This is the shortened WIKI narrative of how this pop classic came to Motown.”For Once in My Life” is a pop song written by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden for Motown Records’ Jobete publishing company in 1967. The composition was originally recorded by Jean DuShon who had originally been tapped by Ron Miller to demo “For Once in My Life”, as he was “fine-tuning” the composition. Miller was impressed by DuShon’s rendition of the song, and she released her version as a single on Chess Records’ Cadet label early in 1966.
Motown CEO Berry Gordy found out that Miller, a Motown staff writer, had given the song to an outside artist, and had Miller immediately make the song available for Motown artist Barbara McNair, who included the song on her November 1966 album release, Here I Am, and later for Stevie Wonder and The Temptations to record.
Meanwhile, DuShon’s version made no significant impact on the singles charts, but was chosen “Pick Hit of the Week” by Detroit’s WXYZ in 1966, but Chess Records dropped the ball by not promoting the record. Miss DuShon was so distraught at the failure of the record, she dropped it from her popular nightclub act. “
The beautiful Barbara McNair was the first Motown artist to record this song. It appeared on her first Lp entitled “Here I Am” that was released in November 1966. But all the songs for this outing were recorded much earlier, specifically in October – December 1965 and March to June 1966! The song was also put on the B-side of her single “Steal Away Tonight” but then cancelled for some unknown reason. Eventually, in addition to appearing on “Here I Am” – McNair’s version of FOIML was *finally* released on the B-side of her “Where Would I Be without You” single in March 1968!
The Temptations’ version was done in 1967 for their pop standards album “The Temptations in a Mellow Mood.” I really, really love this album. Paul Williams sings the lead vocal to this ballad that became his signature song in concert. A live version appears on the 1968 LP “Live at the Copa”.
This video is one of many live versions on record — all of which are show stoppers BTW. Enjoy!
On the next day Stevie Wonder laid this vocal down to the track!
Ok – now that we have five versions, let’s vote right here.
Filed under:Barbara McNair,Diana Ross,For Once In My Life,Gladys Knight & the Pips,Motown,Motown Covers Motown,Motown Covers Pop,Motown/Gordy,Motown/Soul,Motown/Tamla,R&B/Motown,Ron Miller & Orlando Murden,Sixties,Stevie Wonder,The Funk Brothers,The Temptations