The Beatles’ 50 best songs

Roll up! The Fab Four's greatest songs chosen by famous fans

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Single, October 1962

BRYAN FERRY: To be a pop star wasn’t an option when I was at school, until The Beatles came along. It was all Tommy Steele. And pop wasn’t covered in the national papers at all until they landed at Kennedy Airport. I remember hearing “Love Me Do” on the radio, and thinking “God, that’s different.”


ANDREW LOOG OLDHAM: “Love Me Do”, “Please Please Me” and “From Me To You” were the first three singles and, during that time, I was employed by Brian Epstein to get publicity from London for The Beatles. I was able to experience this celebratory triple-drive to the top of the charts as a fan. After “From Me To You”, I started working with The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles became the competition, albeit fab and friendly, but I was never able to hear their records the same way again…The Beatles simply made records that changed the name of the game, and those three singles were the first serve.

DEREK HATTON: I remember everybody in Liverpool waiting in a queue for “Love Me Do” when it first came out. I went to the same school, the Liverpool Institute, as Paul McCartney. He was in the final year the year I started. We were literally only round the corner from the Cavern, and we used to go down at lunchtime. Cilla Black was a very good cloakroom girl- the problem was when she started to sing. The first time I ever spoke to Paul properly was in 1983 when we gave him the freedom of the city of Liverpool, and we had a long conversation about the old days.

RICH ROBINSON: It sounded so unique, specifically because of the harmonica. It wasn’t until later that I heard that Delbert McClinton had shown John how to play it.

HOLLY JOHNSON: “Love Me Do” wafted over me in my pram as I was being pushed down Penny Lane by my mum who lived just round the corner from “The Beatles!” This record was the beginning of Beatlemania. The world would never be the same.

NODDY HOLDER: I’d actually seen The Beatles in a youth club in the Midlands. At the time, most groups were doing a Cliff Richard and the Shadows-type act, but The Beatles had this very raw sound. The only band I’d seen with such a basic sound and exciting show were Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages- but it was always singer and backing band. The Beatles were a four-man band. They were real scruff bags on stage. So rock’n’roll. When “Love Me Do” came out, it encapsulated what I’d seen on stage that night.

PETER NOONE: It was so naïve, how they began. You listen to that, you go “Wow, they went a long way, didn’t they?” That’s like the first holy communion picture- all these naïve, 12 or 13 year old people, doing what they thought they should be doing right at the beginning…and then every record got better.
White Album track, November 1968


JOE ELLIOTT: That’s the one that would always get my dad whistling. He never really knew the words, but he knew the melody. I love the chord progression, and it’s got a great solo. The whole verse is in a minor feel, but when it gets to “I don’t know how…” it goes major. You can hear where Bowie got his early influences from in stuff like this, and I think George Harrison influenced a lot more guitarists than they ever let on- Brian May, Richie Sambora, Joe Perry. I’ve never met a Beatle, but I did have the pleasure once of having my foot stood on by Ringo Starr. I remember going “Wow!”

GREG GRIFFIN: George Harrison stands head and shoulders about anybody, maybe apart from Lennon and McCartney. There’s no people on earth that he might have to wrestle with a bit, apart from them two.


Single, November 1963

ROGER McGUINN: The first time I heard The Beatles, I fell in love with their sound. After hearing “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” on the radio, I went to the record shop on 8th Street in Greenwich Village and bought “Meet the Beatles”.

EUROS CHILD: You get purists who say The Beatles were good from “Help!” onwards, but I like the early stuff just as much. It’s maybe the first track I heard by them. It just got me into the whole thing.

JACKIE LEVEN: As much as I loved “She Loves You”, this had moments that were so exciting and transcendental. I remember playing it over and over again until my parents began to worry about my sanity or the terrifying power of pop music. There’s something about the falsetto “hand” in the chorus that was so exciting. It’s so sexual as well, and it coincided with my first, tender courtships of a non-sexual nature, a real awakening to what it was all about.

PETER NOONE: They had more energy before they even started singing than most modern bands get in the whole of an album. They had it together in the studio. In the very early days, I was at a TV show in Manchester, where people like Ray Charles were singing Beatles songs. I went in the dressing room and there was Paul McCartney talking with George Martin about compression. They said “Which Beatles song do you do?” I said “I don’t do any, I’m just, like, a fan.” They said “Oh, that’s nice, bye…”

IAN McNABB: What that must’ve sounded like to the Americans, who were still in a bit of a Bobby Darin period- they were on a downer ‘cos of the Kennedy thing and the Cold War- and this explosion of energy from some place they’d never heard of just really knocked them on their ass. From my generation, the one thing I can relate that to was when “God Save The Queen” came out, by The Pistols.


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