Long Tall Sally

Long Tall Sally EP artwork - United KingdomWritten by: Johnson-Penniman-Blackwell
Recorded: 1 March 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 19 June 1964 (UK), 10 April 1964 (US)

Paul McCartney: vocals, bass
John Lennon: lead guitar, rhythm guitar
George Harrison: lead guitar, rhythm guitar
Ringo Starr: drums
George Martin: piano

Available on:
Past Masters
Live At The BBC
Anthology 1
On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2

This McCartney-led romp through Little Richard’s rock ‘n’ roll classic was recorded in a single take during the sessions for A Hard Day’s Night.

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The song was originally released by Little Richard in March 1956, and was a staple of The Beatles’ live set from 1957 right up to their final show in San Francisco in 1966 – the most enduring of any of their songs.

Little Richard was one of the all-time greats. The first time I heard him a friend of mine had been to Holland and brought back a 78 with Long Tall Sally on one side, and Slippin’ And Slidin’ on the other. It blew our heads – we’d never heard anybody sing like that in our lives and all those saxes playing like crazy.
John Lennon
Anthology

The group had played with Little Richard in England and Hamburg during the early 1960s, and McCartney was especially proud of his ability to mimic his hero’s vocal delivery.

One of the things I didn’t like about the film Backbeat is that they gave Long Tall Sally to the John character. I was not amused. I always sang that: me and Little Richard.
Paul McCartney
Anthology

Long Tall Sally was taped in the midst of the sessions for the A Hard Day’s Night album. It is possible that the song was considered for inclusion in the film, possibly during the live finale, but was deemed to be surplus to requirements.

In the UK it was first released as the lead song on the Long Tall Sally EP. The US heard it two months earlier, on The Beatles’ Second Album.

The Beatles included Long Tall Sally during Around The Beatles, a TV show for the ITV network filmed on 19 April 1964. The version can be found on Anthology 1.

An earlier radio version, recorded on 16 July 1963 and broadcast on 13 August, was included on Live At The BBC. The Beatles recorded six other versions of Long Tall Sally for BBC radio between 1 April 1963 and 17 July 1964.

In the studio

The Beatles recorded Long Tall Sally in a single take on 1 March 1964. Having played it so often live, they simply had no need to record it twice.

The song featured two guitar solos, the first played by John Lennon and the second by George Harrison.

During the same session, which lasted from 10am to 1.30pm, the group also completed I’m Happy Just To Dance With You and I Call Your Name.

Lyrics

I’m gonna tell Aunt Mary ’bout Uncle John
He said he had the misery but he got a lot of fun
Oh baby, yeah now baby
Woo baby, some fun tonight

I saw Uncle John with Long Tall Sally
He saw Aunt Mary coming and he ducked back in the alley
Oh, baby, yeah now baby
Woo baby, some fun tonight

Well Long Tall Sally she’s built for speed
She got everything that Uncle John needs
Oh baby, yeah now baby
Woo baby, some fun tonight

Well, we’re gonna have some fun tonight
Have some fun tonight
Ooh, everything’s all right
Have some fun tonight
Have some fun
Yeah, yeah, yeah

We’re gonna have some fun tonight
Have some fun tonight
Everything’s all right
Have some fun tonight
Yeah we’ll have some fun
Some fun tonight

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11 Responses to “Long Tall Sally”

  1. scott

    Elvis Presley also sang this song–but his interpretation has definitley not the same freshness nor charm as Little Richard’s or Paul McCartney’s.

    Reply
  2. brian

    The Beatles version of Long Tall Sally is simply amazing, from Paul’s vocal to George’s guitar solo. The piano playing in the background is nothing to sneeze at either. And in one take too!

    Reply
      • David

        I would love to have seen the suave, urbane George Martin hammering out 12-bar rock ‘n roll piano while Paul was shrieking away doing his Little Richard impersonation!

        Reply
  3. timharrod

    This song plays an important role in the early history of the Beatles: It was the opening song in their legendary breakthrough set at Litherland Town Hall, December 27, 1960. Everything Little Richard has accomplished is only augmented by his connection to the first incredible flash of Beatlemania.

    Reply
  4. beatlesboy

    I read somewhere that since they only had to transcribe the lyrics off the vinyl record, some of the lyrics didn’t match those of Little Richard’s, for example, Paul sang “Well, Long Tall Sally drew pretty pictures of Everything that Uncle John did”

    Reply
  5. MIMS

    The Beatles version of this song is, to me, the greatest pure rock and roll performance of all time. The energy is flippin’ incredible, absolutely everything about it is perfect.

    Reply

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