Friday, 22 October 2010

Lennon's first published song

"Mister Twist" EP, France
A radio show here in Norway recently had a competition where one could win the new John Lennon Signature box as a prize. But first you had to answer some questions, one of which was "Which song was the first John Lennon co-composition to be released on a record, and who did he compose it with?"
That seemed pretty straight forward at first sight. "Love Me Do" which Paul McCartney wrote back in 1958-59 with a little help from Lennon came to mind. Recorded on September 4th (Ringo version) and released a month later, October 5th, 1962. Sure, Lennon was also involved in "Cry For A Shadow" helping out George Harrison way earlier, it was recorded on June 22nd, 1961 but wasn't released until 1964.... or was it? Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that in France, the Tony Sheridan EP "Mister Twist", released as early as April 1962 - several months earlier than "Love Me Do" - contained that early Beatles instrumental. The Beatles weren't mentioned, neither on the cover nor on the label, but the writers are identified as G. Horrison (sic) and J. Lennon.


There was one other record which was also involved. On Saturday 21 May 1960 while on tour with the Silver Beatles, Johnny Gentle - real name John Askew - worked on a song he was writing called "I've Just Fallen For Someone". John Lennon helped out on the middle eight, contributing four lines:

We know that we'll get by
Just wait and see
Just like the song tells us
The best things in life are free

The song was later recorded by Askew, under his new stage name Darren Young. It was released as the b-side of the single "My Tears Will Turn To Laughter", on the Parlophone label with the catalogue number R 4919 in August 1962. The song failed to chart, and didn't include a credit for Lennon. But according to Askew it was co-composed with the Beatle, and as it was released before "Love Me Do", it could have been a contender, had it not been for the existence of the French "Mister Twist" EP.

And that was that. But then I was reading a passage in Kristofer Engelhardt's excellent The Beatles Deeper Undercover which gave me another answer. Askew had given the song away to another artist to record it before he recorded his own version! "I’ve Just Fallen For Someone" (Askew/uncredited Lennon) was released by Adam Faith on his self-titled LP in the UK with the catalogue number Parlophone PMC 1162. And it was either released in early 1962 or late 1961, Engelhardt wasn't sure, other internet sites mention just 1961. But then I found this discography, which said the LP was released on the 24th of March, 1962. One month earlier than the "Mister Twist" EP! But then, I happened to read up on that one. And I discovered that Eric Krasker meanwhile had established that the "Mister Twist" EP must have been released earlier than previously thought. A copy of the EP was officially given to the "Bibliothèque nationale de France" on January 26th, 1962, and the receival date was stamped on the record's back. So that was the final word. Or so I thought, when I suddenly discovered this site, which said that Adam Faith's LP PMC 1162 (mono) and PCS 3025 (stereo) was released in 1961. So if you want to believe John Askew, here's the album to look for:

Adam Faith by Adam Faith with a Lennon co-composition (maybe) . Released in '61 (maybe)
 At least it's a lot cheaper than the original pressing of the "Mister Twist" EP. Last time I saw the Adam Faith mono LP at "buy it now" on ebay it was £7.99, while an original "Mister Twist" will set you back between £200-£300. If £7.99 is too much, there's always YouTube. We've established one thing by this excercise: Don't ask a Beatles related question unless you are absolutely sure about the answer! Or else you'll end up annoying the archeologists.

3 comments:

. said...

Fascinating !!
(Thanks for your e-mail ! I'll come back to you at some stage during your week-end)

Talanca said...

That same EP (Mr. Twist) was also released back in early 1962 in Spain and Argentina.
Cheers, M.

Wogew said...

I got the "Adaim Faith" mono LP in the mail today and the liner notes on the back certainly bears the legend "Recording first published in 1961". So if Johnny Gentle's story is correct this is indeed John Lennon's first published co-composition.