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  • Writer's pictureJumpin' Joe

The Rarely Heard Debut Singles

The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa, and Otis Redding are legends. You know most (if not all) of their hits, but do you know their debut singles? Not every group was like the Monkees and debuted at #1 on the charts. Let's take a look at some of the forgotten and rarely heard debut singles.

Rolling Stones: Come On

Released June 07, 1963, Decca released "Come On," as the debut single for the Rolling Stones. Only released in the United Kingdom, the Chuck Berry cover reached #21 on the British charts. Most Americans wouldn't hear the single until it appeared on the 1972 compilation More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies).

For the 50th anniversary of the release of their debut single on June 06, 2013, The Rolling Stones performed a portion of the song during a concert in Toronto, Ontario.

It is interesting to note that while this is the Rolling Stones very first single, "Come On" was Chuck Berry's final single before spending 3 years in prison in 1961. His next single ("Nadine") would come in 1964.

The first U.S. single for the Stones was a cover of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" featuring appearances by Phil Spector and Gene Pitney. The song was a huge hit in the U.K. reaching #3 in 1964, but only hitting #48 on the American Billboard Hot 100 (#44 on Cashbox).

Stevie Wonder: (I Call It Pretty Music But) The Old People Call It The Blues

Little Stevie Wonder's first big hit reached #1 in 1963 with the release of "Finger Tips - Parts 1 and 2." However, that was not his debut single, it was actually his fourth. At 12 years of age, Wonder's first single came a year earlier when Tamla released "(I Call It Pretty Music But) The Old People Call It The Blues." The song failed to appear on the R&B charts, but did bubble under the Billboard Hot 100 at #101.

Wonder later played harmonica on a song with a similar title: Elton John's "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues."

Young Rascals: I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore

The Young Rascals topped the charts in 1966 with their version of "Good Lovin," a song recorded a year earlier by The Olympics, which they adapted from the original version recorded by Canton, Ohio native Lemme B. Good.

While it was most likely the first time you ever heard The Young Rascals, "Good Lovin" was not their debut single but rather their debut follow up. "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" was released in November of 1965 and only reached #52 on Billboard. The song did better in Canada as it hit #23.

The B-side is an absolute barn burning rendition of Larry Williams' "Slow Down." That's one B-side you gotta dig!

Frank Zappa (The Mothers of Invention): How Could I Be Such A Fool

Frank Zappa's debut single dates back to his days with The Mothers Of Invention with the 1966 release of "How Could I Be Such A Fool."

Released on Verve Records, the song is a bit reminiscent of a doo wop ballad. It did not chart nationally, but did receive some airplay on WLOF, Orlando and on WOLF in Syracuse, New York where it reached #14.

"How Could I Be Such A Fool" appears on The Mothers of Invention's debut album, Freak Out.

Frank Zappa wouldn't have a national charting single until 1974 with "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow Suite." Zappa would have a #1 hit with "Bobby Brown," as it topped the charts in Sweden and Norway in 1979. It failed to chart in America.

Zappa's only top 40 hit in America was "Valley Girl," reaching #32 on the pop charts in 1982. It also hit #12 on the American Rock chart, and #18 in Canada.

Otis Redding (and the Shooters): She's Alright

Two years before the release of his first Stax single "These Arms of Mine," Otis Redding released his debut single called "She's Alright" under the title Otis Redding & The Shooters. The song failed to chart.

During this time, Redding toured with The Pinetoppers and also doubled as the band's driver. It was during an unscheduled Stax recording session that he landed a record deal.

Redding would go on to have 31 singles (including posthumous releases) reach the top 40 on the R&B charts. Redding reached #2 twice with "I've Been Loving You Too Long," and "Tramp" (with Carla Thomas). His only #1 (both Pop and R&B charts) came in 1968 with "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay," released after his tragic death in December of 1967. While with Stax, Redding re-record "She's Alright," which appears on the Remember Me compilation.

Moby Grape

What is perhaps known as the most unusual debut single (or singles) of all-time, Columbia Records chose to introduce the world to Moby Grape by releasing their first 5 singles on the same day, June 6, 1967.

The singles, both the A-sides and B-sides, appear on their self-titled debut album, which reached #24 on the album charts. The singles released were "Fall On You," "Sitting By The Window," "8:05," "Omaha," and "Hey Grandma."

The promotional stunt backfired as the group was criticized by many as being "over hyped." Furthermore, the simultaneous release of 5 debut singles caused confusion among music directors at radio stations across the country. Of the 5 singles, "Omaha" was the only single to hit the Billboard Hot 100 at #88. The song did hit #10 in San Francisco on KFRC. "Hey Grandma" bubbled under at #127.

While the stunt failed nationally, it greatly succeeded in Reno, Nevada as all 5 singles simultaneously hit #1 on KCBN on July 21, 1967.

Each single was released with a pic sleeve that was carefully cropped to remove the infamous "one finger salute." The uncropped photo was used as the album cover and originally released undoctored, but the middle finger was later airbrushed or covered up on later releases.

Rolling Stone Magazine ranks "Omaha" at #95 on the "100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All-Time." It is an excellent artifact from the San Francisco pyschedelic scene, but be sure you hear the MONO POWER mix...not the watered down super-separated stereo mix. The same goes with "Hey Grandma" as the scorching guitar is buried in the stereo mix. Listen to the singles (heck, listen to the whole album) in glorious MONO!

Jumpin' Joe's Basement Show presents two hours of debut singles:

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