When was it recorded? Jun. 22-23, 1961
When was it first released, and on which album? Oct. 23, 1961 as a Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers single
Who wrote it? Traditional (arranged by Tony Sheridan)
Have I heard this song before? Uh…
What my research dug up:
This is a weird one, but I realize looking back at this journal I’ve talked about songs like it before, so here goes… something.
When the Beatles first went to Hamburg in 1960, they befriended English musician Tony Sheridan, who was also performing at the Top Ten club. Quoth Wikipedia, “On their second visit, in 1961, The Beatles backed Sheridan in a series of stage performances.”
During a two-day session in Jun. 1961, the Beatles also backed Sheridan on a number of recordings. While Sheridan has the lead vocals throughout, George contributes lead guitar to “My Bonnie.” The song also features two separate introductions, one in English and one in German.
“My Bonnie” is a traditional Scottish song. According to the Beatles Bible, “‘My Bonnie’ had been chosen because of its popularity with Hamburg’s sailors; it was part of The Beatles’ live set for the same reason.”
The reason some of this information might sound familiar is because I mentioned this session (somewhat vaguely) a long time ago. After recording with Sheridan, the Beatles recorded two of their own numbers – “Ain’t She Sweet” (Day 4) and “Cry for a Shadow” (Day 42).
According to Wikipedia, “While they recorded a number of songs together… few of them actually made it on to the album, with Sheridan re-recording many of them.”
“It’s just Tony Sheridan singing, with us banging in the background. It’s terrible. It could be anybody.” — John Lennon (Anthology)
“My Bonnie” was released as a single in West Germany on Oct. 23, 1961, credited to Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers. (Another song the Beatles backed Sheridan on, “The Saints,” was the single’s B-side.) It reached #5 on the German music charts (according to Roger Hall, “‘My Bonne’ was a big hit in Frankfurt mainly because it was very good for the Twist dance then in vogue”). The song was released as a single in Britain on Jan. 5, 1962, credited to Tony Sheridan and the Beatles. The “My Bonnie” EP was released in Britain Jul. 12, 1963, the same day Parlophone released the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” EP.
According to the Beatles Bible, “My Bonnie” counts as the Beatles’ first commercially released record.
In his reminiscence, Roger Hall called the single “a good solid up-tempo record.” I think that’s as good a description as any of this cut. I like it more than I thought I would when I started reading about it, which is always a plus.