The Beatles Songs: "Twist and Shout"

The history of this classic Beatles song

The original UK EP
The original UK EP "Twist and Shout".

Twist and Shout

Written by: Phil Medley and Bert Burns (credited as Medley-Russell)
Recorded: February 11, 1963 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: February 25, 1963
Length: 2:31
Takes: 2


John Lennon: lead vocal, rhythm guitar (1958 Rickenbacker 325)
Paul McCartney: backing vocal, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
George Harrison: backing vocal, lead guitar (1957 Gretsch Duo Jet G6128T)
Ringo Starr: drums (1960 Premier kit)

First released: March 2, 1964 (US: Tollie 9001)

Available on: (CDs in bold)

  • Please Please Me, (UK: Parlophone PMC 1202, PCS 3042, Parlophone CDP7 46435-2p, US: Capitol CLJ 46435)
  • Introducing the Beatles, (US: VeeJay VJLP 1062)
  • The Early Beatles, (US: Capitol (S)T 2309), Capitol CDP 0946 3 57498 2 3}
  • Twist and Shout (EP), (UK: Parlophone GEP 8882}

Highest chart position: 2 (US: April 4, 1964)

The History and Recording of the Beatles' "Twist and Shout" Song

Perhaps the Beatles' best-known cover, the "Twist and Shout" original was a hit for the Isley Brothers first, who reached #17 with it in 1962. An attempt to cash in on the "Twist" craze while adding some popular Latin elements, the song was deemed too pop by the Isleys, then desperate to follow up their hit "Shout!" (The "Twist and Shout" original, produced by a young Phil Spector and credited to "The Top Notes," sank without a trace in 1961.) The record was so successful the Brothers used its profits to start their own label, T-Neck.

Phil Medley and Bert Burns wrote the original; Medley had already scored a hit for Jimmy Charles with "A Million To One," while Burns wrote or co-wrote several hits, including the Jarmels' "A Little Bit Of Soap," Solomon Burke's "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," The Strangelove's "I Want Candy," The McCoys' "Hang on Sloopy," Them's "Here Comes the Night," The Exciters' "Tell Him," and two Garnet Mimms songs, "Cry Baby" and "Piece Of My Heart," both later made famous by Janis Joplin.

This song is famous for having been the last one recorded during the all-day session on February 11, 1963 that resulted in most of the band's first album, . An favorite from the Fabs' stage show, it was saved for last by producer George Martin because it was the hardest to sing -- John, suffering from a cold, sang it so roughly that his voice was not quite right for days afterwards. The ragged quality of his voice, however, is precisely what appeals to fans of the song, who find it rawer than many Beatles covers.

The harmonic buildup of John, George, and Paul's vocals (in order) was taken from the Isleys' version, but the repeated "woo!" was of course a Beatles trademark by this point, itself a tribute to Little Richard.

Known live versions of "Twist and Shout"

January 16, 1964 (Olympia Theatre, Paris, France)
February 11, 1964 (Washington Coliseum, Washington, DC)
February 12, 1964 (Carnegie Hall, New York)
February 16, 1964 (Deauville Hotel, Miami, FL, for broadcast on The Ed Sullivan Show)
June 4, 1964 (K.B. Hallen Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark)
June 12-13, 1964 (Centennial Hall, Adelaide, Australia)
June 15-17, 1964 (Festival Hall, Melbourne, Australia)
August 21st, 1964 (Seattle Coliseum, Seattle, WA)
August 22, 1964 (Empire Stadium, Vancouver, BC)
August 23, 1964 (Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA)
September 2, 1964 (Convention Hall, Philadelphia, PA)
September 3, 1964 (State Fair Coliseum, Indianapolis, IN)
June 20, 1965 (Palais Des Sports, Paris, France)
June 22, 1965 (Palais d'Hiver, Lyon, France)
June 24, 1965 (Velodromo, Milan, Italy)
June 25, 1969 (Palazzo Dello Sport, Genoa, Italy)
June 27-28, 1965 (Teatro Adriano, Rome, Italy)
June 30, 1965 (Palais Des Fetes, Nice, France)
July 2, 1965 (Plaza De Toros De Madrid, Madrid, Spain)
July 3, 1965 (Plaza de Toros Monumental, Barcelona, Spain)
August 15, 1965 (Shea Stadium, New York, NY)
August 17, 1965 (Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada)
August 18, 1965 (Atlanta Stadium, Atlanta, GA)
August 19, 1965 (Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TX)
August 20, 1965 (White Sox Park, Chicago, IL)
August 21, 1965 (Metropolitan Stadium, Minneapolis, MN)
August 22, 1965 (Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR)
August 28, 1965 (Balboa Stadium, San Diego, CA)
August 19-30, 1965 (Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA)
August 31, 1965 (Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA)

BBC radio versions of "Twist and Shout": 10 (for the BBC radio programs Talent Spot, Swinging Sound '63, Beat Show, Saturday Club, Royal Variety Performance, Pop Goes The Beatles, and Easy Beat)

More Fun Facts and Trivia about the Beatles' "Twist and Shout"

After appearing in two movies released in 1986 -- Ferris Beuller's Day Off and Back to School, where it was sung by Rodney Dangerfield -- the Beatles' version was re-released as a single (Capitol 5624), climbing all the way back to #23 on the Billboard charts.

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Your Citation
Fontenot, Robert. "The Beatles Songs: "Twist and Shout"." ThoughtCo, May. 2, 2016, Fontenot, Robert. (2016, May 2). The Beatles Songs: "Twist and Shout". Retrieved from Fontenot, Robert. "The Beatles Songs: "Twist and Shout"." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 22, 2017).