Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Help! album artworkWritten by: Williams
Recorded: 10 May 1965
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 6 August 1965 (UK), 14 June 1965 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, rhythm guitar, Hammond organ
Paul McCartney: bass, Hohner Pianet electric piano
George Harrison: double-tracked lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums, cowbell

Available on:
Help!
Live At The BBC

The Beatles recorded Larry Williams’ Dizzy Miss Lizzie for their US record company Capitol, who released it on the 1965 compilation Beatles VI.

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Dizzy Miss Lizzie had been a part of The Beatles’ live repertoire since their earliest days. It was originally released as a single by Williams in 1958, with Slow Down on the b-side.

Although it wasn’t intended for the Help! LP, The Beatles evidently decided their version was good enough to be included. It appeared as the album’s final song, slightly retitled as Dizzy Miss Lizzy, as a rock ‘n’ roll finale to follow Paul McCartney’s Yesterday.

John Lennon also sang the song at the first Plastic Ono Band concert, at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival on 13 September 1969.

In the studio

The Beatles recorded Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Bad Boy on 10 May 1965; both were sung by John Lennon.

In an out-take I heard recently – recording Dizzy Miss Lizzy – John is saying, ‘What’s wrong with that?’ and George Martin says, ‘Erm… it wasn’t exciting enough, John,’ and John mumbles, ‘Bloody hell,’ – that kind of thing was creeping in a bit – ‘It wasn’t exciting enough, eh? Well, you come here and sing it, then!’ I think that’s just the pressure of work. When you’ve been working hard for a long time, you really start to need a break.
Paul McCartney
Anthology

The group recorded two takes of the song early in the session, which began at 8pm and ended at 11.30. They then turned their attention to Bad Boy, before recording a further five takes of Dizzy Miss Lizzy.

To the last of these Lennon overdubbed an organ part, and Harrison double-tracked his lead guitar. The songs were mixed in the same session and were released a month later in America.

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15 Responses to “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”

  1. SD

    Harrisons lead guitar is double-tracked and there’s no electric piano in this recording, it is actually a Hammond organ played by Lennon.

    “The Beatles are increasingly drawn to the keyboard: in ‘Dizzy’, Lennon plays a Hammond organ, and in ‘Bad Boy’ McCartney overdubs the Pianet.” (Everett, S. 299)

    Reply
    • Steve

      Beware of hard-and-fast statements on who played what. The Everett books are great, but he wasn’t there in the studio. Kehew & Ryan, who also weren’t there but whose analysis of the Beatles’ recordings is extraordinary, plump for Paul playing the Pianet, as he did on Bad Boy recorded earlier in the session. I’d side with them. Either way, the keyboard is so low in the mix, no one can be sure.

      Reply
      • Joe

        Yeah, I discovered that to my cost. Everett is excellent on musicology, but his ideas of who played which instrument are often questionable.

        Reply
  2. Megan

    Wasn’t the B-side to the Larry Williams release of “Dizzy Miss Lizzie” actually “Slow Down”? (And then “Bad Boy” was the B-side to “She Said Yeah”, I think.)

    I don’t own either of these singles, sadly, but I think I’m remembering this correctly. Anyway, love your site– it’s one of the best ones out there!

    Reply
    • Joe

      Hi Megan. Yes, you’re right – the Larry Williams b-side was Slow Down, another great song. My mistake; I probably got confused as Bad Boy was recorded by The Beatles on the same day, and was included on Beatles VI in the US.

      Love your site too – it’s always good to meet fellow Beatles obsessives, even if only virtually!

      Reply
  3. carlos gutman

    Bad boy, Wait, That means a lot & If you´ve got trouble weren´t included in the album (either Yes it is and I´m down though they were singles b-sides) and they prefered Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Act naturally. Exactly at this time they started to make real decissions.

    Reply
  4. David Lee Fairey

    There aren’t many stinkers in the canon of Beatles’ songs but this sure is one. A horrendous way to close the otherwise fairly pleasant Help! album. Yesterday should have closed the album, even if it meant us never hearing Dizzy Miss Lizzy.

    One thing you can hardly ever accuse the Beatles of is of sounding bored but here they seem to be falling asleep. Even Ringo begins to wind down. almost coming to a halt.

    The lead guitar is painful to the ears; it’s the Beatles ‘going through the motions’.

    And they even performed it live.

    Whatever were they thinking, on both occasions?!!

    Reply
    • Les

      Don’t understand your concept of rock and roll I’m afraid. According to Paul’s comment I think John would have said the same about your response to this song. It is great rock and roll

      Reply
    • David

      I agree with you.

      In retrospect “Yesterday” as the final track on the album would have been such an innovative and “Beatles” thing to have done. I just think the convention of ending albums on an up-beat track was so strong that not even the Beatles or Martin at this point in their careers could quite see the angle. Would have been epic.

      Reply
  5. Bill

    Their version of this song is a note-for-note copy of Larry Williams’ original. It doesn’t sound boring to me. Interesting, Paul did all of Little Richard’s songs & John did all of Larry Williams’, and both artists were on the same label, Specialty Records…

    Reply
  6. Bill

    Larry Williams’ original of this really smokes, very bottom-heavy. Sounds as though the room is about to explode…

    Reply
  7. Andrew Jackson

    I think this is one of the better songs on Help!
    Apart from Yellow Submarine, and Revolver, Help! is one of my least favorite albums.

    Reply
  8. Bill

    The comments are interesting about these cover versions. One thing you’ll notice is that of all the cover versions the group recorded (for EMI anyway), they’re very faithful to the original artists’ versions, so it really isn’t fair to analyze them too closely. Obviously, the group loved the originals as they were…

    Reply
  9. allears

    I agree with some of the views expressed here that this is a song that doesn’t stand up. It has energy and emotion – much like Twist and Shout – but this cover comes off as over the top and sloppy. It tries too hard. Heard this today for the first time in a long time…and I just realized listening to it today for the first time that the lead guitar is double tracked. It just wanders about..dreadful.

    Reply
  10. Carlos A

    The Beatles surely didn’t need keyboards on this track.
    Any insight as to why John overdubbed them on this?

    Reply

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