Help Me, Rhonda

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"Help Me, Ronda"
Song by The Beach Boys from the album Today!
Released March 8, 1965
Recorded track: January 8, 1965
vocals: January 19, 1965
Genre Rock
Length 3:04
2:46 (single version)
Label Capitol
Writer Brian Wilson/Mike Love
Producer Brian Wilson
Today! track listing
"Help Me, Rhonda"
Single by The Beach Boys
from the album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)
B-side "Kiss Me, Baby"
Released April 5, 1965
Format Vinyl
Recorded February 24, 1965
Genre Rock
Length 2:46
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Brian Wilson
Mike Love
Producer(s) Brian Wilson
The Beach Boys singles chronology
"Do You Wanna Dance?"
(1965)
"Help Me, Rhonda"
(1965)
"California Girls"
(1965)
Audio sample
file info · help
Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) track listing

"Help Me, Rhonda" is a song written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love for their American rock band the Beach Boys. Originally released as "Help Me, Ronda" in March 1965 on The Beach Boys Today!, it was later revised for single release. The single version titled "Help Me, Rhonda" peaked at number one in the United States making it the second Beach Boys single to reach that position after "I Get Around" in 1964. The single version was later released on the Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) album in June, 1965.

"Help Me, Rhonda" was the first single to feature a lead vocal by Al Jardine and typically compilations use the "Rhonda" single version.

The lyrics of "Help Me, Rhonda" tell a narrative of how a male was attracted to a girl who then found another man, and so to aid the healing process, he begs Rhonda to help him. Before a concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Brian Wilson revealed, "There is no Rhonda."[1]

Recording[edit]

The original version was recorded over two dates at Western Recording Studios in Hollywood on January 8 and 19, 1965, with Chuck Britz as the engineer and production by Brian Wilson. There is a similarity between "Help Me Ronda" from the Beach Boys and the tune "Fannie Mae" by Buster Brown which charted number one in the R&B chart of 1960.

The instrumental track has Carl Wilson, Bill Pitman, and Glen Campbell on guitar, Billy Strange on ukulele, Ray Pohlman on bass guitar, Leon Russell on piano, Hal Blaine on drums and timbales, Julius Wechter on claves, Billy Lee Riley on harmonica, Steve Douglas and Plas Johnson on tenor saxophone, and Jay Migliori on baritone saxophone. Al Jardine sang the lead vocal with backing vocals by Carl, Dennis and Brian Wilson, and Mike Love.

This recording session was interrupted by the Wilson brothers' drunken father, Murry, who criticized the Boys' enthusiasm. His criticisms drove Brian Wilson to the breaking point and Brian screamed an expletive, removed his headphones and confronted his father. Shortly after defending his actions, Murry Wilson left the studio and The Beach Boys continued. The recording reel continued to record the confrontation, which circulates among fans.[2]

The song was originally considered an album cut but radio stations began to play it and Brian decided to rework and re-record it. The single was recorded at Universal and Radio Recorders studios in Hollywood on February 24, 1965, again with Britz as the engineer and Brian Wilson as producer. Featured on the instrumental track were regular Wrecking Crew members such as Hal Blaine on drums and Carol Kaye on bass guitar. Beach Boys who contributed to the instrumental track were Carl Wilson (guitar) and Brian Wilson (acoustic piano and Hammond B-3). The single version once again features Al Jardine on lead vocals with backing vocals by Carl, Dennis and Brian Wilson, and Mike Love.

Alternate versions[edit]

The first version appears on the 1965 album Today! as "Help Me, Ronda". This recording runs over three minutes with no guitar solo, has a number of false, fade in/fade out endings, and, instead of the song starting with Jardine's vocal, there is a brief ukelele intro. It is included on the Endless Summer compilation album (though the back album cover lists the song as "Help Me, Rhonda").

The single version, which is taken at a slightly quicker tempo, starts off with Jardine's vocal and features a changed lyric ("ruined our plans" from the previous version is changed to "shattered our plans"). The single was released on April 5, 1965. In addition to topping the charts in the US, the single reached #1 in Canada (on the RPM national chart), #5 in Sweden, #10 in Germany and Australia, #2 in Singapore, #3 in The Philippines, #5 in Hong Kong and #9 in Ireland. It peaked at 27 in the United Kingdom.

The new single was included on the album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), released June 28, 1965. The instrumental backing of this version was released in 1990 as a bonus track on the CD reissue of the band's 1968 Stack-O-Tracks album.

A slight variation, "Help Me, Rhonda (Alternate Single Version)", is on the 1998 Endless Harmony Soundtrack album. This adds a wordless falsetto from Brian Wilson over the chorus.

Live versions[edit]

After becoming The Beach Boys' second number one in the United States, it became a regular in the live set. It has been on two Beach Boys live albums: 1973's The Beach Boys in Concert and Good Timin': Live at Knebworth England 1980. The song was also released by Brian Wilson on his 2000 live album Live at the Roxy Theatre. The song was performed by Ricky Martin at 2001's "An All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson".

The Beach Boys performed the version with the Grateful Dead on 4/27/71 at the Fillmore East in New York City. The venue closed a few months later. The Beach Boys sang the vocals while Garcia added his own touch to a one-time collaboration.

During the early 70's The Beach Boys began to change the lead vocalist on the song as both Carl and Dennis Wilson performed the lead during this time. However this experiment was brief as Al Jardine one again permanently took over lead vocals in 1974 until he left the group in 1998 when briefly Phil Bardowell and then John Cowsill took over the lead. However for the bands 50th Anniversary tour Jardine once again took the lead on his "signature song".

Cover versions[edit]

Roy Orbison recorded the song for his 1970 album "The Big O".

Johnny Rivers' cover in 1975 on his New Lovers And Old Friends album (with an assist from Brian Wilson on back-up vocals) reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Jan & Dean and the Bel-Air Bandits covered the song on their 1982 album One Summer Night/Live [3]

A slow, reflective cover appears on the 1998 album Toxic Swamp And Other Love Songs by Kenny Young And The Eggplants.

Kevin Max's cover appeared on the album "Making God Smile: An Artists' Tribute to the Songs of Beach Boy Brian Wilson" in 2006.

Al Jardine recorded a cover with Steve Miller in 2010 for his solo album, A Postcard from California.

The Rämouns, a German Ramones Tribute Band, recorded a cover in 2009 for the album "Rockaway Beach Boys".

Parody[edit]

Christian parody band ApologetiX did a parody of the song called "Help Me, Rhoda" for their debut album Isn't Wasn't Ain't.

In popular culture[edit]

  • On the 80s sitcom Alf and the spinoff cartoon series. Alf's girlfriend from his home planet Melmac was named Rhonda as a reference to this song.
  • The song appeared in the 1988 comedy film Short Circuit 2 to help Ben and Fred escape a freezer they were locked in.
  • In the 1997 remake of That Darn Cat, the song is used to help Patti Randall figure out the riddle of the "Hell" watch realizing the message really means, "Help".
  • In an episode of Seinfeld, "The Soul Mate", Jerry says, "Oh, help me Rhonda", in response to George's comment that his boss believes George killed Susan.
  • One episode of season one of the CW series 90210 is titled "Help Me Rhonda". The episode is centered over a guest appearance of a character with that name.
  • In the Full House episode, "Beach Boy Bingo", Danny, Joey and Jesse try to win Beach Boys tickets from a "name that song" contest on the radio. 3 seconds of Help me Rhonda is played and unknown to them, DJ is on the phone trying to win the same contest. She doesn't know the song title so she looks over to friend Kimmy Gibbler and says "Help me, Gibbler!" in which the host asks to repeat the answer. She immediately says "Help me.." and Danny, Joey and Jesse run in and shout "RHONDA"
  • In the Full House episode, "Road To Tokyo", Jesse tries to sing the song in Japanese, but then his interpreter drops the cue cards and Jesse improvises by naming Japanese related stuff (Honda, Godzilla, etc.) instead.
  • In "Psych" season 2, episode 12 "The Old and the Restless" Shawn alludes to this song by saying "Help me, help me, help me..Rhonda!".
  • In season 1, episode 9 of The Newsroom Will McAvoy tells his therapist that he has been visiting a self-help website named "Help Me Rhonda".
  • In the 2012 film Mud, Neckbone notes with some amusement that his layabout uncle (played by Michael Shannon) always plays the song when getting intimate with a woman.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Ticket to Ride" by The Beatles
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
May 29, 1965
(2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Back in My Arms Again" by The Supremes