My Bonnie, The Beatles’ first commercially-released record, featured English singer Tony Sheridan on lead vocals and was recorded in Hamburg in 1961.

Written by:
Trad. arr. Tony Sheridan
Recorded: 22/23 June 1961
Producer: Bert Kaempfert
Engineer: Karl Hinze

Released: 21 November 1995

Tony Sheridan: vocals, lead guitar
John Lennon: backing vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney: backing vocals, bass
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar
Pete Best: drums

Available on:
Anthology 1

The Beatles had performed with Sheridan at the Top Ten club in Hamburg. They came to the attention of German bandleader Bert Kaempfert, who suggested that they record some songs together.

The recording took place on a converted stage at Hamburg’s Friedrich-Ebert-Halle school, during a two-day session on 22-23 June 1961. The group were the backing band for Sheridan, who took lead vocals, and together they recorded My Bonnie and The Saints, the latter a rocked-up version of When The Saints Go Marching In.

It’s just Tony Sheridan singing, with us banging in the background. It’s terrible. It could be anybody.
John Lennon, 1963

My Bonnie had been chosen because of its popularity with Hamburg’s sailors; it was part of The Beatles’ live set for the same reason. The Love Me Tender-style introduction was sung by Sheridan in the song’s traditional waltz arrangement, before a tempo- and key-change took the song into the realm of rock ‘n’ roll.

Harrison performed lead guitar on the recording, although Sheridan played the solo, which was later spliced in from a different take. Two edit pieces were also taped for the introduction, in English and German – the translation was by Bernd Bertie.

Following the recording, the group – minus Sheridan – recorded two songs of their own choosing: Ain’t She Sweetand Cry For A Shadow.

My Bonnie was released as a single, with The Saints, on the b-side, in October 1961. Credited to Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers, it reached number five in the German singles chart. It was released in Britain on 5 January 1962, as Tony Sheridan and The Beatles.

We did a recording with Tony Sheridan, My Bonnie, for Bert Kaempfert, a band leader and producer. It was actually ‘Tony Sheridan und die Beat Brothers’. They didn’t like our name and said, ‘Change to The Beat Brothers; this is more understandable for the German audience.’ We went along with it – it was a record.
Paul McCartney

In addition to being The Beatles’ first commercially-released disc, My Bonnie played a more pivotal role in their fortunes: it brought them to the attention to Liverpool record shop owner Brian Epstein. A local fan named Raymond Jones is said to have requested the song in his NEMS store, setting events in motion which led to Epstein becoming The Beatles’ manager.

A kid had gone into Brian’s record store and asked for My Bonnie by The Beatles. Brian had said, ‘No it’s not, it’s by Tony Sheridan,’ and he ordered it. Then Brian heard that we were playing 200 yards away. So he came to the Cavern and the news got to us: ‘Brian Epstein is in the audience – he might be a manager or a promoter. He is a grown-up, anyway.’ It was Us and Grown-ups then.
Paul McCartney