Beatles For Sale album artworkWritten by: Leiber-Stoller/Penniman
Recorded: 18 October 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 4 December 1964 (UK), 14 June 1965 (US)

Available on:
Beatles For Sale
Live At The BBC
Anthology 1
On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2

Personnel

Paul McCartney: lead vocals, bass, handclaps
John Lennon: backing vocals, rhythm guitar, handclaps
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar, handclaps
Ringo Starr: drums, handclaps
George Martin: piano

One of The Beatles’ most thrilling rock ‘n’ roll performances, ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey’ was recorded for Beatles For Sale in a single take in October 1964.

‘Kansas City’ had been written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952. It was first recorded in the same year by Little Willie Littlefield that same year, under the title ‘KC Lovin’’. Under its correct title, it was popularised by Wilbert Harrison in 1959, after which a number of cover versions followed.

Among these was Little Richard’s version. When performing the song live, it usually became part of a medley with his own song ‘Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!’, which was first released in 1958 as the b-side to ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’.

The Beatles saw Little Richard perform the medley in concert, and adopted it for their own set in 1962. They performed twice with him in England in October that year, and became friends with him during a two-week stint at Hamburg’s Star-Club in November.

I could do Little Richard’s voice, which is a wild, hoarse, screaming thing; it’s like an out-of-body experience. You have to leave your current sensibilities and go about a foot above your head to sing it. You have to actually go outside yourself. It’s a funny little trick and when you find it, it’s very interesting.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Granada Television filmed The Beatles for the first time at the Cavern on 22 August 1962, performing ‘Some Other Guy’ for the Know The North programme. Their sound technician Gordon Butler returned to the venue on 5 September to make a better-quality audio recording.

Butler used three microphones rather than one. He made an hour-long recording of The Beatles, of which performances of ‘Some Other Guy’ and ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!’ survived. He made five acetate discs of the two songs, one of which was sold at Christie’s auction house in August 1993.

The sound engineer ran me off an acetate of ‘Some Other Guy’ and ‘Kansas City’, and he gave another to Ray McFall and a couple to Brian Epstein. I kept mine in my box of records and I should have been more careful. When The Beatles became famous, the record disappeared. In 1993, a copy turned up at Christie’s and was sold for £15,000. I don’t know if it was my copy and anyway, I couldn’t prove it if it was.
Bob Wooler
The Cavern, Spencer Leigh

An audio fragment of the Cavern recording appeared in the Anthology series, although was partially obscured by interview speech. The complete undubbed audio later surfaced.

A recording from the Star-Club, Hamburg, taped in December 1962, is also available on bootlegs.

In the studio

Despite having mostly dropped it by 1963, The Beatles revived the ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!’ medley when their first American tour arrived at the Municipal Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri on 17 September 1964. It was rapturously received by the crowd, leading the group to consider recording it in the studio.

This they did a month later, when a shortage of original material for their fourth album Beatles For Sale led to the revival of a number of older songs.

‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!’ became one of The Beatles’ most successful cover versions. Perfected in just one take, it was one of the first songs to be taped during a mammoth session on 18 October 1964, which also saw the recording of ‘Eight Days A Week’, ‘Mr Moonlight’, ‘I Feel Fine’, ‘I’ll Follow The Sun’, ‘Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby’, ‘Rock And Roll Music’, and ‘Words Of Love’.

The Beatles did record a second take of the medley during the session, although this remained unissued until 1995 when it was the final song on Anthology 1.

BBC recordings

The Beatles had mostly dropped ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!’ from their live set by 1963, although the medley was performed for a BBC radio session that year on 16 July, first broadcast on 6 August.

Recorded for Pop Go The Beatles, this first BBC version was released in 1994 on the Live At The BBC collection. Also recorded for the show were versions of ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)’, ‘Crying, Waiting, Hoping’, ‘To Know Her Is To Love Her’, ‘The Honeymoon Song’, and ‘Twist And Shout’.

A second BBC radio recording of ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!’ was made on 1 May 1964 for From Us To You.

The show was first broadcast on 18 May, and also included versions of ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘I Forgot To Remember To Forget’, ‘You Can’t Do That’, ‘Sure To Fall (In Love With You)’, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘Matchbox’, and ‘Honey Don’t’ with John Lennon on lead vocals.

The Beatles recorded a third BBC version of ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!’ on 17 July 1964, for the 3 August edition of From Us To You. The show also featured ‘Long Tall Sally’, ‘If I Fell’, ‘I’m Happy Just To Dance With You’, ‘Things We Said Today’, ‘I Should Have Know Better’, ‘Boys’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, and the From Us To You theme song.

The fourth and final BBC recording of ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!’ was made for Saturday Club on 25 November 1964, and was first heard by listeners on 26 December. It was included on the 2013 album On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2.

The version of ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!’ was one of the show’s two new recordings, the other being ‘Rock And Roll Music’. The episode featured four other Beatles recordings – ‘I’m A Loser’, ‘Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby’, ‘I Feel Fine’, and ‘She’s A Woman’ – made for Top Gear on 17 November 1964.

Lyrics

Ah, Kansas city
Gonna get my baby back home, yeah, yeah
I’m going to Kansas City
Gonna get my baby back home, yeah, yeah
Well, it’s a long, long time since
My baby’s been gone

Ah, Kansas City
Gonna get my baby one time, a-yeah, yeah
I’m going to Kansas City
Get my baby one time, yeah, yeah
It’s just a-one, two, three, four
Five, six, seven, eight, nine

Hey hey hey hey (hey hey hey hey)
Hey, baby (hey, baby)
Ooh, now girl (well, girl)
I said, yeah, now, pal (well, pal)
Now, now, now, now, tell me baby
What’s been wrong with you?

Hey hey hey hey (hey hey hey hey)
Hey, baby (hey, baby)
Ooh, now girl (well, girl)
I said, yeah, now, pal (well, pal)
Now, now, now, now, tell me baby
What’s been wrong with you?

Well, I said bye (bye bye, bye bye, bye bye)
Bye bye, baby, bye bye (bye bye, bye bye, bye bye)
Whoo, so long (so long, so long, so long)
Bye bye, baby, I’m gone (bye bye, bye bye, bye bye)
Yeah, I said bye bye, baby
Bye, bye, bye, bye

Bye now, bye (bye bye, bye bye, bye bye)
Bye now, baby, bye bye (bye bye, bye bye)