Fifty years ago, in 1961, before The Beatles set foot in a recording studio with George Martin, they cut a batch of songs with fellow British singer Tony Sheridan in Hamburg, Germany. Now those sessions are being reissued this fall as The Beatles With Tony Sheridan: First Recordings.
Sheridan was an up-and-coming vocalist who performed in Hamburg during the same time as The Beatles, whose lineup then included drummer Pete Best. Polydor Records executive Bert Kaempfert was impressed with Sheridan and arranged to have him work with The Beatles as his backing band.
Some of those early recordings, including the John Lennon-sung Ain't She Sweet and the George Harrison instrumental Cry For A Shadow, have been released dozens of times over the years - on some albums The Beatles were referred to as 'The Beat Brothers' or 'The Savage Young Beatles' - but now the full set has been repackaged as a double CD.
Also included in The Beatles With Tony Sheridan: First Recordings (due out 8 November) are rarely seen photographs taken by one-time Beatles guitarist Stuart Sutcliffe's fiancee Astrid Kirchherr, band contracts, poster art of early shows and handwritten biographies by each member of the group.
Among the tracks on First Recordings is a rendition of My Bonnie, which is famous in Beatles lore: One day in 1961 a young man named Raymond Jones went into Brian Epstein's record shop in Liverpool and requested a single of My Bonnie. Epstein hadn't heard of The Beatles or the record, but he made a note to follow up on both the song and the band. And as every Beatlemaniac surely knows, he did just that.