When was it recorded? Jul. 2, 1963
When was it first released, and on which album? Nov. 30, 1994
Who wrote it? Frank Pingatore
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
Frank Pingatore composed “Clarabella”; he was not an easy man for me to find. I found a number of ancestors named for him that are around and in the news today, but Frank the First doesn’t have much of an online presence. What information I dug up on him is closely tied to two rockabilly groups, one of which originally recorded “Clarabella,” so let’s talk about them quick.
Billy Haley and His Comets was an American band best known for their 1954 version of “Rock Around the Clock.” Pingatore didn’t write that one, but he is credited for two other songs off BHAHC’s album “Rock Around the Clock.”
The Jodimars was another American band comprised of former Billy Haley and His Comets members. When these members struck out on their own, they asked Pingatore, then “a member of the Haley entourage” (Wikipedia) to be their manager. From what I can gather, Pingatore declined (and even helped them find a different manager), but he did supply them with songs to record, notably “Well Now Dig This” and “Let’s All Rock Together.” Here’s their version of “Clarabella,” recorded in 1956.
The Beatles covered “Clarabella” for BBC Radio’s show “Pop Go the Beatles” on July 2, 1963, with the recording being broadcast July 16. It wasn’t released commercially until 1994, as noted above.
Blasphemous as it may be, I greatly prefer the Beatles’ cover to the original. They gave it a much-needed dose of rock (which sufficiently distracted me from the odd lyrics — she long short hair? And I should hope she knows her alphabet if you’re going to making love to her. Priorities, man).