Without a doubt, no band's songs have been covered more than those written by The Beatles, and in all, there were 206 songs performed by The Fab Four that were written by one or more members of the group.
On the other hand -- especially early on, until John Lennon and Paul McCartney began writing most of the group's songs -- The Beatles covered more than 60 tunes by other artists, some of them for flip sides and some to fill out their early albums.
Such cover records were originally recorded by some of the group's idols, including Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins, and on many occasions, The Beatles' renditions rival the originals. [To view a complete list of all songs covered by The Beatles, click here].
Despite the large number of cover songs recorded by The Fab Four, only seven of them managed to reach the Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 in the U.S., and those seven singles are the topic of this article, notwithstanding the fact that many such songs -- including "Please Mr. Postman" (a chart-topper for The Marvelettes in 1961), "Long Tall Sally" (Little Richard, 1956) and "Honey Don't" (Carl Perkins, 1956) -- were familiar and popular as part of big-selling albums.
Only one such recording managed to chart in the Billboard Top 10, that being the raucous "Twist And Shout", which ascended to the runner-up position, while the next-highest charters were "Matchbox" at No. 17 and "Ain't She Sweet" at No. 19.
Following is a review of each of the seven U.S. charters among cover records by The Beatles, and to hear any of the songs, simply click on the title. Although some of the songs were recorded on more than one label, and some were re-released on one or more occasions, the label and numbers listed below represent the record that hit the Billboard listings in America.
* "TWIST AND SHOUT" (No. 2, 1964, Tollie 9001): This is easily The Beatles' highest-charting cover recording, as it spent four consecutive weeks in the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Magazine's pop charts. The song was first recorded by a Philadelphia group, The Top Notes, on the Atlantic label in 1961, but a more-familiar version was that by The Isley Brothers, which charted at No. 17 in 1962. This was the final track on the "Please Please Me" album, recorded in February 1963, and it was released in the U.S. on the Tollie label in March 1964. Lennon handles lead vocals and rhythm guitar, McCartney is on bass and backup vocals, George Harrison on lead guitar and backup vocals, and Ringo Starr is on drums. The flip side ("There's A Place") charted at No. 74 in the U.S., and the song had a revival in 1986, reaching No. 23 on Billboard when included in the films "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Back To School."
* "MATCHBOX" (No. 17, 1964, Capitol 5255): The Fab Four had many records on which both sides reached the Billboard Hot 100, but this is the only one featuring two cover songs (as No. 25 "Slow Down" was the B-side). The rockabilly song was written and recorded on the Sun label by Carl Perkins in 1956, and the Beatles' rendition was first released in the UK on their "Long Tall Sally" EP. When The Beatles began performing the song in the early '60s, then-drummer Pete Best was on lead vocals, but Starr sings lead and plays drums on this version. As was usually the case, all instruments on the song -- including bass (McCartney), lead guitar (Harrison) and rhythm guitar (Lennon) -- are played by the Beatles themselves, with the exception of the piano, played by producer George Martin.
* "AIN'T SHE SWEET" (No. 19, 1964, ATCO 6308): This song dates back to 1927, when it was composed by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen, and it was recorded by many orchestras and singers in the Big Band Era, first by the Ben Burnie Orchestra. The Beatles' recording was made in 1961 with Lennon on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, McCartney on bass, Harrison on lead guitar and Pete Best on drums, although Starr played drums on some later re-releases. Produced by Burt Kaempfert, it was released on the Polydor label in the UK and on ATCO in America.
* "SLOW DOWN" (No. 25, 1964, Capitol 5255): This rendition first appeared on The Beatles' "Long Tall Sally" EP, and it was a cover version of a 1958 song written and recorded by Larry Williams. In America, this record was released as a single in August 1964 (with "Matchbox" on the other side), and it appeared on The Beatles' third U.S. album, "Something New." Lennon provides lead vocals and rhythm guitar, while McCartney plays bass, Harrison is on lead guitar, and Starr is on drums. The record also features piano playing by producer Martin.
* "MY BONNIE" (No. 26, 1964, MGM 13213): Soon after the British Invasion swept the U.S. in early 1964, MGM Records secured the rights to four recordings by Tony Sheridan and The Beatles, including this one, and on Jan. 27, that label issued its version of the "My Bonnie" single. The artist was listed as The Beatles with Tony Sheridan, instead of Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers, as shown on an April 1962 single on the Decca label. A slow English intro, which had been part of the earlier recordings, was edited out of the MGM version. Unlike the earlier Decca single -- which marked the first Beatles appearance on U.S. vinyl -- the MGM disc peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 on March 14. Sheridan played guitar and sang lead on this song, while McCartney played bass and did backing vocals, Lennon did handclaps and backing vocals, Harrison played guitar and Pete Best was on drums. The first recording of the song was in June 1961.
* "ACT NATURALLY" (No. 47, 1965, Capitol 5498): This C&W song, written by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison, was first recorded by Buck Owens in 1963, and it topped the Billboard country singles chart. As part of the "Help!" album, it would be one of the last cover songs on a Beatles album. Starr sings lead and plays drums, while McCartney plays bass and provides harmony vocals, Harrison plays a twangy lead guitar and Lennon plays rhythm guitar. Released in August in the UK and in September in the U.S., it was the flip side of the chart-topping "Yesterday."
* "ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN" (No. 68, 1964, Capitol 72133): The Beatles were huge fans of Chuck Berry's music, and they covered more songs written by him than anyone else. The song was performed first in 1956 by Berry, who took it to No. 29 on the Billboard pop charts. The Beatles' rendition was recorded on July 30, 1963 for their second British LP, but it wasn't released in the U.S. until April of the following year. It features Harrison on vocals and lead guitar, while McCartney was on bass, Lennon on rhythm guitar and Starr on drums, while each of the group added handclaps.