“With a Little Help from My Friends” was briefly called “Bad Finger Boogie” during the early writing stage. Later it was titled “A Little Help from My Friends” and then finally “With a Little Help from My Friends”. The working title of “Bad Finger Boogie” came about because John Lennon had been forced to rely on his middle finger when playing the song’s piano part, having injured his forefinger earlier.
The song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney specifically for drummer Ringo Starr to sing for the Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
“Bad Finger Boogie” would later be the inspiration for the band name Badfinger. At the time, Badfinger had a recording contract with the Beatles’ Apple Records label. Some of the Apple staff were wanting to rename the band formerly known as The Iveys. Apple’s Neil Aspinall said, “Badfinger just popped in my head. It was from an old Lennon thing. He was playing the piano and he had a bad finger so he called the piece he was playing ‘Bad Finger Boogie’ (which evolved into ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’)”.
Badfinger member Joey Molland said this, “Well, I believe it was a working title to the song “With A Little Help From My Friends.” I think John Lennon played piano on the Rhodes and after that they thought he wasn’t the greatest pianist in the world, so they called it “Bad Finger Boogie.” So, that “Bad Finger Boogie” was roaming around the offices. It was Neil Aspinall who suggested Badfinger.”
The Beatles’ song “Yesterday” started out with the working title of “Scrambled Eggs.” Although credited to Lennon/McCartney, the song was written by Paul McCartney alone. Paul is also the only Beatle performing on the record. It’s the first official recording by The Beatles that only one member of the band appeared on. A string quartet accompanies McCartney’s acoustic guitar playing and vocals.
The melody of “Yesterday” came to McCartney before any words were written, so he used substitute working lyrics until he could come up with something more suitable. A few years ago Paul said, “For me, the thing was, it’s a magic song, because I woke up one morning and I dreamed it. Then over the next couple of months, I put proper words to it, because the original words were, ‘scrambled eggs, oh my baby, how I love your legs,’ which I thought, ‘maybe not.’”
McCartney composed the melody in a dream while living with then girlfriend Jane Asher and her family. When he woke up, he hurried to a piano and played the tune to help him remember it.
“Yesterday” was originally recorded for the Beatles’ 1965 album Help!
During the week of April 4, 1964, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Twist and Shout”, “She Loves You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, and “Please Please Me” occupied the top five spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100. To date, this achievement has never been matched by any other artist.
In addition to these five singles, seven of their other songs held various lower positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart during this same period. They were: “I Saw Her Standing There”, “You Can’t Do That”, “All My Loving”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, “From Me To You”, “Do You Want To Know A Secret”, and “Thank You Girl”.
“Twist and Shout” has the distinction of being the only cover song recorded by The Beatles to become a million-selling single.
The first single by an ex-Beatle to reach number one was “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison. Released in November 1970 in the US, and January 1971 in the UK, the song reached number one on the charts in both countries, as well as in a few others.
“My Sweet Lord” appeared on Harrison’s number one hit triple album All Things Must Pass. George wrote the song in December 1969, while he and Billy Preston were in Copenhagen, Denmark. Originally intended as a song for Preston, Billy’s version appeared on his album Encouraging Words. He had a minor hit with the single in early 1970.
Harrison was involved in a lengthy legal battle due to musical similarities between “My Sweet Lord” and The Chiffons’ song “He’s So Fine”. A U.S. federal court decision in the case found that Harrison “subconsciously” copied the earlier song. He had to surrender the majority of royalties from “My Sweet Lord” and a cut of royalties from his All Things Must Pass album. In something of a twist, George would eventually buy the rights to “He’s So Fine”.
After George Harrison’s death from cancer in late 2001, “My Sweet Lord” reached number one again on the UK charts when it was reissued in January 2002.