Recording: Summertime

15 October 1960 was the first occasion on which John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr recorded music together – a version of the George Gershwin classic ‘Summertime’.

They were the backing group for Lu Walters, whose real name was Walter Eymond although everyone knew him as Wally. Walters was the bassist in Rory Storm’s band The Hurricanes, which also featured Starr on drums.

We also recorded with Lou Walters. He was Rory Storm’s bass player. He was a guy who thought he was a singer. He paid to have the record made himself, as we had done in Liverpool with ‘That’ll Be The Day’.
George Harrison

The recording was made in the small Akustik studio by the railway station at Kirchenallee 57, Hamburg, where members of the public were able to record messages for family and friends and have them pressed to 78rpm acetate discs. The discs had spoken word advertisements on the b-sides.

Label of 78rpm disc of Summertime, featuring Lu Walters and The Beatles, October 1960

Stuart Sutcliffe was present at the recording but didn’t play. Also at the studio was The Beatles’ manager Allan Williams, and guitarists Johnny Byrne and Ty Brian of The Hurricanes.

In addition to ‘Summertime’, Starr, Walters, Byrne and Brian are also believed to have recorded ‘Fever’ and ‘September Song’. Around six copies of ‘Summertime’ were pressed onto acetate disc, though none are known to have survived.

The Beatles are said to have wanted to record some songs on their own – though whether this would have been with Sutcliffe and Starr is unknown. Furthermore, their drummer at the time, Pete Best, was not present. Either way, Williams feared they would be late for their 8pm start at the Kaiserkeller, and so put a stop to the session.

Paul McCartney recorded a solo version of ‘Summertime’ in July 1987. It was released in 1991 on the international edition of Choba B CCCP.

Last updated: 6 February 2023
The Beatles live: Kaiserkeller, Hamburg
The Beatles live: Kaiserkeller, Hamburg
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