HomeMusicBrent Johnson's Lost Songs: The Early Beatles

Brent Johnson’s Lost Songs: The Early Beatles

brent johnson digs up a few lost treasures from The Beatles this week …

It’s easy to forget that before they sparked hysteria across the globe, before they opened minds with Sgt. Pepper, before they reinvented rock ‘n’ roll, The Beatles started out as a cracking good cover band.

In the late-’50s and early ’60s, John, Paul and George honed their chops with original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe and original drummer Pete Best by sweating through marathon sets in tiny clubs in Hamburg, Germany, and their native Liverpool. They played Motown singles, crooner tunes, and songs by Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins — adding driving guitars and a swinging backbeat. They also flashed their charm and sense of humor on numbers like Leiber & Stoller’s ‘Three Cool Cats’:

Soon, screaming fans were packing their shows at The Cavern Club in Liverpool. The Beatles caught the attention of local record shop owner Brian Epstein, who signed on as their manager. Not long after, the band sacked Best in favor of Ringo Starr, a drummer in another popular local band. (Sutcliffe had already left the band and soon after died of a brain aneurysm.)

Here’s the pre-Fab Four’s storming take on Richie Barrett’s ‘Some Other Guy’:


Of course, The Beatles had something else few other bands did at the time: the ability to write their own songs. But even on their early albums, they continued to include cover tunes. They still managed to be inventive, though. On their debut album, 1963’s Please Please Me, they turned the show tune ‘A Taste Of Honey’ into an eerie, proto-alt-rock track:




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