The Beatles acted as a backing band for English singer before fame

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The Beatles didn’t reach mainstream fame until the early 1960s. Before then, they were performing live at every chance they could. Their adventures eventually took them to Hamburg, Germany, where they played a residency slot daily for weeks at a time before they ventured back to Liverpool, UK, and were signed by Brian Epstein. Before that, however, they secured a gig as one famous star’s backing band

While in Hamburg The Beatles were approached by Tony Sheridan’s manager who asked them to be his next backing band.

The English singer-songwriter needed a new set of musicians to record an upcoming track of his called My Bonnie.

The Fab Four agreed, and their recording session went so well that they were allowed to record two extra tracks with Sheridan.

They laid down the instrumental song Cry For a Shadow. But George Harrison later recalled how frustrated they were by the experience.

Harrison explained in the Beatles Anthology: “It was a bit disappointing because we’d been hoping to get a record deal for ourselves.”

In fact, The Beatles wrote and recorded two new songs for Sheridan, but they were ultimately snubbed when it came time for the record to be pressed.

“Although we did Ain’t She Sweet and the instrumental Cry For A Shadow without Sheridan,” Harrison went on. “They didn’t even put our name on the record.”

The official release of these songs was credited to Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers – really, The Beatles.

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Years later, Paul McCartney commented on the band’s change of name.

He said: “They didn’t like our name and said: ‘Change to The Beat Brothers; this is more understandable for the German audience.’ We went along with it.”

Despite this, Cry For a Shadow was eventually credited to Lennon-Harrison. It was also one of the very few instrumental songs The Beatles had ever released.

Still, Harrison and his pals couldn’t be too disappointed, especially considering how much effort they put into the songs.

They recalled that Cry For a Shadow was completely inspired by a song from The Shadows titled Apache.

In fact, it started out as a cover before they began to change the track entirely.

Harrison pointed out in 1987: “In Hamburg, we had to play so long, we actually used to play Apache. But John and I were just bulls*****ng one day, and he had this new little Rickenbacker with a funny kind of wobble bar on it. And he started playing that off, and I just came in, and we made it up, right on the spot.”

The Fab Four’s work was later rereleased in a compilation album titled The Beatles with Tony Sheridan and Their Guests in 1964.

This time around, the band were at the forefront of all the marketing and included a collection of tracks with The Beatles playing alongside some big names, including Sheridan and The Titans.


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