A home demo of ‘Hello Little Girl’, currently available only on bootleg, was recorded in early 1960 with Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison on guitars, and Stuart Sutcliffe on bass. While the sound quality is inevitably inferior to the Decca version, and certain lines were only half-written, this early recording shows the strong influence of Buddy Holly on Lennon’s early work.
According to Lennon, another influence was Cole Porter’s song ‘It’s De-Lovely’, which first appeared in the 1936 stage musical Red, Hot And Blue.
That was me. That was actually my first song. [Singing] ‘When I see you every day I say mmm hmm, hello little girl.’ I remember some Thirties or Forties song which was [singing] ‘You’re delightful, you’re delicious and da da da. Isn’t it a pity that you are such a scatterbrain.’ [Laughing] That always fascinated me for some reason or another. It’s also connected to my mother. It’s all very Freudian. She used to sing that one. So I made ‘Hello Little Girl’ out of it.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
By the time of the Decca audition, the group had tightened their performance, transforming ‘Hello Little Girl’ into something approaching a commercially-viable pop song. The vocal harmonies, too, point the way to the sound which would later become a Beatles trademark.
The song was performed for Decca in an attempt to demonstrate the quality of the group’s original material. While it was unusual in the early 1960s for groups to write their own songs, Lennon and McCartney claimed to have written dozens in their early days.
The Beatles performed ‘Hello Little Girl’ and McCartney’s ‘Like Dreamers Do’ during the Decca audition. That both songs had been a part of The Quarrymen’s live set since 1958 suggests that they were still unsure of the quality of their own songs, and were perhaps less prolific writers than they claimed to be.
The song didn’t remain in The Beatles’ repertoire for much longer, and was never recorded for EMI. It was, however, performed at an audition for BBC radio, which took place at Broadcasting House in Manchester on 12 February 1962.
‘Hello Little Girl’ was later offered to Gerry and the Pacemakers as the follow-up to ‘How Do You Do It’. They recorded a demo of the song on 17 July 1963, but opted instead for Mitch Murray’s song ‘I Like It’.
It was then given to another Merseybeat act, The Fourmost. Produced by George Martin at EMI Studios on 3 July 1963, their version was released on 30 August and reached number nine in the UK charts.
Unfortunately the words aren’t too wonderful. They’re a bit average, but the Fourmost were eager to have a hit and they were very good friends of ours. They were more of a comedy group, a really very funny cabaret act, and when it came to making a record and being serious on a TV show, they always laughed and giggled. They were always having such a laugh, it was very difficult for them. They just weren’t the kind of guys who were going to get a major hit. I tried a few times.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles