- Published on (1962 – 1965)
- Author: Johnson/Penniman/Blackwell
- Track 10 on “Past Masters Volume 1“
About “Long Tall Sally”
“Long Tall Sally” is a rock and roll song written by Little Richard, Enotris Johnson and Robert “Bumps” Blackwell.
The Beatles admired Little Richard and regularly performed his songs during their live performances. From their earliest days as the Quarrymen in 1957 until their last public show in August 1966, “Long Tall Sally” remained their most durable live song. In most of their Little Richard remakes, Paul McCartney sang lead vocals, as he was able to closely emulate Richard’s vocal style.
As part of the sessions for A Hard Day’s Night, the group recorded “Long Tall Sally” at EMI Studios in London on March 1, 1964, although the song wasn’t included on the album. The Beatles’ regular producer, George Martin, produced the recording, and he also played piano on it. It took only a single take for the group to record the song due to their familiarity with it.
“Long Tall Sally” was released in the United Kingdom on June 19, 1964, but it had been released earlier on two overseas albums, The Beatles’ Second Album in the United States on April 10, 1964, and The Beatles’ Long Tall Sally in Canada on May 11, 1964. Sweden’s Tio i Topp charted the song at number two in June, while the Kvällstoppen Chart topped in July and August. In Denmark, it reached number one as well. Originally released in 1988, the song appeared on the compilation Past Masters, which contains every song the band had commercially released that had not appeared on either the 12 UK studio albums or the US Magical Mystery Tour album, marking its debut on a core catalog release.
On seven occasions during 1963 and 1964, the Beatles recorded “Long Tall Sally” for BBC radio broadcasts in addition to their studio recordings. The compilation albums Live at the BBC (1994) and On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2 (2013) contain two of those versions. On the Anthology 1 compilation (1995), a studio version was also included, prerecorded from the 1964 television special Around the Beatles. A 1964 concert recording of the song is included on the live album The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977).
The Beatles’ “Long Tall Sally” was their last live performance in front of paying audiences. On August 29, 1966, they played it to close out their final show at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, which turned out to be their last. For posterity, the band asked their press officer, Tony Barrow, to tape record the concert. However, the 30-minute tape ran out at the end of the second verse of “Long Tall Sally,” so the last moments of the Beatles’ final live show are lost to time.
Meaning of “Long Tall Sally”
“Long Tall Sally” is an exuberant, upbeat celebration of a fictional woman named Long Tall Sally, who is characterized as tall and physically striking. The lyrics express admiration for her dynamic personality and commanding presence. The song conveys a sense of excitement and joy, emphasizing Long Tall Sally’s ability to captivate and inspire those around her.
While the lyrics focus on Long Tall Sally’s physical attributes, the enduring appeal of the Beatles’ rendition lies in its infectious energy, lively instrumentation, and the charismatic delivery by Paul McCartney, who took on lead vocals for their version. The Beatles’ cover of “Long Tall Sally” became a beloved staple of their live performances and demonstrated their ability to infuse their own style into established rock and roll classics.
- Paul McCartney – vocal, bass
- John Lennon – rhythm guitar, guitar solo (first)
- George Harrison – lead guitar, guitar solo (second)
- Ringo Starr – drums
- George Martin – piano