‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ was one of two songs recorded by The Beatles for singer Tony Sheridan on 24 May 1962.

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

This time they taped two American standards: ‘Swanee River’ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’. Sheridan didn’t attend the session; his vocals were overdubbed two weeks later on 7 June.

Paul McCartney was given an arranger’s credit for ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ in documentation by the Deutsche Grammaphon label, perhaps due to his backing vocals contribution. Also performing with The Beatles on the day was pianist Roy Young, who had been informally accompanying with the group at the Star-Club.

It is not known why the session took place, since Sheridan had already released the songs on his My Bonnie album. The new recordings may have been intended as a 7″ single, but the tape of ‘Swanee River’ was lost and has never been recovered. ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ was issued on an EP, Ya Ya, in West Germany and a single in Greece. Both were credited to Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers.

Sheridan re-recorded the vocals to ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ on 3 January 1964, prior to The Beatles’ arrival in America. The newer version included novelty lyrics that mentioned the group. Sheridan had previously sung:

Fellas that she can’t get
Are fellas she can’t get
Georgia claimed her, Georgia named her
Sweet Georgia Brown

That became:

In Liverpool she even dared
To criticise The Beatles’ hair
With their whole fan club standing there
Ah, meet Sweet Georgia Brown

‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ was written in 1925, with music by bandleader Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard, and lyrics by Kenneth Casey. It was first recorded on 19 March that year by Ben Bernie and his Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra, and spent five weeks at the top of the charts. It became an American standard, and was subsequently adopted as the theme music of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.

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