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Music

The Beatles cover inspired by crate-digging for vinyl

@TylerGolsen

Before he was a music manager, Brian Epstein was in charge of the NEMS music shop in Liverpool. Through some savvy business dealings and a keen eye for what was popular at the time, Epstein made NEMS the go-to record shop in Northern England.

Eventually, Epstein moved on to talent management, but he didn’t give up the store until The Beatles hit it big. The band were regular customers as NEMS and could constantly be found digging through the store’s crates for American records. The LPs they found would end up influencing their sound, from Motown to Larry Williams.

One of the vinyl that The Beatles got their hands on was ‘Devil in His Heart’, the pop song from Detroit R&B girl group The Donays. While the group was obscure, The Beatles liked the song well enough to give it their own gender-bent rendition that was later released on With the Beatles.

“Brian had a policy of buying at least one copy of every record that was released,” George Harrison explained in the Anthology series. “If it sold, he’d order another one, or five or whatever. Consequently he had records that weren’t hits in Britain, weren’t even hits in America. Before going to a gig we’d meet in the record store, after it had shut, and we’d search the racks like ferrets to see what new ones were there… ‘Devil in Her Heart’ and Barrett Strong’s ‘Money’ were records that we’d picked up and played in the shop and thought were interesting.”

Harrison would take the lead on ‘Devil in Her Heart’ with harmonies from John Lennon and Paul McCartney. With a samba rhythm and an old-school feel, even for 1963, ‘Devil in Her Heart’ was a solid album track that never saw the light as anything more. Harrison managed to land his own self-written track on With the Beatles, ‘Don’t Bother Me’, which largely made ‘Devil in Her Heart’ a superfluous part of the band’s act. Still, the song saw occasional live plays in 1963, including one during the band’s appearance at the BBC in September of that year.

Check out the studio version of ‘Devil in Her Heart’ down below.