Weren’t The Beatles supposed to end the era of Bobbies, Tommies and Billies?

They say a lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same spot. Don’t know if that’s true but Brian Epstein certainly thought he could duplicate the success of Billy J Kramer. Take one pretty boy (Tommy Quickly), team him up with a better than average beat combo (The Remo Four), lock them inside the EMI studios with producer George Martin and a Lennon/McCartney song and you have a – flop. You see the only faults in this theory were that a) Quickly was even worse a singer than Kramer and b) the song he was given was “Tip Of My Tongue” has often been described as “the worst song Lennon/McCartney ever wrote.” (The Beatles had wanted to record the number at the tail end of the “Please Please Me” sessions but George Martin tactfully suggested they should work out a new arrangement and the song was never brought up again.)

That’s not to say the record is without it’s charms. It sounds rather like amphetamin fuelled Herman’s Hermits on helium, trying to frantically rewrite “Please Please Me.” Which is nice.

Quickly was to have some minor top 40 success later with “The Wild Side Of Life”. He was also given another Lennon/McCartney exclusive with “No Reply” with both John and Paul contributing to the recording but sadly the record was never issued, The Beatles recording the number themselves.
Two more invaluable pieces of trivia:
1) The Remo Four had been asked to become Billy J Kramer’s band but they declined
2) Later on they performed most of the “western music” on the George Harrison soundtrack album “Wonderwall Music”.

“Tip of My Tongue” is available on the “Beat Beat Beat vol. 1” CD discussed below.


Billy J Kramer was much luckier. The success of his debut single meant that he was given two more Lennon/McCartney numbers for the follow up. The top side “Bad To Me” was special in that was specifically written for another artist by John Lennon (probably the only such occurenc during his entire career!) It’s also darn near a classic and it’s a shame The Beatles never recorded this number (John & Paul’s acoustic demo circulates among collectors though.) The B side was an old Lennon number entitled “I Call Your Name”, which gained a new middle eight for the occasion. The results were equally brilliant (listen out for another impressive instrumental break!) so when The Beatles decided a year later to record ther number themselves they effectively borrowed the Dakotas’ arrangement (“Cos it’s our song anyroad, innit?”)

“Bad To Me” bettered the chart position of it’s precursor, making the top spot of the UK charts in August 1963.

Both songs are widely available on compilations such as “Billy J Kramer At The Abbey Road 1963-1966”


Published in: on June 4, 2007 at 2:08 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. In that picture with George, John, and Mick – you don’t know who the guy standing next to John is, do you?
    My initial thought was Wayne Fontana. But I don’t think that’s right.

  2. I have no idea who he is or where or when the pic was taken. I can’t even remember any more where I found it.

    He does look a lot like Wayne Fontana though!

  3. All these lost songs have received the proper treatment by Apple Jam from Seattle on their 2009 CD Off the Beatle Track. Their European CD release party was held in Liverpool at the Philharmonic during Beatle Week.

    “Off the Beatle Track is evocative of the thrill and fascination one experienced all those years ago when a new Beatles record came out” – Duncan Du Bois, The Witness (South Africa)

    Song samples can be heard at

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