A-Z Extra: The Five Best “You Didn’t Know They Were Cover Versions, Did Ya?” Songs…
...because we've spent years (and years!) assuming Joan Jett must have written "I Love Rock 'N' Roll". Not the case, as we are about to learn.
(5.) George Harrison, "Got My Mind Set On You" - It was 1987 and George was having quite an artistic return-to-form with the "Cloud Nine" album. This track went on to become his third U.S. Number One single, the only one to not have religious overtones. It was also the only one of the three that he didn't write! R&B-Soul man James Ray first recorded it back in 1962...
(4.) Tesla, "Little Suzi" - A great example of a band that's got their sound so focused, so refined, it never occurred to anyone that the song could possibly be a cover version. In 1981, British "new wavers" Ph.D. recorded and released this one for their debut album five years before Tesla made us take note (in '86). The Ph.D. version turned out to be the fifth music video shown when MTV launched in August of that year!
(3.) Rod Stewart, "The First Cut Is The Deepest" - One of Rod's best vocal performances made this a No. 1 hit single for four weeks in a row in England; here in the U.S. it only charted as high as 21 (felt a whole lot bigger though). Sheryl Crow's version would score even higher in 2003, but it was originally written and recorded by Cat Stevens (yup!) for his album "New Masters" (1967).
(2.) Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" - Essentially the standard-bearer for making someone else's song your own. For Joan, it was seven weeks in a row at Number One in 1982. Original credit, though, goes to U.K. pop-rockers The Arrows who introduced this song to the world back in 1975 (produced by Mickie Most, who had incredible singles success with Donovan and Herman's Hermits).
(1.) Led Zeppelin, "Dazed And Confused" - Long before the controversy surrounding the origins of "Stairway To Heaven" (did they steal licks from Spirit?), singer/songwriter Jake Holmes recorded and released "D & C" in 1967, two years before Zep's debut came out. In the 1980s, Mr. Holmes tried unsuccessfully to contact Jimmy Page regarding the songwriting credit. The case was settled out of court in 2010; subsequent Zep re-issues gave Jake an "Inspiration by..." credit.
Got any you've been surprised by?