“Nothing affected me until I heard Elvis. Without Elvis, there would be no Beatles.” – John Lennon
In the summer of 1963, The Beatles arrived at the BBC Paris Studio in London armed with a very special plan to add their own spin on an Elvis Presley classic. While their paths didn’t cross so often, The Beatles have never been shy to show their admiration for The King: “There was an advert for ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. Elvis looked so great: ‘That’s him, that’s him – the Messiah has arrived!'” Paul McCartney once said.
Detailing further, The Beatles bassist added: “Then when we heard the song, there was the proof. That was followed by his first album, which I still love the best of all his records. It was so fantastic we played it endlessly and tried to learn it all. Everything we did was based on that album.”
The Beatles famously took the creations of those that came before them as a major inspiration, adding their own flavour to create what was soon to become Beatlemania. Lennon once professed: “When I heard [Heartbreak Hotel], it was the end for me. […] Once I heard it and got into it, that was life, there was no other thing. I thought of nothing else but rock ‘n’ roll.”
Recording material with producer Terry Henebery for the eighth edition of the Pop Go The Beatles radio show, the four lads from Liverpool would lay down a rendition of ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)’, one of three Elvis songs they put to tape that day.
While Ringo Starr has always professed his distaste for drum solos, he would step up to the mark for The Beatles’ rockabilly version of the song, which remained unreleased until 1994 when it was included on the Live at the BBC album.
The song, which was originally written by Joe Thomas and Howard Biggs in 1953, was made popular by Elvis when it appeared on his self-titled debut album in 1956. Following the Elvis rendition, The Beatles began using their version of the song on numerous different tour dates in 1962 before finally taking it into the recording studio a year later.
The Beatles also famously performed the song at the Star Club in Hamburg on New Year’s Eve back in 1962—a performance which came during their fifth and final Hamburg residency.
Below, enjoy the recorded version for Pop Go The Beatles.