Deep Beatles: “Some Other Guy” (BBC version, 1963)

Years ago, low-quality footage surfaced of the Beatles performing “Some Other Guy” at the Cavern Club on October 22, 1962. Filmed by Manchester-based Grenada Television, the brief clip captures the Beatles playing before a packed lunchtime crowd at the Cavern.

Originally intended for a program entitled Know the North, its grainy quality made it unsuitable for broadcast — until the Beatles hit it big in 1963, naturally. After it finally aired on November 6, 1963’s edition of Grenada’s Scene at 6:30, the footage only appeared on bootlegs or frustratingly briefly in documentaries. However, a complete performance of “Some Other Guy” surfaced on 1994’s Live at the BBC compilation, one that presents listeners with a picture of how their Hamburg and early Liverpool shows must have sounded.

The group stumbled onto the Richie Barrett R&B single through Brian Epstein. As George Harrison explained in Anthology, the Beatles would scour the racks at Epstein’s NEMS record store, hunting for songs to play in their shows. The store’s extensive selection included songs that were not hits in Britain or the U.S., offering the band a unique opportunity to discover more obscure tracks.

While “Some Other Guy” may not have been a huge success, its pedigree was impressive: it was co-written by Barrett, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller. Barrett’s original version leaned more toward R&B than rock, with an electric piano prominently featured.

Due to its rough sound and fast tempo, British bands in addition to the Beatles began featuring the song in their sets. London act Johnny Kidd and the Pirates recorded their own version in 1963, although it was not released until 1990. Therefore another Liverpool band, the Big Three, scored a minor hit with their take on the rocker.

The Big Three’s version most closely matches that of the Beatles’:

When the Beatles hit the Cavern Club stage, they were clad in their matching sweater vest and ties, signaling their more professional image. Another new addition: Ringo Starr, who had joined the group only days before. In the clip below, a fan can be heard screaming “We want Pete!” at the very end — of course, referring to former drummer Pete Best.

While the Beatles never recorded “Some Other Guy” for any album, they performed the song for the BBC three times. The first time was for the Saturday Club program on January 22, 1963; the second version was recorded at the BBC Paris Studio; and the final recording is the one included on Live at the BBC.

On June 19, 1963, the group performed the song in front of a live audience at London’s Playhouse Theatre; six days later the BBC broadcast the concert as part of their Easy Beat show.

The Easy Beat performance’s sound quality certainly does not rival their studio recordings; however, it still brims with energy and raw rock and roll. Paul McCartney and John Lennon sing in tandem, blending so well that they become a single voice. Lennon’s enthusiasm particularly shines, shouting “owww!” at various points. Starr easily handles the complicated, slightly offbeat drum pattern, while Harrison plays a guitar solo recalling the energy of the oft-bootlegged Hamburg shows.

Listening to this performance, one can imagine being packed into the Cavern Club like sardines, condensation dripping from the walls, watching the local boys just on the brink of stardom.

“Some Other Guy” represents the Beatles’ never-ending love of obscure American R&B, and demonstrates how they could transform the original recording into their own unique sound.

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole is a lifelong music enthusiast who maintains a stand-alone music blog called Listen to the Band. In addition, she is the internet columnist and a contributing editor for Beatlefan magazine. She also holds an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • 6stn

    Here’s the reverse of what I’ve been thinking for years: The Beatles sound like the Knickerbockers! (“Lies.”)