Johnny B Goode

Live At The BBC album artworkWritten by: Chuck Berry
Recorded: 7 January 1964
Producer: Bernie Andrews

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

The Beatles recorded a version of Chuck Berry's rock 'n' roll classic Johnny B Goode in 1964, for the BBC radio show Saturday Club.

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The song was written by Berry in 1955, and released as a single in March 1958. It helped seal Berry's reputation as a rock 'n' roll pioneer, and spawned a great many cover versions.

Chuck Berry was another massive influence with Johnny B Goode. We'd go up to John's bedroom with his little record player and listen to Chuck Berry records, trying to learn them.
Paul McCartney

Johnny B Goode was recorded by The Beatles on 7 January 1964, their first radio session of that year. It was performed at the Playhouse Theatre, London, and first broadcast on 15 February.

Between 1957 and 1966, The Beatles performed more songs written by Chuck Berry than by any other artist. They recorded Roll Over Beethoven in 1963 for With The Beatles, and Rock And Roll Music appeared on the following year's Beatles For Sale.

Additionally, they taped many more songs by Berry for the BBC, several of which - Sweet Little Sixteen, Carol, Memphis, Tennessee, Too Much Monkey Business and I Got To Find My Baby - appeared alongside Johnny B Goode on Live At The BBC.

In the Fifties, when people were virtually singing about nothing, Chuck Berry was writing social-comment songs, with incredible metre to the lyrics. When I hear rock, good rock, of the calibre of Chuck Berry, I just fall apart and I have no other interest in life. The world could be ending if rock 'n' roll is playing.
John Lennon, 1972


Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens
There stands a country cabin made of tar and wood
Where lives a country boy named Johnny B Goode
He never learned to read or write a book so well
He could play his guitar just like a-ringing a bell

Go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Ah, Johnny B Goode

He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack
Sit beneath the trees by the railroad track
Oh, sitting and a-playing in the shade
Strumming to the rhythm that the drivers made
People passing by used to stop and say
My, but how that country boy can play

Go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Ah, Johnny B Goode

Well, his mama told him someday you will be a man
And you will be the leader of a big old band
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music till the sun goes down
Maybe someday your name will be in lights
Saying Johnny B Goode tonight

Go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Go Johnny, go, go, go
Ah, Johnny B Goode

6 responses on “Johnny B Goode

  1. Ruswal

    I’m hearing that Lennon sings ” and you will be the leader of a Beatle band ” instead of ” big old band ” but i’m not sure.

    P.S.: I’m French.

  2. metzgermeister77

    For me, this has always been the most disappointing track on Live at the BBC (some of the lower-quality recordings notwithstanding). With John shredding up the vocal a la Twist and Shout and with a slightly faster tempo it could’ve been fantastic, but as-is it’s just kind of limp. Probably not too surprising, since it was recorded as a one-off for a radio show, rather than for an album.

  3. tzveha

    I agree with metzgermeister77 . The meter of the Live at the BBC version is so slow that you can easily here John Lennon drawing out the syllables of the words when he sings “Johnny B. Goode.” You Tube has at least one “upbeat” faster version by “Los Beatles”.

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