“Roll Over Beethoven” is a cover song that The Fab Four sang on their album “With The Beatles”. Of course, in their early days, The Beatles were great fans of the old rock and roll songs. So much so, that they would sing them regularly on their gigging circuit. Indeed, their influence came from the likes of Chuck Berry who wrote the song.
Recorded: 30th July, 1963
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Genre: Rock and roll
Track Duration: 2:48
Record Label: Parlophone (UK), Capitol (US)
Songwriter: Chuck Berry
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
Roll Over Beethoven
Singer and songwriter Chuck Berry had a hit with “Roll Over Beethoven” in 1956. But, The Beatles were Chuck Berry fans and began to sing the song themselves. Obviously, they covered a lot of songs by many different artists just like all the up-and-coming bands of the day. However, The Beatles sang more Chuck Berry songs than from any other artist.
John Lennon once remarked, “If they want things like [Long Tall] Sally and [Roll Over] Beethoven, we can do that standing on our ears.” Obviously, Lennon was a massive fan and would sing most of the Chuck Berry covers. Indeed, he even sang “Roll Over Beethoven” until around 1961 when George Harrison grabbed it by the throat and took over lead vocals.
“I sang Roll Over Beethoven for With The Beatles – it was a song I liked. I had the Chuck Berry record and I used to sing it in the clubs.”
The Beatles began recording “Roll Over Beethoven” on the 30th July, 1963 in Studio Two at the EMI Studios in London during the 5.00pm-11.00pm session. On this day, there were five takes with the last one being suitable for the rhythm track. Overdubbing began immediately, however, further editing to the end guitar riff occurred on the 21st August, 1963.
Such was The Beatles attraction to this song, they recorded it a further seven times for the BBC for shows such as “The Saturday Club”.
Their 2013 “On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2” album has the version from the BBC’s “Pop Go The Beatles” radio show from the 3rd September, 1963.
On their 1994 “Live At The BBC” album is a version from the “From Us to You” radio show (30th March, 1964). The band recorded that version at the Playhouse Theatre in London on the 28th February, 1964. Furthermore, this version is in the Superman III movie. Richard Lester was the director then and it was he that directed A Hard Day’s Night and Help!
Finally, there is a version of The Beatles’ “Roll Over Beethoven” on their 1995 album, Anthology 1. This is a live version for “The Beatles, Pop Group from Liverpool Visiting Stockholm” show at the The Karlaplansstudion.