The Beatles — “Lucille”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — April 21, 2022

422) The Beatles — “Lucille”

John Lennon famously almost blew out his vocal chords belting “Twist and Shout” on the Beatles’ debut album. As Ultimate Classic Rock recounts:

“Twist and Shout” is beloved for its blemishes: John Lennon’s voice is moments away from disintegration — a raw snapshot of a singer wrestling a rock song in real time. And while Lennon eventually came to admire that take himself, those imperfections originally made him squirm. That mythical performance took place in February 1963, closing out a marathon, half-day recording session for the Beatles’ debut LP, Please Please Me. . . . George Martin suggested they save “Twist and Shout” for the final song — fully aware it could wreck Lennon’s voice. “I knew that ‘Twist and Shout’ was a real larynx-tearer, and I said, ‘We’re not going to record that until the end of the day, because if we record it early on, you’re not going to have any voice left,'” the producer recalled in the 2000 Beatles Anthology book.” So that was the last thing we did that night. We did two takes, and after that, John didn’t have any voice left at all. It was good enough for the record, and it needed that linen-ripping sound.”

Well, Paul’s vocals on the Beatles’ live at the BBC performance of Little Richard’s “Lucille” on October 5, 1963 prove that he too was up to the task of a linen-ripping, voice wrecking performance. It was officially released in ’94 on the first volume of the Beatles’ Live at the BBC comps. Richie Unterberger says:

From 1962 to 1965, the Beatles made 52 appearances on the BBC, recording live-in-the-studio performances of both their official releases and several dozen songs that they never issued on disc. . . . These performances are nothing less than electrifying, especially the previously unavailable covers, which feature quite a few versions of classics by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley.

“Lucille” was a favorite of Paul’s. He sang it multiple times with the Beatles (including during the Get Back sessions) and following the Beatles (in the USSR, at the Concert for Kampuchea, etc.) — check ’em out on YouTube.

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Here is the first time the Beatles performed “Lucille” live at the BBC:

And here is Little Richard’s original:

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