Rock ‘N’ Roll
John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar
Phil Spector: electric guitar, piano
Jesse Ed Davis, Steve Cropper, Art Munson, William Perry, Louis Shelton, Dale Anderson, Larry Carlton, David Cohen, Jose Feliciano: guitar
Ray Neapolitan, Bob Glaub, Thomas Hensley: bass guitar
Jeff Barry, Andy Thomas, Michael Wofford, Michael Lang, Barry Mann, Michael Melvoin: piano
Mac Rebennack, Michael Omartian, Leon Russell: keyboards
William Perkins, Robert Hardaway: woodwind
Nino Tempo: saxophone, keyboards
Bobby Keys, Jim Horn, Plas Johnson, Ronald Langinger, Donald Menza, Gene Cipriano: saxophone
Anthony Terran, Conte Candoli, Chuck Findley: trumpet
Julian Matlock: clarinet
Joseph Kelson: horn
Jim Keltner, Hal Blaine, Frank Capp, Jim Gordon: drums
Gary Coleman, Alan Estes, Steven Forman, Terry Gibbs: percussion
Written and recorded by Chuck Berry in 1956, ‘You Can’t Catch Me’ inspired part of The Beatles’ song ‘Come Together’. The similarity between the two led to a court case, which resulted in John Lennon recording Berry’s song for his 1975 album Rock ‘N’ Roll.
‘Come Together’ is me, writing obscurely around an old Chuck Berry thing. I left the line in, ‘Here comes old flat-top’. It is nothing like the Chuck Berry song, but they took me to court because I admitted the influence once years ago. I could have changed it to ‘Here comes old iron face,’ but the song remains independent of Chuck Berry or anybody else on Earth.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Lennon was sued by music publisher Morris Levy, whose Big Seven Music Corporation owned the rights to ‘You Can’t Catch Me’. Levy argued that ‘Come Together’, which contained the line “Here come old flat top”, plagiarised Berry’s song.
Keen to avoid a court case, Lennon agreed to record at least three songs owned by Levy on his next release. Between October and December 1973 he recorded a number of rock ‘n’ roll oldies with Phil Spector, but the project was shelved when Lennon and Spector’s working relationship proved untenable. They had, however, recorded two Levy-owned songs: ‘Angel Baby’ and ‘You Can’t Catch Me’.
Lennon gave Levy a rough tape of the work in progress, which was subsequently released as Roots: John Lennon Sings The Great Rock & Roll Hits. This mail-order LP, which included ‘You Can’t Catch Me’ and 14 other tracks, was quickly withdrawn when Lennon and Capitol Records threatened to sue.
The case against Lennon was eventually concluded in July 1976, when Levy’s Big Seven Music Corporation was awarded $6,795 for breach of an oral agreement. Lennon’s countersuit, regarding the unauthorised release of Roots, resulted in him, Capitol Records and EMI Records receiving $109,700 to compensate for lost income; Lennon was awarded an additional $35,000 in punitive damages.