John Lennon Knew 1 of Buddy Holly’s Songs ‘Backwards’

TL;DR:

  • John Lennon said he would play Buddy Holly’s songs while he was just hanging out.
  • He was more familiar with early rock ‘n’ roll songs than he was with The Beatles’ material.
  • John covered a Holly song and it appeared on a hit album.
The Beatles' John Lennon wearing blue
The Beatles’ John Lennon | Ron Howard/Redferns

John Lennon said he was more familiar with early rock songs than he was with The Beatles’ songs. For example, he said he could play one of Buddy Holly’s songs “backwards.” Notably, John recorded the track for one of his hit albums. He said making the album was costly.

John Lennon liked to play certain songs while he was hanging out

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono includes an interview from 1980. In it, John discussed rock ‘n’ roll. “I remember the old rock songs better than I remember my own songs,” he said. “If I sat down in a room and just started playing, if I had a guitar now and we were just hanging out singing, I would sing all the early and mid-’50s stuff — Buddy Holly and all. I remember those.”

John compared old rock songs to The Beatles’ music. “I don’t remember the chords or the lyrics or anything of the Beatles stuff,” he said. “So my repertoire is that. I still go back to the stuff The Beatles performed before they wrote, you see. I would still enjoy doing it.”

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The former Beatle recorded several songs by Buddy Holly and others over the course of a few days

John covered Holly’s “Peggy Sue” and other classic songs on his album Rock ‘n’ Roll. “So the last five or six tracks—which sound completely different if you ever check the album out — were all done in about four days, you know,” he recalled.

“Two a night, like ‘Peggy Sue’ and others I really knew backwards,” he added. “It cost a fortune in time and energy and it was the most expensive album I ever made.” John incorrectly anticipated that making the album would be relatively easy.

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How John Lennon’s cover of Buddy Holly’s ‘Peggy Sue’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

John’s “Peggy Sue” was never a single, so it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Rock ‘n’ Roll reached No. 6 on the Billboard 200. It remained on the chart for 15 weeks.

According to The Official Charts Company, John’s “Peggy Sue” did not chart in the United Kingdom either. Meanwhile, Rock ‘n’ Roll hit No. 6 in the U.K. There, the album stayed on the chart for 28 weeks.

Even though it wasn’t a hit, John’s “Peggy Sue” is an interesting connection between the former Beatle and Holly.

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