Why Lennon and McCartney’s US Chart Debut Wasn’t With the Beatles
John Lennon and Paul McCartney are often regarded as the greatest songwriting tandem of all time, thanks to timeless material with the Beatles. Yet someone else released their initial charting song in the U.S.
Instead, it was Del Shannon, the Michigan-born rocker best known for his 1961 hit “Runaway.” He was on the bill during an all-star concert in 1963 at London's Royal Albert Hall where the Beatles performed “Twist and Shout” and “From Me to You.” Shannon tracked down Lennon afterward.
“I’m going to cover ‘From Me to You,’” Shannon remembered telling Lennon, “because the English were always covering American artists.” He said Lennon initially liked the idea, then quickly changed his mind. The Beatles’ manager also didn’t seem thrilled: “Brian [Epstein] didn’t want anybody to cover any of their songs before they were released in America.”
Undeterred, Shannon released his update in June 1963, just weeks after the Beatles issued “From Me to You” in the U.S. – and more than a month after their original version reached No. 1 in the U.K. The Beatles flopped, while Shannon’s cover became the first Lennon-McCartney composition to chart in America.
Listen to Del Shannon's 'From Me to You'
"At that time no one had heard of the Beatles here [in the U.S.], but I knew they were great writers," Shannon later argued. His rendition entered the Hot 100 on June 29, eventually peaking at No. 77.
It wouldn’t be long until the Beatles finally scored their own U.S. successes. By the end of 1963, they'd released “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” both of which hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart. Beatlemania would soon follow.
Listen to the Beatles' 'From Me to You'
“From Me to You” was then rereleased as the B-side to the Beatles' “Please Please Me” in 1964. Thanks to their growing stardom, the song finally charted at No. 41.
Meanwhile, Shannon enjoyed success for several more years, placing the songs “Handy Man,” “Keep Searchin' (We'll Follow the Sun)” and “Stranger in Town” in the Top 40. His last hit, “Sea of Love,” was released in 1981. Shannon died by suicide in 1990 and was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
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