10 songs you probably did not know were covers

Great songs you may not know by the original artists.
Bowling For Soup Performs At Ace Of Spades
Bowling For Soup Performs At Ace Of Spades / Tim Mosenfelder/GettyImages
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TIME IS ON MY SIDE/IT’S ALL OVER NOW – The Rolling Stones, 1964

Right off the bat, you get a twofer. Before Mick and Keith developed into one of the greatest songwriting teams in rock & roll, they launched their band by covering mostly black, mostly American artists. Their first three albums are chockful of these songs. These are the two big ones. They had their first major hit with a different cover – Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.” But Buddy Holly was white and well-known to the general public, so most people knew “Not Fade Away” was a cover.

Most people did not know that “It’s All Over Now,” the Stones first number 1 hit in the UK, had originally been recorded by American R&B singer Bobby Womack, who wrote the song with his sister-in-law Shirley. Bobby and his brother Cecil’s band The Valentinos scored a minor hit with the song a few months before Mick and Keith heard it and decided to do their own version. The Valentinos version is a sprightly little tune on which Bobby offers a surprisingly understated vocal. It has a great vibe, but it lacks the raw power of the Stones take.

That same year, Mick and Keith heard Irma Thomas’ gospel-fueled “Time is on My Side,” which was just beginning to gain some traction on the charts. Thomas has expressed disappointment that the Stones' cover, which was their first top-ten hit in the US, put a lid on her own version. But Thomas’ version wasn’t the original either.

American jazz trombonist Kai Winding put out the first recording a year earlier. Winding had a backing trio – the Gospelaires – singing the chorus, and then his horn took on what we all know as the verse. It’s a pretty cool version, and it gets an extra special place in music history due to the identity of that background trio.

I should admit that I’ve never been able to ascertain whether Cissy Houston and her nieces Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick sang on the Winding recording, but they were all members of the group. I could go on to talk about how Dee Dee did the original recording of the Linda Ronstadt hit “You’re No Good,” but I won’t get bogged down. I could also talk about Cissy’s daughter, but she’s coming toward the end of this piece.

Instead, I’ll just move along …