Beatles writing duo Lennon and McCartney were so prolific, they had hits to spare

Beatles writing duo Lennon and McCartney were so prolific, they had hits to spare

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But what is less known is the sheer number of songs they gave away, which helped put some of their peers – from The Rolling Stones to Cilla Black – on the path to stardom.

Because of their prolific output, the Fab Four started gifting songs to other artists shortly after the release of their second single and first major hit, Please Please Me, in January 1963. It marked an amazing two years when The Beatles produced sufficient hit songs not just for their own use, but for friends and rivals too.

Please Please Me was soon followed up by From Me To You, which spent seven weeks at number 1 and both sides of all three of their singles to date had been written by Lennon and McCartney.

Almost all of their future hit singles – Something was written by guitarist George Harrison – were composed by John and Paul as well.

But one factor that really marked The Beatles out as extraordinary was the quantity of top quality self-penned material they had available – far more than they could ever use themselves.

In addition, The Beatles spearheaded the Liverpool sound and were at the forefront of Merseymania during 1963, when a seemingly endless stream of Liverpool groups followed in their wake and enjoyed chart success.

The Searchers reached number 1 with their first hit and went on to have sustained success during the 1960s. Others who benefited from the Beatles effect included The Merseybeats,The Swinging Blue Jeans and The Scaffold, whose guitarist was Mike McGear, McCartney’s younger brother.

This gave rise to an unprecedented phenomenon: a group gifting an abundance of their own hitworthy songs to their competitors.The other enormous change in the music business caused by The Beatles’ unparalleled songwriting success was the near death of the professional songwriter.

Independent writers like Burt Bacharach, Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote for music acts as lucrative freelance composers. But after The Beatles’ pioneering example, many acts switched to writing their own material, including The Rolling Stones and The Kinks. Read on for the amazing roll call of hits The Beatles gave away.

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The surprising stars who benefited from the genius of the fab four

  • DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET? Given to Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas in March 1963, this song was a track on The Beatles’ first LP which they had no interest in issuing as a single themselves. Kramer took it to number 2 in Britain. (The B side was a winsome ballad called ‘I’ll Be On My Way’. Another Lennon and McCartney song, it was almost strong enough to become a hit in its own right.)

  • LOVE OF THE LOVED: Cilla Black was the unknown hat-check girl at the Cavern Club in Liverpool until she was taken under Brian Epstein’s wing. This compelling beat ballad from Lennon and McCartney was her first single. It only reached number 35 but created enough of a stir to pave the way for the two monster hits that followed from other writers: Anyone Who Had A Heart and You’re My World. Cilla had two subsequent top 10 hits with memorable Lennon and McCartney songs penned for her: 1964’s It’s For You and, in 1968, Step Inside Love.

  • I WANNA BE YOUR MAN: In November 1963 a new band called The Rolling Stones hammered their way high into the top 20 with this, their aggressive second single. Few realised, until they bought the 45, that this was actually a Lennon and McCartney song. It had just been issued by The Beatles as a lowly track on their second album With The Beatles, sung by Ringo. Later, asked about letting their rivals the Stones have the song, John commented: “We weren’t going to give them anything great, right?”

  • FROM ME TO YOU: Del Shannon, renowned hit maker of classic singles like Runaway, had been touring in Britain with The Beatles. He had seen for himself the mass adulation they were receiving from their fans. He liked their number 1 hit From Me To You, so he covered it for the American market. (The Beatles were unknown in the US at this time, and their original version had already died a death over there.) Shannon’s From Me To You charted in the US on June 29, 1963. It only reached number 77 – but it was the very first Beatles song to succeed in America, seven months before they had their own debut hit there with I Want To Hold Your Hand.

  • A WORLD WITHOUT LOVE: In early 1964, this great McCartney song was given to struggling duo Peter and Gordon. Peter Asher just happened to be the brother of Jane Asher, who McCartney was dating at the time. It went to number 1 in both Britain and America.

  • WOMAN: After trying out re-treads of old classics (True Love Ways and To Know Him Is To Love Him) with some success, Peter and Gordon returned to Paul McCartney in 1965 for Woman. McCartney was so sensitive about being thought of as a hit factory for others that he insisted the song come out as written by ‘Bernard Webb’. Paul claimed he wanted to see if the song would succeed on its own merits – but the truth about its writer came out anyway. It reached number 14 in the US and number 28 in Britain.

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  • LIKE DREAMERS DO: The Applejacks were casting around for a follow up to their debut hit Tell Me When which had reached number 7. They were offered Lennon and McCartney’s unused Like Dreamers Do which got to number 20. After one more minor hit with a different writer, The Applejacks faded away.

  • GOODBYE: Paul McCartney wrote this hit for teen singer Mary Hopkin after originally seeing her on television talent show Opportunity Knocks. Credited to Lennon and McCartney, it was a sizeable hit. Paul had also produced (though not penned) her first single, Those Were The Days, which went to number 1 around the world, selling an amazing eight million copies.

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