The Beatles went on to influence many bands and artists but who were the Beatles influenced by. In the first part of a series we will look at some of the influences who made it on to the first Beatles album Please Please Me.
The number of bands or artists that cite the Beatles as a big musical influence is huge, but what about the bands or artists that influenced the Beatles? The Beatles didn’t just come from nowhere to set the music world ablaze, their influences helped lend a hand to the formation of what would become the Beatles sound.
The best place to start looking for who influenced the Beatles is to look at some of the bands and artists that the Beatles covered in their early days. The list is very diverse and includes Arthur Alexander, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Richie Barrett, the Shirelles, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, Larry Williams, the Coasters, the Isley Brothers and songs written by Burt Bacharach and songs written by Leiber & Stoller and songs written by Goffin & King – the list goes on!
The influences on the Beatles were certainly diverse and it can be broken down even further by considering that John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison all had different influences. One give away to which Beatles member was influenced by whom can be gained by looking at who took the lead vocals on the cover versions the Beatles performed – the theory being that whichever Beatles member took the lead vocals was a fan of the original and thus could be said to have been influenced by them!
On the debut album by the Beatles, Please Please Me, six of the 14 tracks were cover versions,
Arthur Alexander – Anna (Go To Him)
Arthur Alexander penned this song and released it as a single in 1962. The Beatles started performing it live and included it on their album Please Please Me, with John Lennon taking lead vocals.
Cookies – Chains
This song, performed by the backing band of Little Eva, hit number 17 in the US charts in 1962. It was written by prolific songwriters Goffin & King. When the Beatles recorded it for their Please Please Me album the lead vocals were taken by George Harrison.
Shirelles – Boys
The Shirelles recorded this Dixon & Farrell penned song as the B-side to their 1960 hit single Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. The Beatles performed it live on many ocassions with lead vocals being given to Ringo Starr.
Shirelles – Baby It’s You
This song was written by ‘David/Williams/Bacharach’ and was a big hit for the Shirelles. The Beatles often performed it live and included it on their debut album Please Please Me with lead vocals by John Lennon.
Lenny Welch – A Taste Of Honey
This song was penned by Bobby Scott & Ric Marlow and was originally an instrumental from the Broadway production of the same name (later made in to a film). The first vocal version was by Lenny Welch, which the Beatles popularised somewhat when they included their version on their debut album, with lead vocal duty being taken by Paul McCartney.
Isley Brothers – Twist And Shout
Everyone and their grandmother had a shot at recording their version of this song in Liverpool. The Beatles version was the closing track of their album Please Please Me with lead vocals by John Lennon.
Just the proverbial tip of the iceberg though when it comes to who were the influences of the Beatles. Six songs from their debut album were covers and the influences so far are; John Lennon – Arthur Alexander, Shirelles, Isley Brothers; Paul McCartney – Lenny Welch; George Harrison – Goffin & King.
P.S. This article was originally published by the same author on Triond on the 26th of September 2011 and can be found by clicking HERE.