“Everybody has to start somewhere. Businessmen start on the ground floor and try to work their way up the corporate ladder. Baseball players bide their time in the minor leagues wishing for an opportunity to move up and play in the majors. Musical compositions aren’t very different—some songs just don’t climb the charts the first time they’re recorded. However, with perseverance, the ideal singer, the right chemistry, impeccable timing, vigorous promotion, and a little luck, these songs can become very famous.” So writes Bob Leszczak in the
“Everybody has to start somewhere. Businessmen start on the ground floor and try to work their way up the corporate ladder. Baseball players bide their time in the minor leagues wishing for an opportunity to move up and play in the majors. Musical compositions aren’t very different—some songs just don’t climb the charts the first time they’re recorded. However, with perseverance, the ideal singer, the right chemistry, impeccable timing, vigorous promotion, and a little luck, these songs can become very famous.” So writes Bob Leszczak in the opening pages of Who Did It First? Great Rhythm and Blues Cover Songs and Their Original Artists
Here readers will discover the little-known history behind legendary rhythm and blues numbers on their way to the majors. As Leszczak points out, the version you purchased, danced to, romanced to, and grew up with is often not the first version recorded. Like wine and cheese, some tunes just get better with age, and behind each there is a story. Who Did It First? contains interesting facts and amusing anecdotes, often gathered through Leszczak’s vast archive of personal interviews with the singers, songwriters, record producers, and label owners who wrote, sang, recorded, and distributed either the original cut or one of its classic covers.
The first in a series devoted to the story of great songs and their revivals, Who Did It First? is the perfect playlist builder. Whether quizzing friends at a party, answering a radio station contest, or simply satisfying an insatiable curiosity to know who really did do it first, this book is a must-have.
As much as I enjoy biographies and critical pieces on music, I really enjoy a good book full of trivia and history. Who Did It First?: Great Rhythm and Blues Cover Songs and Their Original Artists by Bob Leszczak is such a book. Leszczak produces a five-hour music trivia radio program,Solid Gold Scrapbook, and he brings his expertise and research to the project.
Who Did It First? is fascinating. It teaches so much that even music fiends don't know and does it in an entertaining manner.
Rock Music Studies
Who Did It First? Great Rhythm and Blues Cover Songs and Their Original Artists displays significant incidents of the mid-century commercial phenomenon that integrated American popular music and forever increased the diversity in US vocal styling, lyrical flexibility, and rhythmic patterns. ... Bob Leszczak has assembled a clearly organized, briefly annotated discography of 380 relatively well-known R&B songs, both original releases and cover versions. This work constitutes a valuable introduction to and overview of cover recording practices in the realm of black music over the second half of the 20th century.
Record Collector News
By combining his knowledge based on years of jockeying and collecting and with a passion for original sounds, Leszczak is a natural to write a tome like Who Did It First?
Scholars and trivia fans of rhythm and blues recordings produced in the US in the 1950s-60s will welcome this unique reference book by singer and music producer Leszczak. Over 475 entries describe popular R and B hits and the remakes that often made them staples on the radio and music charts. Arranged alphabetically, entries list composers, performers, labels, and chart positions of both originals and covers of the songs discussed, followed by brief, informative accounts of each tune's history. Leszczak also provides firsthand information from interviews with composers and performers when available. Included are an appendix listing the artists who covered the greatest number of songs (the Beatles and Elvis Presley stand out) and suggestions for further reading. Though clearly intended to be a fan's resource, Who Did It First? is also a great history of early R and B, American radio, and studio recording. Students of early American rock 'n' roll, soul, funk, and the British invasion will also discover compelling facts and connections. This book is the first volume in a projected set of three; the next two installments will cover pop and rock songs, respectively. A useful book . . . Summing Up: Recommended. General readers.
- W. Royal Stokes
Ever wonder why a tune sounds familiar but you can’t identify the earlier version? Well, Bob Leszczak might solve the riddle for you in Who Did It First? Great Rhythm and Blues Cover Songs and Their Original Artists. Tracing the origins of more than 400 songs, Leszczak provides, in half a page, the basic data of both recordings and a several-sentence career history of the original artist. . . .Who Did It First? is a solid reference tool as well as a strong candidate for Best Browsing Book of the Year, were there such a competition.
American Reference Books Annual
This book provides information on 380 R&B songs that where made famous by someone other than, or in addition to, the original artists. The majority of songs were first recorded in the 1950s and 1960s with a few songs from the 1970s and a couple of songs from the 1940s and the 1980s. Songs are arranged alphabetically by title and each entry provides the composer of the song, the original artists, year of release, the record label and number, and how it ranked on the charts. This is followed by the cover artist, year of release, record label and number, and how it ranked on the charts. Following each entry is a brief history of both the original release and the release that made the song famous. References to other 'honorable mention' versions are included (with appropriate record label and number). Historical descriptions are usually 2-3 brief paragraphs of 200 words on average. Over 40 pictures of original 45 rpm records with half a dozen photos of artists are included. The 32-page index proves quite valuable for identify the various people and artists mentioned in the historical narratives. Depending on the age of the reader, one may believe the original recording of a song was the more popular version. 'Ain’t That a Shame' by Fats Domino is still being played on the radio today even though the Pat Boone version charted #1. All in all, music fans of the popular R&B genre of this time period will enjoy this work. The book will also be sought out by fans of popular culture trivia.
Bob Leszczak has spent the last three decades as an on-air personality all over the United States. He sang and toured in the 1980s with the Duprees of “You Belong to Me” fame, and he is the former writer and producer of a weekly syndicated five-hour music trivia program called Solid Gold Scrapbook. His passions are record collecting, music trivia, classic TV sitcoms and game shows, and baseball.