My Bonnie / The Saints
The single My Bonnie / The Saints stands out for a number of reasons, most obviously because this single was the very first commercial release of a Beatles song. It was first released in October, 1961 in Germany and has been released numerous times in various iterations since.
Early in their careers, The Beatles landed gigs playing bars in the red-light district in Hamburg, Germany. On their second trip to Hamburg which began in April, 1961, they ended up playing in a bar called the Top Ten Club. Fellow Englishman Tony Sheridan was also playing there and The Beatles (which at the time included Stu Sutcliff on bass and Pete Best on drums) frequently backed him. Polydor Records A&R executive Bert Kaempfert caught their act one night and decided to sign both Sheridan and The Beatles.
On June 22 and 23, 1961 The Beatles and Tony Sheridan recorded seven songs at Friedrich-Ebert-Halle including My Bonnie and The Saints. Though The Beatles stood out on other tracks, Sheridan took the lead vocal and did the arrangements on these two songs. By the time of the aforementioned recording dates, Stu Sutcliff had left the band and so the lineup consisted of Sheridan on vocals, Lennon and Harrison on guitar, McCartney on bass, and Pete Best on drums.
The song My Bonnie is a rock and roll adaptation of the traditional Scottish folk song "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" with a credit to composer "H.J. Fuller". The B-side of the single is a song referred to as "The Saints," but is more widely known as "When the Saints Go Marching In" - a classic American gospel song believed to have originated in New Orleans.
The original German release of My Bonnie / The Saints was credited to "Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers," but the subsequent UK release was credited to "Tony Sheridan & The Beatles" with later releases evolving into "The Beatles with Tony Sheridan" reflecting the fact that The Beatles had become a big act.
Whatever the official name of the band, this was the first time music by The Beatles was released commercially. Though the release created some buzz around Liverpool, the single didn't actually chart in the UK until over a year later when The Beatles' popularity began to surge thereby creating an interest in this older recording.
The My Bonnie single is historically important for another reason - it was this release that attracted the attention of the Beatles' future manager, Brian Epstein, which led to a fateful collaboration between the two that would see The Beatles reach heights never before achieved in popular music.
My Bonnie was also released as an EP, an album, and on numerous compilations over the couse of the ensuing decades. My Bonnie / The Saints was released in various forms itself - so much so that collectors of rare Beatles records often have trouble knowing what's authentic and what's not with respect to this release.
|October 23, 1961||Polydor||NH 24673||Germany||Title of Bonnie (Mein Herz ist bei dir nur), German intro, attributed to Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers, label says "Rock"|
|December 7, 1961||Polydor||NH 24673||Germany||English intro, remastered, attributed to Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers, label says "Twist"|
|January 5, 1962||Polydor||NH 66833||UK||English intro, attributed to Tony Sheridan & The Beatles|
|April 11, 1962||Decca||NH 31382||US||English into, attributed to Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers (no &)|
|January 27, 1964||MGM||K 13213||US||No intro, attributed to The Beatles with Tony Sheridan|