My Bonnie

Anthology 1 album artworkWritten by: Trad. arr. Tony Sheridan
Recorded: 22/23 June 1961
Producer: Bert Kaempfert
Engineer: Karl Hinze

Released: 21 November 1995

Tony Sheridan: vocals, lead guitar
John Lennon: backing vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney: backing vocals, bass
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar
Pete Best: drums

Available on:
Anthology 1

My Bonnie, The Beatles' first commercially-released record, featured English singer Tony Sheridan on lead vocals and was recorded in Hamburg in 1961.

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The Beatles had performed with Sheridan at the Top Ten club in Hamburg. They came to the attention of German bandleader Bert Kaempfert, who suggested that they record some songs together.

The recording took place on a converted stage at Hamburg's Friedrich-Ebert-Halle school, during a two-day session on 22-23 June 1961. The group were the backing band for Sheridan, who took lead vocals, and together they recorded My Bonnie and The Saints, the latter a rocked-up version of When The Saints Go Marching In.

It's just Tony Sheridan singing, with us banging in the background. It's terrible. It could be anybody.
John Lennon, 1963

My Bonnie had been chosen because of its popularity with Hamburg's sailors; it was part of The Beatles' live set for the same reason. The Love Me Tender-style introduction was sung by Sheridan in the song's traditional waltz arrangement, before a tempo- and key-change took the song into the realm of rock 'n' roll.

Harrison performed lead guitar on the recording, although Sheridan played the solo, which was later spliced in from a different take. Two edit pieces were also taped for the introduction, in English and German - the translation was by Bernd Bertie.

Following the recording, the group - minus Sheridan - recorded two songs of their own choosing: Ain't She Sweet and Cry For A Shadow.

My Bonnie was released as a single, with The Saints, on the b-side, in October 1961. Credited to Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers, it reached number five in the German singles chart. It was released in Britain on 5 January 1962, as Tony Sheridan and The Beatles.

We did a recording with Tony Sheridan, My Bonnie, for Bert Kaempfert, a band leader and producer. It was actually 'Tony Sheridan und die Beat Brothers'. They didn't like our name and said, 'Change to The Beat Brothers; this is more understandable for the German audience.' We went along with it - it was a record.
Paul McCartney

In addition to being The Beatles' first commercially-released disc, My Bonnie played a more pivotal role in their fortunes: it brought them to the attention to Liverpool record shop owner Brian Epstein. A local fan named Raymond Jones is said to have requested the song in his NEMS store, setting events in motion which led to Epstein becoming The Beatles' manager.

A kid had gone into Brian's record store and asked for My Bonnie by The Beatles. Brian had said, 'No it's not, it's by Tony Sheridan,' and he ordered it. Then Brian heard that we were playing 200 yards away. So he came to the Cavern and the news got to us: 'Brian Epstein is in the audience - he might be a manager or a promoter. He is a grown-up, anyway.' It was Us and Grown-ups then.
Paul McCartney


My Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the sea
My Bonnie lies over the ocean
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me

My Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the sea
My Bonnie lies over the ocean
Yeah, bring back my Bonnie to me

Yeah, bring back, ah bring back
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me, to me
Oh bring back, ah bring back
Bring back my Bonnie to me

Well, my Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the sea
Yeah, my Bonnie lies over the ocean
Whoa, I said bring back my Bonnie to me

Yeah, bring back now, ah bring back
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me, to me
Oh bring back, ah bring back
Bring back my Bonnie to me

18 responses on “My Bonnie

    1. JPM-Fangirl

      Well, you can actually hear Paul quite well. He does the high harmonies. I have no idea who sings the bass vocal, though. Doesn’t sound like John or George, and I’m quite certain it isn’t Paul either, though he has sung that low on other songs and when he did, his voice became nearly unrecognisable. Anyway, John can be heard a bit in the screams, but I don’t hear George’s voice anywhere. The only Beatle you can really make out is Paul. Their playing style is quite distinct, though, so at least that’s easier to identify.

    1. Joe Post author

      It’s one or the other on the solo, though I think it’s probably Tony Sheridan. The flourishes at the start are said to be Harrison. There are some little fills later on in the song which I presume are Harrison too. Anyone else know for sure?

      1. Colin

        The fills are by Harrison in the main , but the solo is Sheridan . At that time there was no way that the young George could have played that powerfull a solo , complete with jazz touches . The same way that he couldn’t be playing ” Cry For A Shadow ” either , which obviously has 2 lead guitars plus Lennon on rythm .

  1. David Stardust

    In the Mayles Brothers doco that resurfaced in the new Millenium on DVD and was shown to cinema students the world over as an embryionic example of ‘fly on the wall’ docos; there is a sequence in which George is speaking to a BBC interviewer on air via phone from their NY suite, and he reels off all the Beatles singles that are zooming up the charts, and he says at one point ‘and ‘My Bonnie’ which is a laff’, presumably as it was re-released hastily and in a very timely fashion to capitalise on the initial US Beatle-mania,meaning that your rundown here is missing the fact that this record charted VERY well indeed, probably making Sheridan rich(ish).

  2. David

    I’m not very well up on bootlegs and so on, so can anybody help me out with a bit of background information on the 47-track album called “The Beatles: Early Recordings 1961-1962”? The recordings seem to be quite a hotchpotch: Love Me Do and PS I Love You; the Tony Sheridan recordings (including the horrible “Beatles’ hair” version of Sweet Georgia Brown) plus Ain’t She Sweet and Cry For a Shadow; and lots of poorly recorded versions of covers from the first two albums (A Taste of Honey, Money, Roll Over Beethoven, etc.), a few other standards and two or three Lennon & McCartney songs, such as Ask Me Why and I Saw Her Standing There.

    Do those of you who are more in the know than me have any views on this compilation? Is it worth a few quid of my hard-earned cash, or is it just a rip-off?

    1. The man with the foolish grin

      Oddly this showed up on iTunes (in France) a few days ago. I took a couple of days to get round to downloading it… and yesterday it simply disappeared. Very odd…

  3. Pepperland

    To me it sounds like Tony Sheridan singing lead with guitar solo, Paul on high harmony and bass, John on low harmony, George not singing and the lead guitar part and Pete on drums. And it also sounds like overdubbed handclaps to me.

    1. Allan Parr

      As a Beatle fan and Cavern Club member
      I bought this record in 1961 after seeing them at the Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, where I lived, and that is definitely the Beatles.
      The screaming and shouting at the end is pure Beatles, typical of their live performances.

  4. Jeff

    Bongo, unless you have an extra $15,000 lying around 😉 this is, in fact, not something you could buy as a Beatle collector!

    With the possible exception of the Vee-Jay “Anna/Ask Me Why”, “My Bonnie” is the most valuable single ever released

  5. Jeff

    When the agreement was made for The Beatles to record with Tony/Bert, Stu was still the bass player. The recording session occurred in June 1961 and Stu officially left the next month. So, had The Beatles already unofficially moved on? Most sources say that, while Stu attended the recording session, Paul is on bass. That said, is Paul playing Stu’s right handed bass upside down or had Paul already saved up to secure his Hoffner?

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