John Lennon: vocals
Jesse Ed Davis, Steve Cropper, Jose Feliciano, Art Munson, William Perry, Louis Shelton, Dale Anderson, Larry Carlton, David Cohen: guitar
Phil Spector: guitar, piano
Mac Rebennack, Leon Russell, Michael Omartian: keyboards
Nino Tempo: saxophone, keyboards
Bob Glaub, Thomas Hensley, Ray Neapolitan: bass guitar
William Perkins, Robert Hardaway: woodwind
Anthony Terran: trumpet
Jeff Barry, Andy Thomas, Michael Wofford, Michael Lang, Barry Mann, Michael Melvoin: piano
Bobby Keys, Jim Horn, Plas Johnson, Ronald Langinger, Donald Menza, Gene Cipriano: saxophone
Joseph Kelson: horn
Julian Matlock: clarinet
Conte Candoli, Chuck Findley: trumpet
Jim Keltner, Hal Blaine, Frank Capp, Jim Gordon: drums
Gary Coleman, Alan Estes, Steve Forman, Terry Gibbs: percussion
John Lennon recorded a cover version of Phil Spector’s classic song ‘To Know Her Is To Love Her’ during the initial sessions for the Rock ‘N’ Roll album late in 1973. It remained unreleased until the posthumous 1986 collection Menlove Ave.
The song was originally titled ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’, and was first recorded by Spector’s group The Teddy Bears. Released in 1958, it became a chart-topper and was covered by a number of acts.
The Beatles had recorded their own version during their ill-fated audition for Decca on 1 January 1962. The recording, featuring Lennon on lead vocals and Pete Best, has never been officially released, but is widely available on bootlegs.
The song was a regular feature of The Beatles’ stage repertoire at this time. A version, recorded in December 1962 was issued on the unofficial 1977 release Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962, although that low-fidelity recording is currently unavailable in most countries.
The group recorded ‘To Know Her Is To Love Her’ again on 16 July 1963, for the BBC radio show Pop Go The Beatles. It was first broadcast on 6 August that year, and was eventually released on 1994’s Live At The BBC.
Towards the end of 1973 Lennon and Spector began work on what became the Rock ‘N’ Roll album. Inspired by Cher’s recent recording of The Ronettes’ ‘Baby I Love You’, which slowed down the song to a stately, almost funereal tempo, the pair decided to repeat the trick on two other Spector songs: ‘Be My Baby’ and ‘To Know Her Is To Love Her’.
Slowing down golden oldies became a recurring theme in Spector’s productions during these sessions; he repeated the trick on the previously-upbeat ‘You Can’t Catch Me’, ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’, ‘Bony Moronie’, and ‘Since My Baby Left Me’.
Stripping away the sprightly swing of the original, Lennon’s recording was a majestic, stately performance with a larynx-shredding vocal and full Wall of Sound production. Lennon may have been singing for his estranged wife Yoko Ono, but Spector’s work behind the mixing desk brought back the song to its origins, as a requiem for his father.
Although it would have been a highlight of the Rock ‘N’ Roll album, ‘To Know Her Is To Love Her’ remained unreleased until 1986. It was issued as part of Menlove Ave, a collection of songs recorded during the sessions for Mind Games, Walls And Bridges, and Rock ‘N’ Roll.