the December 12, 1970 episode of the animated TV series Sabrina And The Groovie Goolies. This version, credited to the Rolling Headstones, was never commercially issued, although it is included in the program's DVD set and now on YouTube. The Groovie Goolies later had their own spin-off show and the original recording was used again in a 1972 episode.
Daddy Dewdrop was a pseudonym for Dick Monda, one of Sabrina's music producers.
Clinging Vine - Bobby Vee was the first to record this 1964 Bobby Vinton hit, on 12-17-62, but it's yet to be issued.
Cold Sweat - James Brown's 1964 "I Don't Care" (King 5922) is often referenced as the source for his hit "Cold Sweat," but the only thing they have in common (other than being funky JB tunes) is their first two lines.
Come See About Me - Nella Dodds issued the first single of this (Wand 167), but the Supremes had recorded it earlier (July, 1964) as an lp track. Dodds' record prompted the Supremes' release as a 45.
Cuddly Toy - The Monkees cut their popular version 4-26-67 and writer Harry Nilsson had it on his first album, Pandemonium Shadow Show. Nilsson started sessions for the LP in early 1967, but didn't cut "Cuddly Toy" until June 12th. His March 17th demo of the song was done specifically for the Monkess.
Daydream Believer - Former Kingston Trio member John Stewart wrote this but didn't record it until after the Monkees' hit.
Da Doo Ron Ron - Although it's tempting to assume the Raindrops' (essentially co-writers Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich) was the original, it was cut in response to the Crystals' hit and was not the demo. (This according to Ellie Greenwich as told to writer Cub Koda.)
Do Right Woman - There's no date available for William Bell's (on his lp Soul Of A Bell, Stax 719) but Aretha Franklin's hit (begun 1-24-67 and finished 2-8-67) was most likely first. Sandy Posey was actually the earliest to record the song, on 1-20-67, but hers has yet to be released
Do You Want To Know A Secret - The Beatles recorded their hit on 3-11-63, just ahead of Billy J. Kramer's, done 3-14-63.
Don't Think Twice, It's Alright - The New World Singers were the first to issue the song as a single (Atlantic 2190), but theirs was recorded after Bob Dylan's.
Draggin' The Line - Tommy James first issued this in 1970, as a B-side on Roulette 7093. The following year, horns were added to a remix, and its rerelease (Roulette 7103) became a big hit for him.
Dreamy Eyes - For years I assumed the Youngsters' version (Empire 109) preceded the Four Preps' hitand judging from all the online references to that effect, I wasn't alone. According to Youngsters member Charles Everidge, the group learned the song from a Four Preps 45! They must have worked quickly though as the Preps' record was cut September 14, 1956 and issued October 29, while the Youngsters' came out in November. Of course it's possible they had access to an early, or test, pressing.
Duke Of Earl - It was recorded by the Du-Kays (which included Gene Chandler, né Eugene Dixon) but after Nat Records passed on it, Vee Jay issued it (the same recording) under Chandler's name. There is some evidence of the song being issued on Nat 4003 but, according to r&b writer Marv Goldberg, this was probably done following the hit on Vee Jay.
Fame - The funky grooves of David Bowie's hit have a lot in common with James Brown's "Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved)." It would seem that Bowie borrowed from the Godfather Of Soul, but it was the other way around! "Fame" began charting in June of 1975 and Brown didn't begin his "Hot" sessions until September. The "Fame" riff came from Bowie's guitarist, Carlos Alomar, first done by him for David's concert performances of the Flares' "Foot Stompin'." John Lennon was present for the "Fame" session and further encouraged the guitarist to work with the riff. Alomar had previously played with the Main Ingredient and even the James Brown band, so he had the funk credentials. By the mid-'70s, Brown was facing numerous personal and legal problems and, in this case, he had sunk to imitation.
Fire & Rain - R.B. Greaves' single charted considerably before James Taylors' but Taylor recorded it first.
For Your Love - Herman's Hermits singer Peter Noone has stated he thinks his group was the first to record this Yardbirds hit. Without a recording date for theirs, the nod still goes to the Yardbirds, who cut it 2-1-65 and had it out the following month. Herman's Hermits' version, on their On Tour album, was released in May, 1965.
From A Jack To A King - Five years before Ned Miller's 1962 hit on Fabor 114, he'd issued the song on Dot 15601. Other than a slight difference in processing, the two were the same recording.
Gimme Little Sign (Brenton Wood hit) -This was (supposedly) first recorded by Wilbert Wade but it remains unreleased.
Gimme Some Lovin' - This Spencer Davis Group hit, written by Steve Winwood, was first issued in the States by the Amercian band the Jordan Brothers (Philips 40415). They had learned it from a "demo," which turned out to be the Spencer Davis recording later released in the UK (as "Gimme Some Loving," Fontana 762). Their US hit was the same version with added percussion and backing vocals.
Girls Just Want To Have Fun - Robert Hazard cut this 1983 Cyndi Lauper hit in 1979 but it was his songwriter's demo.
Good Golly Miss Molly - The Valiants' recording (Keen 34004) may have been released earlier, but Little Richard's hit was cut first (10-15-56). Keen Records wasn't even formed until April, 1957. The Valiant's record originally listed only Bumps Blackwell as writer while Richard's included co-writer John Marascalco. Later Valiants pressings had both names. (Bumps Blackwell's demo, where in he mentions Marascalco and Little Richard, has also been issued.)
Got My Mojo Working (But It Just Won't Work On You) - Singer Ann Cole picked it up from writer Preston Foster. Muddy Waters was sharing a tour with Cole and, after hearing her perform the tune, cut what he remembered of it, appropriating the writing credit along the way (Chess 1652). Ann Cole's 1957 recording (Baton 237) is often cited as the original but Muddy cut his December 1, 1956. Numerous court battles ensued but Foster's claim of authorship has prevailed.
He Stopped Loving Her Today - George Jones' hit had been previously recorded by Johnny Russell on January 18, 1979. Russell's track was scheduled to be on his album Perspectives, listed as Mercury 5019, but it appears to never have been released.
Hello Dolly - Tempting as it may be to think Carol Channing did this first (as she was starring in the Broadway play of the same title), Louis Armstrong cut his hit on December 3, 1963, while hers was done 1-16-64.
Here Comes My Baby - The Tremeloes' hit was released 1-67 and it's natural to think writer Cat Stevens' version would've been earlier. In fact, his album with the song, Matthew & Son (Deram 18005), has liner notes by producer Mike Hurst that imply it was recorded in 1966. But Cat Stevens' CD issues with "Here Comes My Baby" lists it as having been cut on February 1st, 1967.
Here Comes The Hotstepper - Ini Kamoze (as Ini Kamozi) recorded this as "Hot Stepper" in 1990 (Jamaican Exterminator no #) but his hit four years later used the same vocal track, sped up, with a different backing mix.
Here Comes The Night - Based in New York, Bert Berns traveled to England in October, 1964, wrote "Here Comes The Night" and produced recordings of it by Them and Lulu. Although Lulu's was issued first (Parrot 9714), hers was recorded a week after Them's, leaving their popular version as the original.
(Ben E. King's "Here Comes The Night" [Atco 6207] is a different song.)
Hernando's Hideaway - Written for the stageplay The Pajama Game, the cast album was cut 5-16-54. Archie Bleyer's hit began charting 5-22-54 making it likely that his was done first.
Hey Baby - At least one record price guide listed the version by the Ban Lons (Fidelity 4051) as having been issued in 1959. Were this true, it would have preceded Bruce Channel's hit but, alas, it was an error that was corrected to read 1962 in subsequent editions.
Home Of The Brave - While recordings by Jody Miller (Capitol 5483) and Bonnie & The Treasures (Phi-Dan 5005) both hit the Billboard chart 8-28-65, Miller's went on to be the hit. Phil Spector, who oversaw Bonnie & The Treasures', thought he had an exclusive with the song and mounted a promotional campaign touting hers as the original. There are also numerous online citings of Bonnie's being first. But according to recording dates I've found for both, Jody's was cut earlier: Miller's on 7-9-65 and Bonnie's on 7-24-65.
Honey Hush - Joe Turner wrote and first had a hit with this proto rock & roll number in 1953. Fleetwood Mac's "Hi Ho Silver" (from their 1970 album Kiln House) is essentially the same song, but theirs is credited to Fats Waller and Ed Kirkeby. Waller indeed recorded a "Honey Hush" in 1939 (Bluebird 10346) but it's a different song. Fleetwood Mac obviously confused the two.
Horse, The - Cliff Nobles' hit was the instrumental backing track to his recording titled "Love Is All Right," which was the flipside to "The Horse" (Phil L.A. Of Soul 313). Credited writer Jesse James' early version of "Love Is All Right" was issued in 2000 (UK Soul City SC131) but to me it sounds like a demo.
I Can Only Dream About You -Dan Hartman's hit was taken from the Streets Of Fire soundtrack. He wrote the song but it wasn't his recording that was used in the movie. The film version was voiced by Winston Ford, then Hartman substituted his own vocals for the soundtrack album and single issues. What would be considered the original, with Winston's voice, has not been commercially released.
I Can Only Give You Everything - (Them's garage classic) Co-writer Tommy Scott issued his in Germany (Ariola 19158) but it was recorded after Them's.
I Don't Need No Doctor - Co-writer Nick Ashford recorded it August 20, 1966 (Verve 10463), three month before Ray Charles' single charted, but Ray cut his in April that year.
I Drove All Night Long - Cyndi Lauper had a hit with this in mid-1989 and Roy Orbison, who died in 1988, had a version of it on his 1992 album King Of Hearts. This seems like Roy's would qualify as an original, but his recording (done in 1987) was a demo. Producer Jeff Lynne later added backing tracks and essentially reconstructed Orbison's version for release.
I Go To Pieces - Peter & Gordon's hit was cut 10-28-64 while writer Del Shannon did his on 5-3-65. Peter & Gordon picked up the song from the demo done by Lloyd Brown, a Battle Creek, Michigan club singer.
I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) - Jerry Vale was not the first to record the Electric Prunes' hit as rumored. It's also been written that he cut the song's demo but it was actually Jerry Fuller.
I Know What Boys Like - The Waitresses' hit song on Polydor had previously been issued (as "Wait Here, I'll Be Right Back") on the Akron, Ohio compilation album Bowling Balls From Hell (Clone 11). It would be easy to assume the local version is different but the two recordings are the same.
I Want To Take You Higher - Prior to this Sly & The Family Stone hit, the group had done a song titled simply "Higher." The two are only vaguely related and it was "Higher," not "I Want To Take You Higher," that was derived from Billy Preston's "Advice" (Capitol 5660, 1966).
I'm A Believer - Writer Neil Diamond cut his 2-67, while the Monkees' hit had been done in October of 1966.
In The Ghetto - This appeared on Sammy Davis' 1970 album Something For Everyone (Motown 710) but the recordings were brought with him from his days at Reprise. I'd assumed he cut it in 1968, prior to Elvis Presley's, done 1-21-69. Further research has shown Davis recorded his 11-18-69, leaving Elvis's hit the first.
In The Year 2525 - Zager & Evans' 1969 #1 hit on RCA Victor had been issued the year before on the Truth label (no number). There are variations in the mix, but the two are the same recording.
Just One Look - Doris Troy co-wrote this (as Doris Payne) and cut a demo. Andy & the Marglows recorded it with Doris doing backing vocals (Liberty 55570), which was issued just prior to Troy's. She didn't care for their arrangement and Atlantic then released her demo, which became the hit.
Just To Be With You - A recording issued after the Passions' 1959 hit, credited alternately to Paul Simon or his pseudonym Jerry Landis, is the song's demo made by Simon and Carol Klein (soon to be renamed Carole King).
Keep On Running - I always assumed writer Jackie Edwards' version preceded the Spencer Davis Group hit but new evidence points to the sequence being: Jackie Edwards demo, Spencer Davis Group, then Edwards' proper/released recording.
Keep Your Hands To Yourself- The Georgia Satellites first issued the song on their 1985 debut lp (Keep The Faith on Spray 301, released only in England) but it's the same recording and mix as the hit on Elektra.
Kicks - It was suggested to me that Del Shannon's version may have been first, but his was done 4-1-66 while Paul Revere & The Raiders' hit was cut 1-3-66.
Kiss - Prince gave his acoustic demo of the song to Mazarati, a group he had signed to his Paisley Park label. Hearing their version, Prince took the song back, added his vocals and other touches to their backing track, resulting in a #1 hit for him. "Kiss" did not appear on Mazarati's self-titled Paisley Park LP. While their recording has since shown up online, it's not clear if/how it has been legitimately issued.
Lay Down Your Arms - Anne Shelton's was cut prior to the Chordettes' hit but hers charted for eight weeks in the US (it was a #1 UK hit).
Let It Be - Paul McCartney offered the song to Aretha Franklin, who recorded it around October, 1969. Hers was the first issued, in February, 1970, on her album This Girl's In Love With You (Atlantic 8248). The Beatles however had been working on the song for some time, starting in January of '69. The group continued to tinker with it, adding overdubs, and eventually releasing multiple versions of "Let It Be." It's hard to say definitively that Aretha's was first so we'll just allow the Beatles' (likely) claim as the original to stand.
Limbo Rock - The Champs recorded this before Chubby Checker but their version charted significantly; for 13 weeks reaching the pop Top 40 in Billboard.
Lollipop - Writers Ronald & Ruby did record this Chordettes hit first but theirs also charted significantly, reaching #20 in Billboard.
Love Hangover - There are many references to Sylvester cutting this prior to Diana Ross's hit, but no evidence of its existence. It appears Sylvester did perform the song live but a recording of it by him has yet to surface.
Loves Me Like A Rock - Despite its record number (Peacock 3198) being in sequence with the label's 1970 releases, the Dixie Hummingbirds' version was recorded 7-19-73. That makes it clearly later than Paul Simon's, whose lp containing the songThere Goes Rhymin' Simonwas released in May of 1973.
Mama Didn't Lie - Jan Bradley's hit was recorded first and originally issued in November, 1962 on Formal Records (1044). Writer Curtis Mayfield then (also) produced the Fasinations' version (ABC-Paramount 10387) that was released soon after Chess reissued Bradley's, around December.
Memphis Underground (Herbie Mann hit) - Even though they are both funk instrumentals, Willie Mitchell's 1966 single "Mercy" (Hi 2112) is not really the basis for Mann's tune, as one tipster proposed.
Misery - Although not a major Beatles song, it's notable anytime someone (possibly) records a Lennon-McCartney song before theirs. In early February, 1963 the Beatles were on an UK tour under Helen Shapiro and were hopeful she would record their recently-composed song "Misery." Shapiro's manager dismissed it without even consulting her but Kenny Lynch, another British singer on the tour, decided to record it (His Master's Voice 1136). The Beatles had cut theirs during a marathon session on February 11, making it unlikely that Lynch's was first.
Mr. Lonely - Bobby Vinton's 1964 hit had been issued two years earlier by Buddy Greco (Epic 9536), so it would be easy to assume Greco's was first. Bobby's, however, had been a track on his 1962 album Roses Are Red (Epic LN 24040/BN 26020). Vinton had begun writing the song while in the army and recorded it on February 12, 1962. Epic records wouldn't issue it as a single back then, trying instead for a hit with Greco's version. After including it on Vinton's first Greatest Hits lp, it became a chart-topper for him. (Despite Epic Records' hype that both used the same backing track, they are close but not identical.)
The Videls' "Mister Lonely" (JDS 5004, 1960) is a different song.
Nadia's Theme (The Young And The Restless) - Barry DeVorzon & Perry Botkin, Jr. recorded this as "Cotton's Dream" for the 1971 film Bless The Beasts & Children. The song became a hit in 1976 as "Nadia's Theme" but it was the same recording as on the five-year-old soundtrack.
Niki Hoeky - It seemed likely someone could have cut this before P.J. Proby's hit but then I learned Proby had worked with "Hoeky's" co-writers Pat and Lolly Vegas on the TV show Shindig. The Vegas brothers were part of the Shindig house band and Proby made a few appearances on the program.
The Cleftones' "Neki-Hokey" (Gee 1016) is a different song.
Oh, Pretty Woman- A singer named Curtis Byrd had a record out called "Pretty Woman" (Candix 340) years before Roy Orbison's "Oh Pretty Woman" hit. I was skeptical about them being related and, after hearing Byrd's, can report they are are not the same song. There is a connection though in that Orbison is a co-writer of the former! A couple lyric lines are similar to Roy's chart topper but otherwise this is merely an interesting thread between the two.
1-2-3 - While there are melodic similarities, I don't think Len Barry's hit "1-2-3" was really a rewrite of the Supreme's "Ask Any Girl" (flip of "Baby Love"). Motown must've thought otherwise since their prime writing trioHolland, Dozier and Hollandis given co-credit on some later issues of "1-2-3."
Only The Young - Journey had a big hit with this in 1985 while Scandal's version was out in 1974. Jouney's, however, had been recorded in 1973 during their Frontier album sessions but it wasn't released until its inclusion on the Vision Quest soundtrack (and subesquent single).
Out In The Country - A group called Skin had this out (Melba 6001) around the same time as Three Dog Night's hit. Interestingly, both sides of the Skin 45 were written by Roger Nichols and Paul Williams. Williams told me he's not familiar with Skin's version and it's likely not earlier than the hit. (Nichols and Williams' 1970 demo was issued on a Japanese CD titled We've Only Just Begun.)
Out Of Time - This Jagger/Richards song first appeared in the US on the Rolling Stones' 1967 album Flowers. Chris Farlowe had a Jagger-produced UK hit with it the year before, recorded May 6, 1966. The Stones' recording though was done in March of '66 and showed up that year on the British issue of their Aftermath LP. The Stones then had a 1975 US hit with a rerecorded version that used Farlowe's backing track.
Peaceful Easy Feeling - Even though he was a working musician (with the Funky Kings and solo), songwriter Jack Tempchin did not record this prior to the Eagles' hit.
People - Barbra Streisand's hit was cut 12-20-63 while the cast recording of the song (from Funny Girl) was done 4-5-64.
Playboy - A take done by the Marvelettes earlier than their hit, has been issued by UK Ace on the 2018 CD Baby I've Got It! More Motown Girls (CDTOP 1524).
Please Help Me I'm Falling - Rose Maddox cut hers 1-25-60 (Capitol 4347) but Hank Locklin's hit was recorded 1-5-60.
Promises Promises - Dionne Warwick's hit began charting November 2, 1968. Jerry Orbach did a cast recording of "Promises, Promises" but the play, of the same title, opened in December, 1968.
Puff The Magic Dragon - Vinny Catalano claimed this Peter, Paul & Mary hit copied his song "Pretty Little Joanie" (recorded by Marty Filler, 1960, Taurus 360), but a judge in the suit ruled the melody to be "traditional." The "Puff" tune is also similar to the Dream Weavers' "It's Almost Tomorrow" (1955, Decca 29683).
The Pusher - Recorded by Steppenwolf in late 1967, it appeared on their first (self-titled) album and received a lot of FM radio play. Theirs then got a big boost being part of the Easy Rider soundtrack. Hoyt Axton wrote and copyrighted "The Pusher" in 1964. Although he performed it live throughout the '60s, Axton didn't record it until (probably) 1969. His version first appeared on the Do It Now Foundation's anti-drug (speed), various-artists album First Vibration (Do It Now 5000). Steppenwolf singer John Kay has said he heard and learned the song from Hoyt while working as a dishwasher at the Troubadour club in Hollywood.
A live version, done May 14, 1967 by Steppenwolf when they were still billed as the Sparrow, was issued on the 1969 albbum Early Steppenworlf (Dunhill CS 50060). It's likely this recording was not originally intended for release, and even possibly made without the group's knowledge at the time.
The Race Is On - Jimmie Gray's recording (which could have been a demo) done before George Jones', has never been issued.
Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head - B.J. Thomas first recorded the song for use in the movie Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, and his popular version was cut a couple of weeks later. The one included on the soundtrack album though is his hit recording, not the earlier, film version.
Ramrod - Prior to Duane Eddy's 1958 hit, the song had been released twice; first by Duane Eddy & His Rock-A-Billies (Ford 500) then by "Frantic" Johnny Rogers (Cindy 3010). Even though these three had variations in mixes, editing and overdubs, they all used the same basic September, 1957 recording. There's a lot of conflicting information as to whether Eddy or Al Casey played lead guitar on it. Producer Lee Hazlewood claimed it was Al while Eddy's wife Deed inssits it was Duane.
Rhythm Of The Rain - This Cascades hit was supposedly first recorded by the Coastliners, but that was just an earlier name of the group that became the Cascades.
Right Back Where We Started From - Writer J. Vincent Edwards did record this but it was done after Maxine Nightingale's hit.
Rock 'N' Roll (I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life) - According to the song's writer, Aussie Kevin Johnson, a couple of US artists recorded it right after he sent it to the publisher. Upon learning of this, Johnson quickly cut & issued his own version. Sonny Curtis's (Mercury 73438) was a contender as the original, but further research shows that most likely none of the prior recordings has been issued.
Secret Agent Man - Writer P.F. Sloan recorded an instrumental demo and wrote a few lyric lines. Johnny Rivers then cut a 15-second version to replace the UK theme for the Dangerman TV show being imported to the States. The Ventures laid down their instrumental version prior to Rivers doing his full-length recording, but theirs did chart for seven weeks.
She - Del Shannon cut it 11-2-66 but the Monkees' version had been recorded August 18th of that year.
Sleep Walk - Before they had a huge hit with this instrumental, Santo & Johnny had recorded it under the title "Deep Sleep" as members of their uncle's band, Mike Dee & The Mello Tones. It's unclear if they just changed the title or whether "Sleep Walk" was a new recording (which I suspect). If "Deep Sleep" is a distinct, earlier version, it's never been issued.
Snowbird - Writer Gene MacLellan cut and released this (Capitol 2959), but it was recorded after Anne Murray's hit.
Soul Deep - Writer Wayne Carson had this out as a single (Monument 1152) but it was issued a few months after the Box Tops' hit version. Since Carson had also written their hit "The Letter," it's unlikely his was recorded first .
Society's Child - Before Janis Ian had her hit, she'd recorded the song as "Baby, I've Been Thinking," under the name Blind Girl Grunt (Bob Dylan had occasionally been Blind Boy Grunt). This recording, issued on the 2000 Best Of Broadside 1962-1988 box set, had to have been a demo.
Spinning Wheel - David Clayton-Thomas had written this before joining Blood, Sweat & Tears and having a huge 1969 hit with it. He had recorded "Spinnig Wheel" a year or two earlier with his Canadian group, the David Clayton Thomas Combine, but their label rejected it. Despite online rumours of its release on Yorkville Records, it was never issued. According to Clayton-Thomas, that first version was thrown into the trash by the record company and probably no longer exists!
Standing On The Corner - Contrary to intuition, the Four Lads' hit was cut (3-1-56) prior to the Most Happy Fella cast recording, done 5-15-56.
Steamroller (aka Steamroller Blues) - This James Taylor song was a hit for Elvis Presley in 1973. Numerous online references and discographies list the Masqueraders' version (Bell 932) as being from 1968 but it was issued in 1970, after Taylor's original.
Sunday Morning - Writer Margo Guryan had this Spanky And Our Gang hit out (Mala 12002) but it was recorded after theirs. Spanky & company had gotten the song from Guryan's earlier demo, which has since been issued on CD.
Sunday Will Never Be The Same - Spanky And Our Gang's hit was recorded April 13, 1967. The song's writers, Terry Cashman and Gene Pistilli, recorded it along with Tommy West (as Cashman, Pistilli & West) for their Bound To Happen album, ABC 629. Despite references to the album being from 1967, it wasn't released until 1968, making it unlikely their version of the song preceded the hit.
Superstition - Writer Stevie Wonder had promised the song to Jeff Beck, but there were delays in Beck's sessions (with Tim Bogart and Camine Appice). Suspecting Wonder's would be a hit, Motown issued his in October, 1972 and the Beck, Bogart & Appice version wasn't cut until December.
Tragedy - Co-writer Gerald Nelson and his group the Escorts were rumored to have cut it first, but they never even recorded it, leaving Thomas Wayne's hit as the earliest. Nelson told me Wayne's session was done the same day the song was composed.
Transfusion - Despite rumors that the Four Jokers' recording (Diamond 3004) included Nervous Norvus and preceded Norvus's hit, neither is true.
True Love Never Runs Smooth - Don & Juan may have released their single first (May 1963, Big Top 3145), but Gene Pitney's hit later that year was a track from his early 1962 album Only Love Can Break A Heart.
Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon) - Scott McKenzie laid down the background tracks, then the Mamas & Papas added vocals for their hit before he finished his.
Up On The Roof - It's been suggested, and written, that this was originally recorded by Little Eva (for her Llllloco-Motion album, Dimension 6000). The Drifters' hit was cut June 28, 1962 and Little Eva's first record, "The Loco-Motion," began charting in Billboard on June 30 of that year. Given the fact that "The Loco-Motion" was her demo that got released, and Little Eva wasn't even a recording artist per se until it hit, it's unlikely she would've gotten "Roof" before the Drifters.
Up-Up And Away - It seemed possible the Sunshine Company cut this first (Imperial 66241) but according to writer Jimmy Webb, he played the song for the 5th Dimension and their hit was the earliest recording.
Valerie - Yes, the Pineapple Heard's (Diamond 231) was done prior to the Monkees' hit. But the Monkees themselves had an earlier version from their More Of The Monkees sessions. This recording aired in a TV episode and, as the story goes, was taped by some radio stations and played before there was ever a commercial release of the song. This Monkees' pre-hit version has since been issued on CD.
Walk Like An Egyptian - The Bangles' hit was first recorded by Lene Lovich but it was not released.
We Gotta Get Outta This Place - Barry Mann, co-writer of this Animals' hit, recorded a version that's since been issued on a Japanese CD (Barry Mann Songbook). Most likely it was his demo, done in the style of the Righteous Brothers in hope they would cut it.
Werewolves Of London - Warren Zevon wrote this for Phil Everly but, if Phil ever cut it, it's never been released.
What Are You Doing Sunday - Mary McCaffrey had this out in early 1971 (Metromedia 208), prior to the hit single by Dawn Featuring Tony Orlando, but Dawn's had been a 1970 album cut from Candida. Following their hit, Dawn's next LP was named after the song and also included it.
What's It Gonna Be - Dusty Springfield's hit was done July 29, 1967 while another version by Susan Barrett (RCA Victor 9296) was out around the same time. Since co-writer Jerry Ragovoy produced Dusty's, hers was likely the first.
Where Were You When I Needed You - The Grass Roots' hit began charting in Billboard in mid June, 1966. Herman's Hermits' Hold On! soundtrack, which included their version, was released in March of that year so it would be easy to assume theirs was first. However according to P.F. Sloan, who along with Steve Barri, wrote and recorded the song (as the Grass Roots before there was an actual band), Herman's was cut after theirs.
Whiter Shade Of Pale, A - Much has been written about classical influences for Procol Harum's enduring hit, with the most commonly sited melody source being J.S. Bach's "Sleepers Awake" from Suite No. 3 in D major (aka Cantata 140). Another Bach composition, "Air For The G String," is also mentioned regularly. Procol Harum organist Matthew Fisher says his part was based on many things, including a couple of Bach pieces. After reviewing various online treatises and discussion groups, I've concluded Fisher pretty much wrote it but incorporated small bits from Bach's works.
Wildfire Michael Murphey recorded a live version on New Year's Eve, 1970, included as a bonus cut on the Australian issue of his album Cosmic Cowboy (Raven 192). This was some five years before his hit recording but I doubt the live one was made with the intent of being released.
Wipeout - A 1963 album by the Impacts (Wipe Out, Del-Fi 1234) contained an instrumental titled "Wipeout." Later pressings had liner notes claiming this to be "The original version of the song" andsure enoughlistening to this reissue, it does contain the melody of the Surfaris' 1963 hit of the same title. But hold onoriginal 1963 pressings of the Impacts' lp do not have this same guitar line!
Woman Woman - Contrary to some CD liner notes, co-writer Jim Glaser never cut an early version of this as "Girl Girl." (The Glasers did, however, record it as "Woman, Woman" for the 1970 film Tick...Tick...Tick.) Jimmy Payne's was the first.
Wonder Of You, The - This Elvis Presley hit was first recorded by actor Vince Edwards, but his remains unissued.
Words Of Love - To Buddy Holly's dismay, the Diamonds issued it (Mercury 71128) before his. But, as the (possible) original, theirs charted to #13 Pop in Billboard.
World Without Love - Bobby Rydell cut this in April of 1964 but Peter & Gordon recorded their hit on January 21 of that year.
You Can't Hurry Love - To my ears, Dorothy Love Coates' "He's Right On Time, (You Can't Hurry God)" is not related to the Supremes' hit.
You Talk Too Much - Prior to his 1960 hit, Joe Jones had recorded this for Roulette Records, but they didn't issue it. Two years later Jones cut it for Ric Records and that's when it started to get attention. Roulette claimed the song, took legal action and reissued Ric's recording. The only version released on Roulette was the hit.
Same Title-Different Song (further demonstrating you can't copyright a title)
After Midnight by the Shirelles (Scepter 12162) is not the J.J. Cale song/Eric Clapton hit.
All Shook Up, (I'm) by Vicki Young (Capitol 3425) is not the Elvis Presley hit.
Alley Oop by Margie Rayburn (Capitol 3180) is not the Hollywood Argyles hit.
Baby Come Back by the Equals (RCA Victor 9583) is not the Player hit.
Baby It's You by the Spaniels (Vee Jay 101) is not the Shirelles hit.
Backfield In Motion by the Poindexter Bros. (Verve 10447) is not the Mel & Tim hit.
Barbara Ann by the Earth Boys (Capitol 4067) is not the Regents/Beach Boys hit.
Be Bop Baby by Autry Inman (Decca 29936) is not the the Ricky Nelson hit.
Blue On Blue by Dick Neelee (RCA Victor 7765) is not the Bobby Vinton hit.
Brown Eyed Girl by Hal Andrews (Choctaw 8004) is not the Van Morrison hit.
Chain Gang by Bobby Scott (ABC Paramount 9658) is not the Sam Cooke hit.
Charlie Brown by the Cues (Capitol 3310) is not the Coasters hit.
Come A Little Bit Closer by Willy And Ruth (Spark 101) is not the Jay & The Americans hit.
Come What May by the Four Tunes (RCA Victor 4489) is not the Clyde McPhatter hit.
Dancing In The Dark by the MGM Studio Orchestra (The Band Wagon soundtrack) is not the Bruce Springsteen hit.
Dear Heart by Teddy Randazzo (Colpix 684) is not the Jack Jones/Andy Williams hit.
Dear One by Jimmy Jones (Cub 9093) is not the Larry Finnegan hit.
Devil In Disguise by Stan Mitchell (Gone 5106) is not the Elvis Presley hit.
Do The Freddie (aka Let's Do The Freddie) by Chubby Checker (Parkway 949) is not the Freddie & the Dreamers hit.
Don't Stop Believin' by Olivia Newton-John (MCA 40600) is not the Journey hit.
Easier Said Than Done by Betty Foster (Crest 1092) is not the Essex hit.
The Eighty-One by Allen Cromer (Edge 504) is not the Candy & The Kisses hit.
Fame And Fortune by Allan Chase (Columbia 41538) is not the Elvis Presley hit.
Fox On The Run by Manfred Mann (Mercury 72879) is not the Sweet hit.
Good Lovin' by the Clovers (Atlantic 1000) is not the Olypmics/(Young) Rascals hit.
Goodnight Sweetheart by the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra (UK His Master's Voice B 5984) is not the Spaniels hit (as "Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite").
Hanky Panky by the Riptides (Challenge 59062) is not the Tommy James & Shondells hit.
Heart To Heart by Aldo Nova (on self-titled LP Portrait ARR 37498) is not the Kenny Loggins hit.
Heat Wave, the 1933 Irving Berlin composition is not the Martha & Vandellas hit.
Here Comes The Night by Ben E. King (Atco 6207) is not the hit by Them.
Hey Joe by Carl Smith (Columbia 21129) is not the Leaves hit.
I'm Sorry by Lily Ann Carol (RCA Victor 4736) is not the Brenda Lee hit.
Java by Mitch Miller (Columbia 40947) is not the Allen Toussaint song/Al Hirt hit.
Keep On Dancing by Hank Ballard & Midnighters (King 5535) is not the Avantis song/Gentrys hit.
Lay A Little Lovin' On Me by Jimmy Radcliffe (RCA 0138) is not the Robin McNamara hit.
Little Red Riding Hood by Sheila Ferguson (Landa 706) is not the Sam The Sham & Pharaohs hit.
Little Red Rooster by Margie Day & Griffin Bros. (Dot 1019 ) is not related to the Willie Dixon song made famous by Howlin' Wolf and the Rolling Stones.
Look Of Love, The by Frank Sinatra (lp Reprise 1013 Softly, As I Leave You) is not the Dusty Springfield/Sergio Mendes hit.
Love Me Do by Matt Monroe (UK Decca F10845) is not the Beatles hit.
Lucille by Jimmy Witherspoon (Federal 265) is not the Little Richard/Everly Bros. hit.
Montego Bay by Burl Ives (Columbia 44974) is not the Bobby Bloom hit.
Mr. Lonely by the Videls (JDS 5004) is not the Bobby Vinton hit.
Neki-Hokey - This Cleftones recording, often misspelled as Niki Hoeky, (Gee 1016) is not the P.J. Proby hit.
The Night Has A Thousand Eyes by Buddy Clark (Columbia 38263) is not the Bobby Vee hit.
Oh Happy Day by Dick Dodd (Decca 28506) is not the Edwin Hawkins Singers hit.
Only The Lonely by Johnny Western (Columbia 41500) is not the Roy Orbison hit.
Patty Baby by Terry Noland (Brunswick 55036) is not the Freddy Cannon hit.
Personality by Johnny Mercer & Pied Pipers (Capitol 230) is not the Lloyd Price hit.
Poor Little Puppet by the Senators (Golden Crest) is not the Jan & Dean song/Cathy Caroll hit.
Pretty Blue Eyes by Ray Vernon (Liberty 55201) is not the Steve Lawrence hit.
Red Hot by the Five Scamps (Okeh 7049/Columbia 30158) is not the Billy "The Kid" Emerson/Billy Lee Riley/Robert Gordon song.
Red Red Wine by Beale Street Gang with Milt Buckner (Savoy 785) is not the Neil Diamond/UB40 song.
Rock Around The Clock - Neither Hal Singer's (Mercury 8196) nor a different song with the same title by Wally Mercer (Dot 1099) is the Bill Haley hit.
Roses Are Red by Darrel & The Oxfords (Roulette 4174) is not the Bobby Vinton hit.
Send For Me by Big Maybelle (Okeh 6998) is not the Nat "King" Cole hit.
Sentimental Lady by Classics IV (Imperial 66378) is not the Fleetwood Mac song/Bob Welch hit.
Smokin' In The Boys' Room by the Minitmen (Rust 5103) is not the Brownsville Station hit. Interestingly, the Minitmen song was written and produced by Doug Morris, who produced Brownsville Station's record.
Soldier Boy by the Four Fellows (Glory 234) is not the Shirelles hit.
Some Kind Of Wonderful by the Drifters (Atlantic 2096) is not the Soul Brothers 6/Grand Funk hit.
Stairway To Heaven Neither Slim Whitman's (Imperial 8220) nor a different song with the same title by Neil Sedaka (RCA Victor 7709) is the Led Zeppelin hit.
Stewball by the Coasters (Atco 6168) is not the Peter, Paul & Mary hit.
The Stroke by Andre Williams (Checker 1187) is not the Billy Squire hit.
Supercalafajalistickeseealadojus by Alan Holmes & His New Tones (Columbia 38797) is not the similarly-titled ("Super-cali-fragil-istic-expi-ali-docious") Julie Andrews/Dick Van Dyke hit. Even though these two songsdone 15 years apartare not musically related, their titles had to be more than a coincidence!
Suspicion by Jennie Smith (Top Rank 2077) is not the Terry Stafford hit.
Sweet Pea by the Gee-Tones/Gregory Howard (Gee 1013) is not the Tommy Roe hit.
Teenage Idol by the Ravons (Davis 464) is not the Ricky Nelson hit.
Tell It Like It Is - Neither Little Willie John's (King 5147) nor a different song with the same title by the Nomads (Josie 905) is the Aaron Neville hit.
That's Life by John Gary (RCA 8292) is not the Frank Sinatra hit.
Two Tickets To Paradise by Brook Benton (Mercury 72177) is the not the Eddie Money hit.
Unchain My Heart by Slim Whitman (Imperial 8312) is not the Ray Charles hit.
What Kind Of Fool Am I by Sammy Davis Jr. (Reprise 20,048) is not the Rick Springfield hit.
With Every Beat Of My Heart by Leata Holloway (Columbia 07786) is not the Taylor Dane hit.
Yo-Yo by John D. Loudermilk (Columbia 41209) is not the Osmonds hit.
You Hurt So Good by Susie Rainey (Peachtree 106) is not related to the Millie Jackson hit "Hurt So Good."
You Light Up My Life by Carole King (Ode 66035) is not the Debbie Boone hit.
You're Gonna Miss Me by Connie Francis (MGM 12824) is not the 13th Floor Elevators hit.