Tragedy – 1958


Tragedy (Gerald H. Nelson and Fred B. Burch)

According to some reports, co-songwriter Gerald Nelson was the first to record the song, with his band The Escorts in 1958. However, Thomas Wayne and The DeLons had the first hit with the song with their October 1958 recording. The producer was Scotty Moore. appears to suggest an earlier 1958 UK release of the same Scotty Moore produced recording by Wayne on the London Records label (45-HL-U 8846).

Wikipedia says,

Wayne’s hit version was released on Memphis, Tennessee-based Fernwood Records, which was owned by Ronald “Slim” Wallace (1957–1965). The single was made with a trio of girls [Sandra Brown, Nancy Reed, and Carol Moss] recruited from the local high school.

A 1961 cover by The Fleetwoods made Billboard’s top ten (#10). Brenda Lee also recorded the song in 1961.

Thomas Wayne with The DeLons — issued in October 1958 on Fernwood Records 45-109, b/w “Saturday Date” — chart success: #5, Hot 100



The Psychos — instrumental version, issued in October 1960 on Fernwood Records 45-126, b/w “Mack the Knife”

presently unavailable


The Fleetwoods — 1961


Brenda Lee – from her 1961 album All the Way


Johnny Tillotson — from the 1963 album You Can Never Stop Me Loving You, (US) Cadence CLP 25067 (Stereo), Cadence CLP 3067 (Mono)


1963 Tender Words (LP)-Anita Kerr Singers-RCA Victor LSP 2679

Anita Kerr Singers — from the 1963 LP Tender Words, RCA Victor LSP 2679


Ronnie and The Devilles — issued in 1965 on the single Youngstown Y-605, as the B-side of “Oh Love”


Brian Hyland-1

Brian Hyland – from the 1969 album Tragedy – A Million to One, (US) Dot Records DLP 25926


Floyd Cramer — from the 1969 album Class of ’69, RCA Victor LSP-4162, LSP 4162


Paul McCartney and Wings

Paul McCartney intended to include a recording of the song on a planned double LP version of Red Rose Speedway, but Tragedy was one of a group of songs left over from 1971 Ram sessions. When Speedway was cut to a single record, Tragedy was one of the tracks cut and it went unreleased.


Jerry Garcia — out-take from Garcia’s second solo album, Compliments, released in June 1974 — included as one of ten bonus tracks on a 2004 CD reissue of the album


Ronnie Dove — issued 15 July 1976 on the single Hitsville H 6038 F, b/w “Songs We Sang as Children”


Brian Hyland — medley: “Tragedy”/ “Ginny Come Lately” — live at Little Darlin’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Palace, in Kissimmee, Florida, date unknown (1988?)


Danny Gatton – from the album Cruisin’ Deuces, 1993


Jonny Darlin — uploaded on 24 November 2007


The Fleetwoods — live, 22 October 2011, at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady, NY


Glenn Basham — published on 11 November 2012


The Puzzles — live performance; published on 29 May 2014


Steve Erickson — published on YouTube, 21 November 2014


Chris P. James (of The Burrito Brothers) — published on YouTube, 6 March 2017


Joe Searles — published on YouTube, 6 April 2017


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