Who Did ‘Alone’ First Before Heart?

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Song: Alone (1983)

Artist: i-Ten

Writers: Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly

Album: Taking a Cold Look

Label: Epic

You probably know Alone as one of the most famous songs by Heart, and for good reason. But it was actually written and recorded by a little-known group called i-Ten in 1983. Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, the founding members of the band, named after the interstate, ‘wrote the song as a power ballad’ for their first album with the record label Epic. It never charted until Heart catapulted it into the stratosphere.

This is not a story or some unknown group that inadvertently found their failed song covered by a more successful group. Kelly actually suggested the song for Heart’s album when they were looking for a power ballad. The songwriters even rewrote the first line of the chorus because Steinberg had never liked it. Then they recorded a new demo of the song for Heart. The original line was ‘I never fared well on my own.’ and they changed it to ‘Til now, I always got by on my own.’

Heart remade the song in 1987 for their album Bad Animals. It reached number one, making it Heart’s second number one hit, after These Dreams.  Tom Kelly even sang background vocals on the track. Other hits from the album were Who Will You Run To, peaking and no. 7, and There’s the Girl, at no. 12.

Before Heart recorded it i-Ten’s version of Alone had been featured on the John Stamos musical sitcom Dreams in 1984, recorded by John Stamos and Valerie Stevenson. So, technically, Heart’s version wasn’t the first cover of the song. The show was so short-lived, however, that this afforded little exposure for the song.

Celine Dion, of course, recorded Alone again in 2008 to some success, although it never reached the top of the charts, probably owing to the fact that Heart’s version is so well-known and iconic. Alyssa Reid used the lyrics and music from the chorus for her song Alone Again, in 2010.

The group i-Ten itself was short-lived and never reached much mainstream success, but not for lack of powerhouse musicians. They had worked with Toto members Steve Lukather, David Paich, and Steve Porcaro, who helped out on the album along with Fleetwood Mac’s producer, Kenneth Caillat. Compared with other albums of the time, it had every reason to be hugely successful. Billboard agreed in its review at the time, but the charts did not reflect this opinion.

Other songs from their album have been covered as well:

  • The Easy Way Out: Juice Newton (1984)
  • The Easy Way Out: Jack Wagner (1987)
  • Cold Look: Honeymoon Suite (1988)
  • I Don’t Wanna Lose You: REO Speedwagon (1988)

Listen to Alone by i-Ten

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