It was a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s and won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. It was written in 1962, with music by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. English lyrics were written later by Norman Gimbel.
The first commercial recording was in 1962, by Pery Ribeiro. The 1964 single performed by Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz, shortened from the version on the 1963 album Getz/Gilberto (which also included the Portuguese lyrics sung by Joao Gilberto), became an international hit. In the US, it peaked at number five on the Hot 100, and went to number one for two weeks on the Easy Listening chart. Overseas it peaked at number 29 in the United Kingdom, and charted highly throughout the world. Numerous recordings have been used in films, sometimes as an elevator music cliché. It is believed to be the second most recorded pop song in history, after “Yesterday” by The Beatles.
The song was composed for a musical comedy titled Dirigível (Blimp), then a work-in-progress of Vinícius de Moraes. The original title was “Menina que Passa” (“The Girl Who Passes By”); the famous first verse was different. Jobim composed the melody on his piano in his new house in Rua Barão da Torre, in Ipanema (Ipanema is a fashionable seaside neighbourhood located in the southern region of the city of Rio de Janeiro). In turn, Moraes had written the lyrics in Petrópolis, near Rio de Janeiro, as he had done with “Chega de Saudade” (“No More Blues”) six years earlier.
During a recording session in New York with João Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Stan Getz, the idea of cutting an English-language version came up. João’s wife, Astrud Gilberto, was the only one of the Brazilians who could speak English well and was chosen to sing. Her voice, without trained singer mannerisms, proved a perfect fit for the song. (source Wikipedia)