Twist and Shout

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"Twist and Shout"
Twist and Shout by The Top Notes B-side US vinyl label.jpg
B-side label of the US single
Single by The Top Notes
A-side "Always Late (Why Lead Me On)"
Released 1961
Format 7-inch single
Recorded February 23, 1961
Studio Atlantic Studios, New York City
Genre Rock and roll, R&B
Length 2:05
Label Atlantic (45-2115)
Songwriter(s) Bert Berns, Phil Medley
Producer(s) Phil Spector
The Top Notes singles chronology
"Hearts of Stone"
"Twist and Shout"
"Wait For Me Baby"

"Twist and Shout" is a 1961 song written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns (later credited as "Bert Russell"). The song was originally recorded by the Top Notes. It first became a chart hit as a cover single by the Isley Brothers in 1962. The song has since been covered by several artists, including the Beatles on their first album Please Please Me (1963), as well as the Tremeloes in 1962 and the Who in 1970 and 1984.

The Top Notes[edit]

In 1961, one year after Phil Spector became a staff producer at Atlantic Records, he was asked to produce a single by an up-and-coming vocal group, The Top Notes. This was before Spector perfected his "Wall of Sound" technique, and the recording, at the Atlantic Studios on February 23, 1961, arranged by Teddy Randazzo with musicians including saxophonist King Curtis, guitarist John Pizzarelli, and drummer Panama Francis, with backing vocals by the Cookies,[1] lacked much of the energy the Top Notes exhibited in their live performances.[2]

The Top Notes included singers Howard "Howie" Guyton (also known as Guy Howard), a cousin of Dave "Baby" Cortez; and Derek Martin, also known as Derek Ray.[3] Guyton provided the lead vocals on "Twist and Shout".[4] Guyton, Martin and Cortez had previously all been members of vocal groups the Pearls (also known as the Five Pearls) in their home city of Detroit, and then of the Sheiks in New York;[3] and Guyton and Martin later recorded as members of Jimmy Ricks & the Raves. Derek Martin later recorded a succession of singles, mostly on the Roulette label, in the 1960s and early 1970s, including a version of Otis Blackwell's "Daddy Rollin' Stone", before moving to live in France where he has continued to perform.[5][6][7] Guyton later sang in a touring version of the Platters, and died of a heart attack in 1977, aged 39, while touring in Argentina.[8][9]

Songwriter Bert Berns felt Spector had ruined the song, and went out to show Spector how it should be done.[10]

The Isley Brothers[edit]

"Twist and Shout"
Twist and Shout by The Isley Brothers US vinyl 1962.jpg
A-side label of the US single
Single by The Isley Brothers
B-side "Spanish Twist"
Released June 16, 1962
Format 7-inch single
Recorded New York City, 1962
Genre Rock and roll, R&B
Length 2:27
Label Wand (653)
Songwriter(s) Phil Medley, Bert Russell
Producer(s) Bert Russell
The Isley Brothers singles chronology
"Twist and Shout"
"Twistin' With Linda"

When the Isley Brothers decided to record the song in 1962, Bert Berns (who also used the name Bert Russell) opted to produce, and thus demonstrate to Spector what he had intended to be the "sound" of the record.[10] The resulting recording captured the verve of an Isley Brothers performance, and became the trio's first record to reach a Top 20 position in the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

The Isley Brothers' version, with Ronald Isley on lead vocals, was the first major hit recording of the song, peaking at No. 17 on the U.S. pop top 40 charts, and No. 2 on the US R&B charts. The song quickly became a frequently covered R&B tune in the early 1960s. According to Ronald, the song was supposed to be the B-side to the Burt Bacharach standard, "Make It Easy on Yourself", which had been a hit for Jerry Butler. When the Isleys recorded "Twist and Shout", the brothers did not think the song would do well, as they had not had a hit in the three years since "Shout" established them. To their surprise, it became their first Top 40 hit on both the pop and R&B charts, and for a time established the group's reputation for producing fast-paced songs during their earlier career.


The Beatles' version[edit]

"Twist and Shout"
Song by the Beatles
from the album Please Please Me
Released March 22, 1963
Format LP record
Recorded February 11, 1963
Studio EMI, London
Genre Rock and roll
Length 2:32
Label Parlophone
Songwriter(s) Phil Medley, Bert Russell
Producer(s) George Martin

Released on the Beatles' first UK album, Please Please Me (1963), the complete recording of which on February 11, 1963, was their first album session and is notable for 10 songs recorded in a mere 13 hours. "Twist and Shout", with John Lennon on lead vocals, was the last song recorded; producer George Martin knew Lennon's voice would suffer from the performance, so he left it until last, with only 15 minutes of scheduled recording time remaining.

Lennon was suffering from a cold, and was drinking milk and sucking on cough drops to soothe his throat. His coughing is audible on the album, as is the cold's effect on his voice. Even so, he produced a memorable vocal performance: a raucous, dynamic rocker. He later said his voice was not the same for a long time afterward, and that "every time [he] swallowed, it felt like sandpaper".[11]

A second take was attempted, but Lennon had nothing left and it was abandoned.[12] George Martin said, "I did try a second take ... but John's voice had gone."[13]

Released as a single in the US on March 2, 1964, with "There's a Place" as its B-side,[14] by Chicago-based Vee-Jay Records on the Tollie label, it reached number 2 on April 4, 1964, during the week that the top five places on the chart were all Beatles singles (in the Cashbox singles chart for the same week, "Twist and Shout" was No. 1). In the United States, "Twist and Shout" was the only million-selling Beatles single that was a cover record, and the only Beatles cover single to reach the Top 10 on a national record chart. The song failed to hit #1 because the Beatles had another song occupying the top spot, "Can't Buy Me Love".

In the UK, "Twist and Shout" was released by Parlophone on an EP with three other tracks, "Do You Want to Know a Secret", "A Taste of Honey", and "There's a Place", from the Please Please Me (1963) album. Both the EP and album reached No. 1 (see Twist and Shout (EP)). In Canada, it became the title track to the second album of Beatles material to be issued by Capitol Records of Canada, on February 3, 1964.

It is regarded as one of the finest examples of British rock and roll for its vocal performance.[15] The song was used as a rousing closing number on Sunday Night at the London Palladium in October 1963 and at The Royal Variety Show in November 1963, the former signalling the start of "Beatlemania"; the latter was included on the Anthology 1 compilation album in 1995. In addition, the group performed it on one of their Ed Sullivan Show appearances in February 1964.

The Beatles continued to play the song live until the end of their August 1965 tour of North America. Additionally, they recorded "Twist and Shout" on nine occasions for BBC television and radio broadcasts, the earliest of which was for the Talent Spot radio show on November 27, 1962. The intro sounds very similar to "La Bamba" by Ritchie Valens, and the famous vocal buildup resembles that in "Do You Love Me" by the Contours.

1986 recharting[edit]

The song enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in 1986 after Matthew Broderick lip-synced to the Beatles' version of it in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Coincidentally, the Rodney Dangerfield film Back to School (released two days after Ferris) also featured the song, this one sung by Dangerfield himself and patterned after the Beatles' arrangement. The use in the two films helped propel the single up the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at No. 23 late that summer, giving the group their second chart single of the 1980s (the other being "The Beatles Movie Medley" in 1982).[16] The song's seven-week run in the U.S. Top 40 in 1986, combined with its original 16-week run in 1964, makes "Twist and Shout" the longest-running Top 40 hit for the Beatles, at 23 weeks. Its overall chart longevity, combined with its original four-week run at #2, statistically makes it the Beatles' second most successful single in the U.S. next to "Hey Jude".

2010 UK chart entry[edit]

In November 2010, 47 years after its recording, the Beatles' version of "Twist and Shout" made a debut on the UK Singles Chart. The highest charting Beatles track in the aftermath of their new availability on iTunes, it entered the charts at #48 in the first of a two-week run.


Engineered by Norman Smith[17][better source needed]

Charts and certifications[edit]


Chart (1964) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[18] 5
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[19] 9
Norway (VG-lista)[20] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[21] 2
US Cash Box Top 100[22] 1
West German Media Control Singles Chart[23] 10
Chart (1986) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[21] 23
Chart (2010) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[24] 48


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[25] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

The Who's version[edit]

"Twist & Shout"
Single by The Who
from the album The Isle of Wight Festival and Who's Last
B-side "I Can't Explain"
Released 1970 and November 1984
Format 7"
Recorded December 17, 1982
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada
Genre Rock
Label MCA Records
Songwriter(s) Phil Medley and Bertrand Russell Berns
Producer(s) David "Cyrano" Langston
The Who singles chronology
"It's Hard"
"Twist & Shout"
"Real Good Looking Boy"
"It's Hard"
"Twist and Shout (live)"
"Real Good Looking Boy"

English rock band the Who covered the song live during their career, with Roger Daltrey singing lead vocals on the first version which is on the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, and on their 1982 Farewell Tour,[26] with their bassist John Entwistle singing the lead vocals. The 1982 version can be heard on the live album Who's Last (recorded at the Richfield Coliseum on December 14, 1982 and released in November 1984), Live From Toronto (recorded at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on December 17, 1982 and released in 2006), as well as on the 1994 compilation Thirty Years of Maximum R&B (recorded at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on December 16, 1982, misdated in the liner notes for the concert at Toronto's CNE stadium on October 9, 1982).

Brian Poole and the Tremeloes' version[edit]

In 1962 the Decca label signed Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, a British group from Dagenham, East London, in preference to the Beatles. Both groups auditioned on the same day, and it has become legend that the Beatles were rejected by the label. Ironically, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes had no chart success until the beat boom in British rock surfaced, following the success of the Beatles. This triggered the frenzied signing of most of the popular Liverpool rock groups of that period by the major record labels, and their distinctive "sound" became known as Merseybeat. Brian Poole and the Tremeloes imitated this style, and covered "Twist and Shout" four months after the Beatles had released their version, and achieved the number four position in the UK Singles Chart.[27]

Other cover versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Joel Selvin (2014-04-15). Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of ... p. 369. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  2. ^ Cad, Saint. "Top 10 Famous Songs With Unknown Originals". Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b ]Andrew Hamilton. "The Pearls | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  4. ^ Bob Leszczak. Who Did It First?: Great Rhythm and Blues Cover Songs and Their Original Artists. p. 228. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  5. ^ Steve Leggett. "Derek Martin | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-14. 
  7. ^ "topnotes". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  8. ^ Mitch Rosalsky. Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop Vocal Groups. p. 436. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ a b "The Atlantic Story". Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  11. ^ The Beatles. The Beatles Anthology. Chronicle Books, LLC, 2000.
  12. ^ Ian MacDonald, "Revolution in the Head"
  13. ^ Mark Lewisohn, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions
  14. ^ "USA Discography". Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  15. ^ Ian Macdonald, Revolution in the Head, p.67
  16. ^ Whitburn, Joel The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, Billboard Books, New York, 1992
  17. ^ "Twist and Shout". The Beatles Bible. Retrieved November 15, 2013. 
  18. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book (1940–1969). Turramurra: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-44439-5. 
  19. ^ " – The Beatles – Twist and Shout" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  20. ^ " – The Beatles – Twist and Shout". VG-lista. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  21. ^ a b "The Beatles – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for The Beatles. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  22. ^ Hoffmann, Frank (1983). The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950-1981. Metuchen, NJ & London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 32–34. 
  23. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts" (Enter "Beatles" in the search box) (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved May 16, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Archive Chart: 2010-27-11" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  25. ^ "American single certifications – The Beatles – Twist and Shout". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 14, 2016.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  26. ^ "Live Performance". YouTube. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  27. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 565. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  28. ^ Lindsay Planer. "The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits - The Chipmunks | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  29. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Carnegie Hall Concert - Buck Owens | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  30. ^ Brown, Tony, Jon Kutner & Neil Warwick, The Complete Book of the British Charts: Singles and Albums, Omnibus Press, London, 2002

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Mr Blobby" by Mr Blobby
UK Singles Chart Number 1 single by Chaka Demus and Pliers
January 2, 1994 for 2 weeks
Succeeded by
"Things Can Only Get Better" by D:Ream