“Matchbox” is a Carl Perkins’ song which The Beatles covered in 1964. Moreover, it comes from their “Long Tall Sally” EP. However, it is also available on their “Past Masters” album as well as “Live At The BBC”.
Recorded: 1st June, 1964
Genre: Rock and roll, rockabilly
Track Duration: 1:57 (label on both singles and albums say 1:37 which is wrong)
Record Label: Parlophone (UK) Capitol (US)
Songwriter: Carl Perkins
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
In 1927, Blind Lemon Jefferson wrote “Match Box Blues” which has lyrics close to this Carl Perkins’ song. However, musically the songs are different.
Carl Perkins recorded “Matchbox” in December, 1956, as the B-side to “Your True Love” which gave him minor chart success in 1957.
While The Beatles were gigging in their early days they would also sing this song too as part of their live repertoire.
Prior to Ringo Starr joining the group, Pete Best would sing solo on this song. John Lennon then took over the lead vocals onstage once the band had their new drummer. However, Ringo Starr sang on the commercially available recording.
The Beatles began recording “Matchbox” on the 1st June, 1964, in Studio Two of the EMI Studios, London during the 2.30pm-5.30pm session. All in all, they recorded five takes with the last one of those being suitable for commercial release on the “Long Tall Sally” EP.
While The Beatles were in the Abbey Road studios recording the song, the original singer, Carl Perkins, dropped in. Perkins was on a UK tour at the time and took advantage of his invite to observe the Fab Four recording.
Ringo Starr sang the song while playing the drums at the same time. But, he said he felt “very embarrassed” while the American guest called in. This is because the drummer had a bad throat on the day. In fact, just two days later he was in hospital with acute tonsillitis and pharyngitis. Due to his illness, Starr missed the start of the Beatles’ world tour.
The Beatles also recorded “Matchbox” for the BBC Radio show, “Pop Go The Beatles”, which aired on the 30th July, 1963. This version is obviously on their 1994 album, “Live At The BBC”.