10 Little-Known Songs That Directly Inspired Beatles Classics

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Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! It was fifty years ago today! For those of you who don’t know, the Beatles are our favorite band in the history of sound, and this is a very special day for any Beatlemaniac. It was exactly a half century ago that the Fab Four made their iconic debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, giving Americans their first chance to truly meet the Beatles! These past few weeks the internet has been flooded with are a wealth of wonderfully-written articles detailing exactly why the John, Paul, George and Ringo were so incredible. Obviously we share the same sentiment, but we’d like to offer a little something different to the mix. As the Beatles’ beloved songs have influenced generations of songwriters, we’ve decided to celebrate this special day by taking a look at the songs that influenced them. Read on for some of the band’s favorite songs, which actually inspired some of their most famous classics. Merry Beat-mas, one and all!

10. “I Feel Fine” (1964)

The Song You Know:

The One You May Not: “Watch Your Step” by Bobby Parker (1961)

This soul stomper from the late-great Parker was a firm favorite of John Lennon‘s. In fact, he even had it in his personal jukebox! John claimed that the tune inspired their 1966 single “Day Tripper,” but it also sounds like John had the recurring guitar-riff and bossa nova-flavored drum beats in mind when writing “I Feel Fine.” Of course, all three awesome tracks are in our personal (iTunes) jukebox.

 

9. “Love Me Do” (1962)

The Song You Know:

The One You May Not: “Hey Baby” by Bruce Channel (1962)

Also found in Lennon’s private jukebox stock, Channel’s hit song was influential for featuring a chromatic harmonica break that repeated over the chorus. The Beatles opened for Channel at a Merseyside gig in early ’62, and John was able to hang out with his harmonica player Delbert McClinton. Although McClinton didn’t TEACH him the instrument (he’d already been playing since he was a kid), they definitely swapped tips. Years later, John admitted that the bluesy figure in the Beatles’ first single was inspired by the tune, as well as the (less bluesy) “I Remember You” by Frank Ifield.

 

8. “If I Needed Someone” (1965)

The Song You Know: 

The One You May Not: “The Bells Of Rhymney” by The Byrds (1965)

Inspiration comes full circle with this one! The Byrds‘ lead guitarist Roger McGuinn was first inspired to pick up his trademark Rickenbacker electric 12-string after seeing George Harrison play one (the first the company ever produced) in their movie, A Hard Day’s Night. He lead his group to massive chart success with rocked-up versions of folk songs, like Bob Dylan‘s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and Pete Seeger‘s “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” eventually becoming friends with the Fab Four on their 1965 American Tour. Although just an album cut on their debut record, Harrison was particularly taken with another Seeger song, “The Bells Of Rhymney.”

McGuinn confirms that the Beatle indeed borrowed the riff when recording his own song, “If I Needed Someone,” for the Rubber Soul album -and he even sent the Byrd a tape thanking them! “George was very open about it,” he admits in Rolling Stone. “He sent [the record] to us in advance and said, ‘This is for Jim,’ because of that lick.”