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
2:46 (single version)
|Writer||Brian Wilson/Mike Love|
|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|
|Recorded||February 24, 1965|
|The Beach Boys singles chronology|
"Help Me, Rhonda" is a song by American rock band the Beach Boys written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love. Originally released as "Help Me, Ronda" in March 1965 on The Beach Boys Today!, an alternate take was used for its 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 Beach Boys single to feature a lead vocal by Al Jardine.
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, writer and composer Brian Wilson revealed that Rhonda was not based on anyone in real life.
The original version was recorded over two dates at United Western Recorders in Hollywood on January 8 and 19, 1965, with Chuck Britz as the engineer and production by Brian Wilson. 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 to the breaking point; Brian screamed expletives, removed his headphones, and confronted his father. Shortly after defending his actions, Murry left the studio and the Beach Boys continued. The recording reel continued to record the confrontation, which circulates among fans.
"Help Me, Ronda" 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. The song was originally considered an album cut, but radio stations began to play it, which inspired Brian to rework its arrangement for a single release.
"Help Me, Rhonda" was recorded at Universal and Radio Recorders studios in Hollywood on February 24, 1965, again with Britz as the engineer and Brian 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 (guitar) and Brian (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.
"Help Me, Rhonda" 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 first version appears on the 1965 album Today! as "Help Me, Ronda". It is included on the Endless Summer compilation album (though the back album cover lists the song as "Help Me, Rhonda"). The single version 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. It was then 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.
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 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".
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The song was performed by Ricky Martin at 2001's "An All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson".
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.
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.
The Rämouns, a German Ramones Tribute Band, recorded a cover in 2009 for the album Rockaway Beach Boys.
- Will, George F. (2012-06-20). "The Beach Boys still get around". Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
- WFMU's Beware of the Blog: I'm A Genius, Too! The Murry Wilson Tapes
- "Jan and Dean's Discography Original Albums 2". Jananddean.com. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
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