7 of John Lennon’s Favorite Songs

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

… and the rest of the 40 singles off his long-lost “Jukebox

Constantly devouring music, John Lennon had his own personal jukebox in tow after purchasing a Swiss-Made KB Discomatic in 1965. Lennon filled his antiquated music box with 40 of his favorite 45s to keep him “company” on tour.

The collection of singles showcased Lennon’s diverse musical appetite through an analog playlist that was a blueprint for shaping his own sound spanning folk, rock, rhythm, and blues, and Motown. The list included everyone from Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Smokey Robinson, Bob Dylan, Paul Revere & the Raiders, and The Lovin’ Spoonful among others, including the sole female artist in his Discomatic: R&B singer Fontella Bass and her 1965 hit “Rescue Me.”

When Lennon’s old jukebox resurfaced at Christie’s auction in 1989 and sold to John Midwinter for £2,500 (approximately $2,770), the Bristol music producer spent several years restoring and researching all the 45s Lennon personally placed inside, along with his handwritten notes around some of his favorite songs.

Before Midwinter died after a battle with throat cancer in 2004, he wanted the story of Lennon’s jukebox of songs to be shared. A documentary later aired on the British arts series The South Bank Show, featuring interviews with artists influenced by Lennon and those who recorded some of the songs in his music box.

Here’s a look into seven of Lennon’s favorite songs and his entire jukebox list of 40 singles below.

1. “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” Buddy Holly (1956)

Originally written and recorded by Chuck Berry—whose 1964 rock hit “No Particular Place to Go” also made Lennon’s playlist—”Brown Eyed Handsome Man” was first released as a B-Side to “Too Much Monkey Business” and later on Berry’s 1957 debut After School Session. The song was covered by a number of artists, including Buddy Holly, whose version was released four years after his death in 1959 and hit No. 3. A significant influence of The Beatles, the Fab Four also covered Berry’s 1956 hit “Roll Over Beethoven” on their second album With the Beatles in 1963 and his 1957 hit “Rock and Roll Music” on their 1964 release Beatles for Sale.

2. “Ooh! My Soul,” Little Richard (1958)

It was in November 1962 that The Beatles first met Little Richard during their second residency at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany. The two acts would often perform together and became good friends. Little Richard appears three times on Lennon’s Discomatic collection with his 1956 hit “Slippin’ and Slidin’ (Peepin’ and Hidin’),” the 1957 single “Long Tall Sally,” and “Ooh My Soul,” off Richard’s self-titled breakthrough album. The Beatles later recorded “Ooh My Soul” at the Playhouse Theatre in Manchester with McCartney on lead vocals, which was later released on their 1994 compilation Live at BBC.

3. “New Orleans,” Gary U.S. Bonds (1961)

Written by Frank Guida and Joseph Royster and performed by Gary U.S. Bonds, who headlined above The Beatles when he toured Europe in 1963, “New Orleans” was released in 1960. The track was featured on Bonds’ 1961 album Dance ‘Til Quarter to Three with U.S. Bond, and was one of two Bonds songs off the album that Lennon added to his 45 collection. Off the same album, Bonds’ No. 1 hit “Quarter to Three,” written by Gene Barge, Frank Guida, and Joseph Royster, also made it onto Lennon’s jukebox.

4. “What’s So Good About Goodbye,” The Miracles (1962)

“That’s me trying to be Smokey Robinson again,” said Lennon in his Discomatic notes, likening The Beatles’ 1963 hit “All My Loving” to something Robinson would have composed. Robinson and the Miracles appear five times on Lennon’s playlist with “I’ve Been Good to You,” “Who’s Lovin’ You,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “Shop Around,” and “What’s So Good About Goodbye,” off the group’s third album I’ll Try Something New.

5. “Positively 4th Street,” Bob Dylan (1965)

First recorded in New York City on July 29, 1965, Bob Dylan released “Positively 4th Street,” between his Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde albums as the follow-up to his hit single “Like a Rolling Stone” though the track was never featured on either album. The Beatles once rehearsed “Positively 4th Street” during their Let It Be sessions, but they never finished a completed version.

6. “Bring It On Home to Me,” The Animals (1965)

Also part of the great British Invasion, The Animals were more R&B driven than the Fab Four. Their rendition of Sam Cooke’s 1962 classic “Bring It on Home to Me” was released on the band’s third album Animal Tracks, a collection of singles and other assorted recordings never released on their first two albums.

7. “Some Other Guy,” The Big Three (1973)

Also out of Liverpool, The Big Three formed in 1963 and underwent several lineup changes while releasing several singles throughout the 1960s before their first and only album, Resurrection, in 1973. Their single “Some Other Guy,” was written by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, and Richie Barrett (who first recorded the track) and was covered by The Beatles in 1963.

The Complete List: John Lennon’s Jukebox of 40 Favorite Songs

  • “In the Midnight Hour” – Wilson Pickett
  • “Rescue Me” – Fontella Bass
  • “The Tracks of My Tears” – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
  • “My Girl” – Otis Redding
  • “1-2-3” – Len Barry
  • “Hi-Heel Sneakers” – Tommy Tucker
  • “The Walk” – Jimmy McCracklin
  • “Gonna Send You Back to Georgia” – Timmy Shaw
  • “First I Look at the Purse” – The Contours
  • “New Orleans” – Gary U.S. Bonds
  • “Watch Your Step” – Bobby Parker
  • “Daddy Rollin’ Stone” – Derek Martin
  • “Short Fat Fannie” – Larry Williams
  • “Long Tall Sally” – Little Richard
  • “Money (That’s What I Want)” – Barrett Strong
  • “Hey! Baby” – Bruce Channel
  • “Positively 4th Street” – Bob Dylan
  • “Wild About My Lovin'” – The Lovin’ Spoonful
  • “Turquoise” – Donovan
  • “Slippin’ and Slidin” – Buddy Holly
  • “Be-Bop-A-Lula” – Gene Vincent
  • “No Particular Place to Go” – Chuck Berry
  • “Steppin’ Out” – Paul Revere & the Raiders
  • “Do You Believe in Magic’ – The Lovin’ Spoonful
  • “Some Other Guy” – The Big Three
  • “Twist and Shout” – The Isley Brothers
  • “She Said, Yeah” – Larry Williams
  • “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” – Buddy Holly
  • “Slippin’ and Slidin” – Little Richard
  • “Quarter to Three’ – Gary U.S. Bonds
  • “Ooh! My Soul” – Little Richard
  • “Woman Love” – Gene Vincent
  • “Shop Around” – The Miracles
  • “Bring It on Home to Me” – The Animals
  • “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody” – James Ray with the Hutch Davie Orchestra
  • “What’s So Good About Goodbye” – The Miracles
  • “Bad Boy” – Larry Williams
  • “Agent Double-O Soul” – Edwin Starr
  • “I’ve Been Good to You” – The Miracles
  • “Who’s Lovin’ You” – The Miracles

Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images

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