In 1968, the same year Miller released his version, R&B singer O.C. Smith had a huge hit with his soul-style take, augmented by a tinkling piano and female backing vocals. It went to #2 on the Hot 100, held off from the top spot by The Beatles' "Hey Jude
Smith, who was Count Basie's vocalist in the early '60s, notched his first solo hit earlier that year with "The Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp" from his Hickory Holler Revisited
album, which also featured the track "Little Green Apples." When a Detroit disc jockey played the album cut, the overwhelming response prompted Steve Popovich, the head of promotion at Columbia, to release Smith's cover in place of his existing single, "Main Street Mission."
Smith's version earned Russell another Grammy in 1969 for Song Of The Year, besting the song's chart rival "Hey Jude," as well as " Mrs. Robinson
," "Harper Valley P.T.A.
," and Russell's own "Honey."