‘Swanee River’ was one of two songs recorded by The Beatles as the backing band for singer Tony Sheridan on 24 May 1962.

The session took place at Studio Rahlstedt in the Wandsbek district of Hamburg. It was produced by Bert Kaempfert, who had recorded a number of songs with The Beatles the previous year, including ‘My Bonnie’ and ‘The Saints’.

This time they recorded two American standards: ‘Swanee River’ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’. The Beatles were being used as Sheridan’s backing band, though he wasn’t at the session: his vocals were overdubbed on 7 June, two weeks later.

The reason for the session is unclear, since Sheridan had already recorded them for his My Bonnie album, which had recently been released. It has been suggested that the new recordings were to have been issued as a 7″ single, but the tape of ‘Swanee River’ was lost and has never been recovered. Another version featuring Sheridan was later released with a different set of musicians accompanying.

‘Swanee River’, also known as ‘Old Folks At Home’, was an old American standard. It dates from 1851, and is the official state song of Florida.

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