There's been a real debate amongst Rock'n'Roll erudites and scholars on who actually wrote the classic "Love is Strange" (which later made hits most notably for the Everly Brothers, later Sonny and Cher, and inspired Buddy Holly's "Words Of Love"... ), and that debate lately heated up when Mickey Baker, the writer of Rock'n'Roll's first guitar method and original hitmaker with Duet partner Sylvia Robinson (herself future founder of Rap's first hit label : Sugarhill Records... ! ), died last year... until I read a quote from an original interview printed on an article about Mickey Baker on the latest French Oldies magazine : "Jukebox magazine" that recounted what had actually happened...
The story goes like this : apparently, Sylvia who was a great fan of Bo Diddley's and used to attend a lot of his gigs, loved an original number which he would perform on stage that she thought would be wonderful for the duet act she was having with Mickey Baker at the time; it was called "Paradise", but remained unreleased since Chess rejected the track and Ellas "Bo Diddley" McDaniels had to register the song under his wife's maiden name "Ethel Smith" for contractual reasons. Now, Mickey disliked the tune, finding the original lyrics even ridiculous... he finally gave out to Sylvia's urging and rewrote the lyrics, readapting the tune as "Love is Strange", keeping the intantaneously recognizable gimmicky guitar riff by Jody Williams (which Williams had played on Billy Stewart's debut single "Billy's Blues" before!.. ) that was later used by Dave "Baby" Cortez in his 1962 instrumental song "Rinky Dink" too (...the mind boggles! )... and the rest is Rock'n'Roll HIstory!
Nevertheless, the co-writers of the song are of some dispute since, Sylvia Robinson claims that she and Mickey Baker wrote the lyrics, while Bo Diddley claims that he wrote them. However (according to Wikipedia source... ), it appears the first recorded version of "Love Is Strange" was performed by Bo Diddley himself (! ), who recorded his version on May 24, 1956 with Jody Williams on lead guitar (this version was not released until its appearance on I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955-1958 in 2007... ); while Mickey & Sylvia's version was recorded several months later on October 17, 1956... hm!
Now, if you type the words "LOVE IS STRANGE" on the BMI website, they currently list the writers as all three : Bo, Mickey and Sylvia... !!!?
BAKER MICKEY SACEM 1863218 (French copyright )
ROBINSON SYLVIA BMI 26288282
MC DANIEL ELLAS BMI 63640292
Hm... What to think now? Love is Strange indeed! ;-)
(PS : The funny part is, despite the dispute, Bo Diddley went on to pen a song specialy for the Duo called : "Dearest"... ! ) :