More Beatles Harmonica [..with tab]

Beatles harpTo the toppermost of the poppermost

Further to our harmonica study of Love Me Do, we should now take a further look at John Lennon’s harmonica recordings with the Beatles.

Not including the harmonica quartet on Sergeant Pepper’s For The Benefit Of Mr.Kite, we have identified at least a dozen Beatles tracks that feature harmonica. To be brutal, most of these are either ‘minor’ pieces from the band’s catalogue or else examples of Lennon’s harmonica work in its unaccomplished state. Rocky Racoon or Little Child for instance have particularly ‘unsophisticated’ harmonica parts. On I’ll Get You, the harmonica is badly out of tune.

What quickly becomes apparent is that John Lennon’s melodic use of the Chromatic harmonica was probably more comfortable than his diatonic work. With the Chromatic he could skilfully sidestep the need for reed bending on the short harp, which was not something he had yet mastered in the early 1960’s. We’ve chosen to help you nail three tunes where John Lennon’s harp lines feature most strongly.. (more…)

Love Me Do – The Beatles [..with tab]

Beatles HarmonicaI’ll always be true, so please, love me do

Much has been written about John Lennon’s harmonica playing with The Beatles. He started playing at a time in the 1960’s when American blues music was taking the UK by storm. Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin Wolf all toured the UK. The Rolling Stones were stiff competition in the popularity stakes, with harmonica work by the multi-talented Brian Jones and many other UK R&B bands followed.

Listen to

Bruce Channel was also touring the UK on the back of his ‘Hey Baby’ hit (many will be more familiar with the 1990’s cover version, famous for its loutish Ooh-Aah chant). With him was Delbert McClinton, the harmonica player on the hit. Legend has it that Delbert McClinton taught John Lennon cross harp while Channel’s band was touring Merseyside. In a later interview however McClinton busts this myth.