BILLY THORPE & THE AZTECS
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
Australia 1964
#1 Sydney #6 Melbourne #1 Brisbane #1 Adelaide

Released late in 1964, Over The Rainbow was on Australian charts from the end of December 1964 until June 1965. Oz Net Music Charts shows it peaking at #1 nationally for two weeks in January 1965. See below for 1974 single.

Billy Thorpe (1946-2007): British-born singer, guitarist and songwriter whose family emigrated to Brisbane in the 1950s. Based in Sydney from 1963, 'Thorpy', with The Aztecs, had numerous pop hits in a variety of styles, but at the end of the 60s, then in Melbourne, he fronted a loud, rocky, blues-based formation of the Aztecs that contrasted with his earlier pop idol image. Later, his solo and business career took him to Los Angeles, and he wrote two popular autobiographical books, Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy) and Sex And Thugs And Rock'n'Roll [AbeBooks link].

Further reading: Paul Culnane's account of Billy Thorpe's career at Milesago.

Buy At Sanity.com.au

Thank you to Joop Jansen and honeydhont for their informed discussion of the 1939 versions through The Originals Problemsolving Forum and email.

DIGGER REVELL & THE DENVERMEN
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
Australia 1963
#33 Sydney #47 Melbourne

Single on RCA label.

Digger Revell (born Gary Hildred) had a number of hits in 1963-64 as lead singer of Digger Revell and the Denvermen, including My Little Rocker's Turned Surfie (1964). The Denvermen charted in their own right with a series of surf instrumentals in 1963, including Avalon Stomp and Surfside (#1 Sydney, #6 Melbourne). Digger Revell went on to a successful solo career, moving eventually into the country music scene. 

There's a fine Teenagers Weekly cover shot of The Denverman at Instromania, along with a band history and discography.
See also the article at TE Online about a 2003 appearance by Digger Revell in the Hunter Valley, NSW.

Thanks to Tony Watson for label details.

THE DEMENSIONS
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
USA 1960
#16 USA #30 Adelaide

Single on Mohawk label.

Doo-wop style vocal harmony group from Brooklyn who appeared on American Bandstand and had this record, their big hit, promoted by New York disc jockey Cousin Brucie. (AMG)

See also the website of a more recent line-up line-up.

GLENN MILLER & HIS ORCHESTRA
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
USA 1939
#1 USA

Vocals by Ray Eberle.

78 rpm record on Victor's Bluebird label, recorded 12 July 1939.

This was the biggest seller of the versions of Over The Rainbow that became popular after the August 1939 release of The Wizard Of Oz.

BOB CROSBY & HIS ORCHESTRA
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
USA 1939
#2 USA

78 rpm record on Decca label, recorded 24 July 1939. Another popular version at the time of the success of The Wizard of Oz.

LARRY CLINTON & HIS ORCHESTRA
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
USA 1939
#10 USA

Original released version?

78 rpm record on Victor label, vocal by Bea Wain.

Of the recordings of Over The Rainbow that became hits in the wake of the August 1939 release of The Wizard Of Oz, this was recorded the earliest, on 8 December 1938. Only Judy Garland's October 1938 recording session for The Wizard Of Oz soundtrack predates it.

Sadly, I don't have a release date for Larry Clinton's record.

A tantalising question: was it released before Judy Garland's June 1939 radio performance of Over The Rainbow (see below)? If so, that would make it the original version. Arnold Rypens at The Originals now calls it that way, but until I establish a release date (rather than a recording date) I'll keep the question mark.

JUDY GARLAND WITH THE VICTOR YOUNG ORCHESTRA
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
USA 1939
#5 USA

78 rpm record on Decca label, recorded 28 July 1939. See the Decca discography at Online Discography Project.

JUDY GARLAND ['WIZARD OF OZ' SOUNDTRACK]
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
USA 1939
Influential version

The Wizard of Oz was released in August 1939. The recording session that included Over The Rainbow took place in October 1938 (see, for example, the time line at The Judy Room).

Regardless of the chronology, this remains the version of Over The Rainbow associated with Judy Garland, the star of The Wizard of Oz who made the song her own.

Over The Rainbow won the Oscar for Best Song and has been recorded by numerous artists: EMI Music Publishing lists about 300. See SongFacts for discussion of some notable versions.

JUDY GARLAND
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
USA 1939
Original version: live performance

29 June 1939: the first public performance by Judy Garland of Over The Rainbow, with composer Harold Arlen on piano, on Behind the Scenes at the Making of The Wizard of Oz, a radio preview broadcast on Maxwell House Coffee Time. See, for example, the time line at The Judy Room.


Did Larry Clinton have the original release of Over The Rainbow? See discussion above.

Later versions:

BILLY THORPE
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
Australia 1974
Later version
#4 Melbourne

Single on Atlantic label.

Aussie rock legend reprises his 60s hit following its revival at the 1973 Sunbury Pop Festival.

SAM HARRIS
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
USA 1985
Later version
#16 Adelaide

Single on Motown label.

Singer who won the TV talent show Star Search in 1984, was signed to Motown and branched into writing, production and stage work... and had a hit in Adelaide! (AMG)

NIKKI WEBSTER
Over The Rainbow
(Harold Arlen - E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg)
Australia 2001
Later version
#17 Sydney #22 Melbourne #25 Brisbane #17 Adelaide

Single on Gotham label, double-sided hit with The Best Days.

Australian pop singer introduced as a 13-year-old during the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. She later played Dorothy in the Australian stage production of The Wizard of Oz. Her official site is at www.nikkiwebster.com.au.

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