“Rock And Roll Music” is a cover song by the Fab Four from their album “Beatles For Sale”. Originally sung by Chuck Berry, The Beatles would often sing this song on stage as part of their live repertoire right through until they finished touring.
Recorded: 18th October, 1964
Genre: Rock and roll
Track Duration: 2:30
Record Label: Parlophone (UK)
Songwriter: Chuck Berry
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
Rock And Roll Music
In the Autumn of 1957, Chuck Berry took “Rock And Roll Music” into the American charts where it peaked at number eight in the Billboard Hot 100. The Beatles were great fans of Chuck Berry, so the Fab Four began to sing it while gigging. Indeed, they covered more Chuck Berry songs than from any other artist.
The Beatles would often sing cover songs in their early days when they had the name of The Quarrymen.
In late 1964, The Beatles were running short of original material. This is because the non-stop touring and extensive recording duties took it’s toll. This meant that they needed to rely on some old rock and R&B for their next album, “Beatles For Sale”. Of course “Rock And Roll Music” fitted the bill perfectly.
The Beatles started recording “Rock And Roll Music” on the 18th October, 1964, in Studio Two at the EMI Studios in London during the 2.30pm-11.30pm session. The band were obviously familiar with the song having performed it so many times, only one take was necessary.
We simply don’t know whether overdubbing began during these sessions, if any, because there is a slight disagreement about the piano playing. The notes on “Beatles For Sale” say “George Martin joins John and Paul on one piano” which suggests an overdub occurred. On the other hand, Mark Lewisohn says in the 1988 book, “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions”, “all The Beatles on their familiar instruments” and Martin on piano, suggesting that there was no overdubbing.
In the early 1960’s, The Beatles would record shows for BBC Radio and they recorded the song for many of those programmes. Indeed, they sang it for the BBC’s Saturday Club which broadcast on the 26th December, 1964. They recorded that particular show the 25th November, 1964, and that version appears on the 1994 album, “Live At The BBC”. That album also has many alternative cover versions of Chuck Berry’s songs from the Fab Four.
There is another Beatles’ version of this song on their 1996 album, Anthology 2. This is a live recording from the Nippon Budokan Hall, Tokyo, Japan on the 30th June, 1966.