The miraculous transformation of “Oh! Susanna” into “Venus” by Shocking Blue

Everybody knows the song “Venus” by the Dutch rock band Shocking Blue, a major hit from 1969. The song is written by Robbie van Leeuven, the guitarist of Shocking Blue; however, the origin of the song traces far back in history.

It all started from the song “Oh! Susanna” first published as early as in 1848. It was written by Stephen Foster, who went on to become America’s first fully professional songwriter due to the popularity of this tune. The song was performed by many artists at the time, and was even copyrighted for a total of 21 times.

A version of this song performed by The Byrds on their first album Turn! Turn! Turn! (1965):

The story goes on as The Big 3 release their own version of the song in 1963. They called it “The Banjo Song“, and it featured the old lyrics adapted to a new kind of tune, which should be getting oddly familiar at this point.

In 1969, Robbie van Leeuven took this tune and combined it with new lyrics in order to create the “Venus” we know today. The Big 3 never claimed plagiarism though, which is understandable—the song underwent some major changes in the arrangement and had experienced a full-scale rebirth.

All in all, “Oh! Susanna” and “Venus” ended up being two fully different songs: first the melody was changed by The Big 3 and then the lyrics were rewritten by Robbie. A successful combination of both songs by Neil Young & Crazy Horse can be heard on their 2002 album Americana.

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