In short, “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey” is a Beatles’ medley which is on their “Beatles For Sale” album. However, there is an alternate version on their Anthology 1 album. Then there are some live takes on their BBC albums.
Recorded: 18th October, 1964
Genre: Rock and roll
Track Duration: 2:33 (mono version), 2:38 (stereo version)
Record Label: Parlophone
Songwriter: Kansas City – Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller; Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey – Richard Wayne Penniman (Little Richard)
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
This Beatles’ medley obviously joins together two songs and the Fab Four do a fine job in the process.
Little Willie Littlefield first recorded the rhythm and blues song, “Kansas City”, in 1952. However, in 1959, Wilbert Harrison released it as a single which went to number one in America’s Billboard charts. Many other artists would record the song, in fact, over 300 to date!
Little Richard recorded “Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey” aka “Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! (Goin’ Back to Birmingham)” on the 9th May, 1956. Indeed, this was the B-side to “Good Golly Miss Molly” which went to number 4 in the American charts.
Beatles And Little Richard
During their early live performances, The Beatles would often sing cover songs. Moreover, the Fab Four were masters at recreating the rock and roll songs coming over from the United States. The band would use many of these songs for their gigs at the Cavern Club and while in Hamburg too.
“I could do Little Richard’s voice, which is a wild, hoarse, screaming thing; it’s like an out-of-body experience. You have to leave your current sensibilities and go about a foot above your head to sing it. You have to actually go outside yourself. It’s a funny little trick and when you find it, it’s very interesting.”
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
The Beatles played with Little Richard twice while he was in the UK during October, 1962. They also shared the stage with him in Hamburg’s Star-Club too.
After hearing Little Richard perform the medley, The Beatles took it and gave it their own style. It was to be a part of their live repertoire, if only for a short while having dropped it by the end of 1963. However, they would come back to it from time to time. For example, they played it at the Municipal Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri on the 17th September, 1964.
Because they received a rousing reception from the appreciative American audience, The Beatles knew it should be on their next album, “Beatles For Sale”.
The Beatles began recording “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey” proper on the 18th October, 1964, in Studio Two at the EMI Studios, London, during the 2.30pm-11.30pm session. They recorded two takes that day when they also recorded “I Feel Fine” together with “I’ll Follow the Sun” and a few more tracks.
The first take was the version that was suitable for the album, “With The Beatles”, however, they recorded many other versions.
On their 1994 album, “Live At The BBC” there is a copy of the version which aired on the 6th August, 1963 on their “Pop Go the Beatles” show. Meanwhile on the 1995 album, “Anthology 1” there is the stereo take two version from their studio recording on the 18th October, 1964.
The Beatles also have another version on their 2013 album, “On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2”. The band recorded this one for the “Saturday Club” on the 25th November, 1964, airing on the 26th December that year. There were numerous other times that the Fab Four would sing and record this song.
Interestingly, there is a recording of The Beatles singing “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey” at the Cavern Club and Hamburg’s Star Club, but as yet, those are not commercially available.