Johnny Cash’s ‘The Gambler’? 15 Hit Songs Originally Written For Other Artists

By: 10.24.13  •  14 Comments

Spin’s David Marchese recently spoke to author Robert Hilburn, the former music critic for the Los Angeles Times who next week will release an in-depth biography of the Man in Black entitled Johnny Cash: The Life. In writing the book, Hilburn’s intention was to, in his own words, “sit down…like I was writing about a President or a statesman, someone who was important in society and culture.”

One of Hilburn’s findings in his research was that Cash had an opportunity to record “The Gambler,” but passed; eventually, the song became a major hit for Kenny Rogers. Not that Cash was lost any sleep over his decision. Those “Everybody Loves a Nut” royalties provided enough black boots for two lifetimes. Anyway, here are 15 other artists who were offered and declined songs that eventually became hit singles for other musicians.

1. “Where Did Our Love Go?” by the Supremes; originally written for the Marvelettes

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2. “Dangerous” by Roxette; originally written for Don Johnson

3. “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” by Tony Tony Bennett; originally written for Claramae Turner

4. “Rock Your Body” by Justin Timberlake; originally written for Michael Jackson

5. “Hero” by Mariah Carey; originally written for Gloria Estefan

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