Wind Beneath My Wings: Who Did It first Before Bette Midler?

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Song: Wind Beneath My Wings (1989)

Artists: Bette Midler

Writers: Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley

As songs featured in movie soundtracks go, Wind Beneath My Wings is a big deal. Played in the movie Beaches, it was a no. one hit in 1989 and won Grammy awards for both song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1990. It went on to become Bette Midler’s signature song and to be thought of as “that Bette Midler Wind Beneath My Wings Song.” But Midler, who also acted in the film, wasn’t the first to record it. In fact, it was a song that Marc Shaiman, Midler’s music director had “loved for a long time.”

It has long been assumed that the song was written for Bette Midler. Written by Larry Henley, formerly of the Newbeats, and Jeff Silbar, was first recorded by Roger Whittaker in 1982 as well as by Colleen Hewit and Sheena Easton. It was also recorded by Lee Greenwood (1983), Garry Morris (1983), Lou Rawls (1983), Gladys Knight and Gladys Knight & the Pips (1983), under the title ‘Hero.’

Colleen Hewett’s version was actually the first to chart, at 52 in Australia. Lou Rawls actually had a bigger hit with it, reaching no. 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and no. 65 on the Hot 100. Gladys Knight’s version had similar success.

Garry Morris, whose version was country, could be said to have surpassed these other versions, as it reached no. 4 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. It also won awards for Song of the Year from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. There have been many country versions since, including by Kenny Rogers in 1996.

So many versions of this song! Many will insist, however, that Sheena Easton’s was the most beautiful. You can listen below and judge for yourself. Personally, I agree. But, don’t worry, Sheena got some movie soundtrack love with the song For Your Eyes Only, the theme song for the 1981 James Bond movie of the same name. It was a no. 4 hit, spending 25 weeks on the charts. It was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 1982. She won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1982 and was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the song For Your Eyes Only. Of course, she won other awards and had other great hits. Who can forget Strut and Morning Train?

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