Live At The BBC album artworkWritten by: Chuck Berry
Recorded: 10 July 1963
Producer: Terry Henebery

Released: 30 November 1994 (UK), 5 December 1994 (US)

Available on:
Live At The BBC

Personnel

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

Although a part of The Beatles’ live show for some time, they only recorded Chuck Berry’s ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ twice – for BBC radio shows.

Chuck Berry first released the song as a single in January 1958. Like the majority of Berry’s songs performed by The Beatles, John Lennon took lead vocals.

We might change the programme for the Olympia tomorrow, and put in some of the early rock numbers we used to do in Hamburg and at the Cavern – like ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ and things. Easy.
John Lennon, 1964
Anthology

The Beatles recorded ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ on two occasions for BBC radio’s Pop Go The Beatles, within days of each other.

The first edition was recorded on 2 July 1963, with the show aired on 16 July. The Beatles also taped versions of ‘That’s All Right (Mama)’, ‘There’s A Place’, ‘Carol’, ‘Soldier Of Love’, ‘Lend Me Your Comb’, ‘Clarabella’, ‘Three Cool Cats’, and ‘Ask Me Why’. These versions of ‘Three Cool Cats’, ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’, and ‘Ask Me Why’ were not broadcast at the time

The Beatles performed ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ again on 10 July 1963, for the sixth edition of the Pop Go The Beatles. It was recorded at the Aeolian Hall, London, and first broadcast on 23 July, and was included on 1994’s Live At The BBC.

The other songs recorded for that edition were ‘A Taste Of Honey’, ‘Nothin’ Shakin’’, ‘Love Me Do’, ‘Lonesome Tears In My Eyes’, and ‘So How Come (No One Loves Me)’.

An earlier version of ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’, captured at the Star-Club in Hamburg in December 1962, also exists on Beatles bootlegs.

Lyrics

They’re really rockin’ in Boston
Philadelphia, PA
Deep in the heart of Texas
And down in Frisco Bay
All over St Louis
And down in New Orleans
All the cats wanna dance with
Sweet little sixteen

Sweet little sixteen
She’s just got to have
About half a million
Framed autographs
Her wallet filled with pictures
She gets them one by one
Becomes so excited
Watch her, look at her run

Oh Mommy, Mommy
Please may I go
It’s such a sight to see
Somebody steal the show
Oh Daddy, Daddy
I beg of you
Whisper to Mommy
It’s alright with you

Sweet little sixteen
She got the grown up blues
Tight dresses and lipstick
She’s sporting high heel shoes
Oh but tomorrow morning
She’ll have to change her trend
Become sweet sixteen
And back in class again

Yeah ’cause they’ll be rockin’ in Boston
Philadelphia, PA
Deep in the heart of Texas
And down in Frisco Bay
All over St Louis
And down in New Orleans
All the cats wanna dance with
Sweet little sixteen