The Beatles Performing at the Cavern Club, 1962

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The Beatles at the Cavern Club, 1962 (Photo: Apple Corps Ltd.)

The Beatles at the Cavern Club, 1962 (Photo: Apple Corps Ltd.)

If you’ve seen Ron Howard’s 2016 Beatles documentary Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years, or just about any other documentary ever made on the Fab Four, you’ve seen the two-minute clip: the four young musicians, dressed in matching vests and ties, their hair combed forward in what would soon come to be known as the Beatle haircut, performing a song called “Some Other Guy.”

As the only existing footage of the Beatles at Liverpool’s fabled Cavern Club synced to live audio, it’s one of the most iconic moving images of the group—shot in grainy black and white, from a distance at first so we see the backs of the excited, dancing teens taking in the show during their lunch break.

Then, the camera zooms, and we see them in closeup. There’s already no mistaking them: though they may be playing in a dank, sweaty basement dive, this is the Beatles in the act of becoming the Beatles.

“Some Other Guy” was taped live at the Cavern on a Wednesday afternoon, August 22, 1962, to be exact. Under an arch at the far end of the basement venue at 10 Mathew Street, they launch into the uptempo number with an instrumental break similar in chord structure and tempo to Ray Charles’ hit “What’d I Say.” From left to right at the front, George, Paul and John bounce as they play while Ringo, head bobbing from side to side, keeps the beat behind them.

He had been the Beatles’ drummer for six days.

They play sans vocals for half a minute, then John and Paul sing in unison:

“Some other guy now, has taken my love away from me, oh now
Some other guy now, has taken away my sweet desire, oh now
Some other guy now, I just don’t wanna hold my hand, oh now
I’m the lonely one, as lonely as I can feel, all right.”

There is no chorus. It continues along at a driving pace with little variation and then it just ends. It’s not the Beatles’ finest moment by a long shot yet it has come to symbolize the raw power and electricity of the band before manager Brian Epstein cleaned up their look and George Martin their sound—and before John Lennon and Paul McCartney learned how to write timeless songs of their own.

Our Classic Video…

Related: Paul McCartney performed at the Cavern Club’s current location in July 2018

But what was “Some Other Guy” and why were they playing it that day? The song never appeared on an official Beatles single or album, yet it is instantly identifiable by anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the Beatles’ history. Its authorship is credited to Philadelphia-born R&B singer-songwriter Richie Barrett, then age 29—best known for discovering Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the Chantels and Little Anthony and the Imperials—and two of the most celebrated songwriters and producers of the early rock/R&B era, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

Listen to Richie Barrett’s original version of “Some Other Guy”

Barrett himself recorded the song under his own name for Atlantic Records in early 1962, releasing it that April in the United States and a month later in Britain. His recording flopped but was discovered by the Beatles, always on the lookout for new material other bands had not yet covered. They worked up an arrangement, transposing the piano-led lead melody to guitar, and began performing their version immediately. It was this peppy number that the Manchester-based Granada Television—tipped off to the buzz happening in Liverpool—chose to film for its Know the North program.

It was the first time the Beatles performed in front of TV cameras. The audio quality is abysmal, the video not much better, but there it is, our earliest glimpse of a soon-to-be phenomenon.

Related: BCB’s review of the Beatles documentary Eight Days a Week

Discerning listeners will notice that immediately following the final chord, as the rest of the audience cheers and applauds, a lone voice shouts out, “We want Pete!” But Pete Best, the band’s original drummer, would not return. Ringo was a keeper, and two months later, on October 11, 1962, the Beatles would debut on the British singles chart with “Love Me Do.”

You know the rest.

But wait, there’s more! A few weeks after the “Some Other Guy” taping, on September 9, 1962, a Granada sound technician, Gordon Butler, returned to the Cavern, where he audiotaped the Beatles performing “Some Other Guy” again, as well as “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey,” a medley that they would include on their Beatles for Sale album in the U.K. and Beatles VI in the U.S. Butler made a few acetate copies of the recording, which he gave to Brian Epstein and other Beatles associates, but the original tape ended up in a desk drawer. It was only just discovered in 2015.

“Some Other Guy” never became what you might call a rock and roll classic, but it did find its way to other artists. The Beatles’ fellow Liverpudlians the Searchers cut it for their debut album and the popular Manchester rockabilly band Johnny Kidd and the Pirates also made it a part of their set, recording the song in 1963. The great English guitarist-vocalist Dave Edmunds released his version as a single and Led Zeppelin reportedly stuck it into a live medley at least once.

The song’s primary author and original singer, Richie Barrett, died in 2006 at age 73.

Bonus: Listen to a parody of the Beatles’ “Some Other Guy” by the Rutles called “Goose Step Mama,” a song included in the 1978 “mockumentary” All You Need Is Cash.

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Jeff Tamarkin
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  1. Dan
    #1 Dan 3 October, 2016, 10:39

    I’d say that Epstein was well into cleaning up their look and Martin their sound, at that point.

    Reply this comment
  2. HonestE
    #2 HonestE 23 August, 2018, 05:24

    Liverpool group who record Some other guy was called the big three

    Reply this comment
  3. DWB
    #3 DWB 23 August, 2021, 00:06

    Great to read the whole story. Thanks, Jeff.

    Reply this comment

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