Sweet Little Sixteen

Live At The BBC album artworkWritten by: Chuck Berry
Recorded: 10 July 1963
Producer: Terry Henebery

Released: 30 November 1994 (UK), 5 December 1994 (US)

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

Available on:
Live At The BBC

Although a part of The Beatles’ live show for some time, they only recorded Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen once – for a BBC radio show.

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Chuck Berry first released the song as a single in January 1958. Like the majority of Berry’s songs performed by The Beatles, John Lennon took lead vocals.

We might change the programme for the Olympia tomorrow, and put in some of the early rock numbers we used to do in Hamburg and at the Cavern – like Sweet Little Sixteen and things. Easy.
John Lennon, 1964
Anthology

The group performed it for the sixth edition of the Pop Go The Beatles radio show, on 10 July 1963. It was recorded at the Aeolian Hall, London, and first broadcast on 23 July.

An earlier version, captured at the Star-Club in Hamburg in December 1962, also exists on Beatles bootlegs.

Lyrics

They’re really rockin’ in Boston
Philadelphia, PA
Deep in the heart of Texas
And down in Frisco Bay
All over St Louis
And down in New Orleans
All the cats wanna dance with
Sweet little sixteen

Sweet little sixteen
She’s just got to have
About half a million
Framed autographs
Her wallet filled with pictures
She gets them one by one
Becomes so excited
Watch her, look at her run

Oh Mommy, Mommy
Please may I go
It’s such a sight to see
Somebody steal the show
Oh Daddy, Daddy
I beg of you
Whisper to Mommy
It’s alright with you

Sweet little sixteen
She got the grown up blues
Tight dresses and lipstick
She’s sporting high heel shoes
Oh but tomorrow morning
She’ll have to change her trend
Become sweet sixteen
And back in class again

Yeah ’cause they’ll be rockin’ in Boston
Philadelphia, PA
Deep in the heart of Texas
And down in Frisco Bay
All over St Louis
And down in New Orleans
All the cats wanna dance with
Sweet little sixteen

2 responses on “Sweet Little Sixteen

  1. Obsessed

    The vocals are unbelievable. When Lennon raises it to “Oh Mommy Mommy,” and “All over St Louis” it’s just inexpressible how good it is. It’s like we really are going to go all over St Louis, like we really might just do it. If that moment could just last forever we might just be forever sixteen, forever young.

    Berry saw it, he commented on it. Lennon made it, he told us it, made us feel it and believe in it. Listening to those moments, that’s when we are exactly furthest away from disillusionment and at the same time just about to fall most deeply back into it.

  2. John Nixon

    I’ve had the thought that maybe this was in McCartney’s head when he wrote I Saw Her Standing There. Everybody wants to dance with sweet little 16…..she was just 17, I’ll never dance with another.

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