The Beatles recorded five versions of Chuck Berry’s ‘Memphis, Tennessee’ for BBC radio, one of which – from July 1963 – was included on the Live At The BBC collection.

Berry released the song in 1959, on the b-side of the ‘Back In The USA’ single. It became a part of The Beatles’ live repertoire shortly afterwards, with John Lennon on vocals.

The Beatles first recorded ‘Memphis, Tennessee’ at their audition for Decca Records on 1 January 1962, with Pete Best on drums.

Best also appeared on a version recorded at The Beatles’ very first BBC radio appearance. It was recorded live for the Teenager’s Turn programme on 7 March 1962 at Manchester’s Playhouse Theatre, and broadcast the following day. Prior to the appearance they had auditioned for BBC producer Peter Pilbeam on 12 February, during which they also played the song.

Chuck Berry was another massive influence… We’d go up to John’s bedroom with his little record player and listen to Chuck Berry records, trying to learn them. I remember learning ‘Memphis, Tennessee’ up there.

The group’s second BBC version was taped on 1 June 1963, at the BBC Paris Studio, London. It was for the third edition of the Pop Go The Beatles programme, which was broadcast on 18 June.

They performed it again on 24 June, for the Saturday Club radio show. It was recorded at the Playhouse Theatre in London, and first transmitted on 29 June.

The version of ‘Memphis, Tennessee’ included on 1994’s Live At The BBC collection was taped on 10 July 1963 at the Aeolian Hall, London. The performance was for the seventh Pop Go The Beatles show, which was broadcast on 30 July.

The fifth and final BBC recording of the song was made on 7 September 1963. Like the third version, it was performed at the Playhouse Theatre for the Saturday Club programme, which was first heard on 5 October. It was released on 2013’s On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2.


Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee
Try to find the party trying to get in touch with me
She would not leave her number but I know who placed the call
’cause my uncle took the message and he wrote it on the wall

Help me, information, get in touch with my Marie
She’s the only one who’d phone me here from Memphis, Tennessee
Her home is on the south side, just beyond the ridge
Just a half a mile from the Mississippi Bridge

Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
Only that I miss her, and all the fun we had
We were pulled apart because her mum would not agree
Help me get in touch with her in Memphis, Tennessee

The last time I saw Marie she was waving me goodbye
With hurry home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
Marie is only six years old, information please
Help me get in touch with her in Memphis, Tennessee

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