The Beatles were one of the first bands to show the world that they could write their own material and be successful. In the previous decades it was common that behind a famous artist there were songwriters who provided them the music and lyrics, something that continued to exist, of course.
The songwriting partnership between John Lennon and Paul McCartney is the most successful of all time since they wrote most of the band’s hits and the group sold an estimated amount of more than 600 million records worldwide. That huge sales number simply make them the best-selling band of all time.
But as many bands from the early 60s, they were convinced to record many covers during their first years since it would be easier to gain an audience. One of the most famous ones became “Twist and Shout” and since their version is so good, millions of fans believe it was originally written by them.
Which artist originally wrote The Beatles hit “Twist and Shout”
The Beatles are one of the most covered bands in the history of music but there are only a few songwriters who can have the privilege to say they were covered by the Fab Four. Two of them are Bert Berns and Phil Medley. They who wrote “Twist and Shout”, a song that was originally recorded by the American R&B vocal group Top Notes.
Although he had a short career since he passed away at the age of 38 in 1967, Berns co-wrote many incredible tracks. Some others were “Piece of My Heart” (Janis Joplin), “Here Comes The Night” (Them) and “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” (Solomon Burke). He also worked as the producer of other famous singles. Some of them were “Brown Eyed Girl” (Van Morrison) and “Under The Boardwalk” (The Drifters). Paul McCartney praised Berns on the documentary “Bang! The Bert Berns Story” released in 2016. The Beatle said: “Bert deserves to be elevated to his rightful place in the music industry.”
In the same interview McCartney also said that they originally believed the song was from the Isley Brothers. “I must say we didn’t know about Bert, because we thought the Isley’s had written it. The Isley’s version just blew our minds. Songs like ‘Twist and Shout’ made the look of The Beatles as well as the sound. (…) It was a great song to perform. This was a song for us,” Paul McCartney said.
As for Phil Medley, he had a longer career since he passed away at age of 81 in 1997. Besides “Twist and Shout” he also co-wrote other famous songs like “A Million to One” (Jimmy Charles) and “Killer Joe” (The Kingsmen).
It was the famous Phil Spector who produced the first version of “Twist and Shout”
Curiously, the producer of the original “Twist and Shout” recording by The Top Notes in 1961 was Phil Spector. The famous American producer was the only other person besides Sir George Martin who produced a Beatles studio album. He was responsible for their final album “Let It Be” released in 1970. Spector also worked with Lennon and Harrison on their solo albums.
In 1962 the Isley Brothers released the song as a single becoming a hit in the United States. But of course, with John Lennon on vocals, it was The Beatles cover from 1963 that became a global hit. It was a number one hit in several countries and peaked on number 2 at the Billboard Hot 100. It was later featured on their debut album “Please Please Me” (1964).
John Lennon said that he wasn’t a huge fan of the track. The reason was because he had to force his voice so much during the recording. He felt like he never could reproduce the same way during live shows. He even said that his voice wasn’t the same for a long time after those sessions to record the track.