Here is another case of a song being covered by two singers and both versions going to number one. “Butterfly” was originally done by a guy named Charlie Gracie. He recorded it first and Andy Williams covered it.
Now, Andy Williams was a big star in the Fifties & Sixties (and later), but no one had heard of Charlie Gracie, so William’s version went straight to number one. This gave support to Gracie’s version which also reached number one about four months later.
There’s not much to say about this song except that there seems to be some dispute as to who actually wrote it. Some sources say that the writing team of Bernie Lowe and Kal Mann wrote it. They were famous for many songs in the rock and roll era, like “Good Time Baby” and “Kissin’ Time” by Bobby Rydell and “Mashed Potato Time” by Dee Dee Sharp, among others. Lowe and Mann also wrote “Teddy Bear” which was a number one song for Elvis Presley.
It seems that writing credit is also claimed by Anthony Mammarella who wrote songs under the name of Anthony September. He was the first producer of the television show American bandstand.
Andy Williams was a superstar during the Sixties. He had his own television show from 1962 until 1971 and is well known, even today. He just died about a year ago on September 15, 2015. He recorded 44 albums during his career and I doubt “Butterfly” was even a blip on his radar. He is probably most famous for “Moon River” which he recorded in 1961. Oddly enough, Williams never hit the charts with “Moon River.”
Charlie Gracie was much less known. I’d be surprised if many people today even remember him. Born Charlie Graci (without the ‘e’), he is called a rock pioneer. He started recording records in 1952, but never really hit it big until he found “Butterfly” which he recorded on the Cameo label in Philadelphia at a cost of $500. The record went on to sell over two million copies.
The Andy Williams version entered the pop chart on March 30, 1957 and stayed at number one for three weeks. Charlie Gracie’s version entered the charts on April 13 and stayed on top for two weeks.
Here are videos of the two versions:
Next: “Party Doll” – Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids