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  • Paul McCartney said he stole The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” riff from Chuck Berry.
  • He said he gave Berry credit even though Berry is not listed as a co-writer.
  • Paul discussed what he thought of the lyrics to “Johnny B. Goode.”
The Beatles in suits during the "I Saw Her Standing There" era
The Beatles’ Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Paul McCartney stole the bassline of The Beatles‘ “I Saw Her Standing There” from Chuck Berry. He said “I Saw Her Standing There” proved basslines didn’t have to be original. Subsequently, Paul revealed what The Beatles thought of Berry as a songwriter.

Paul McCartney discussed what he felt about playing bass guitar for The Beatles

During a 1994 interview with MusicRadar, Paul said he had to learn to play bass guitar in a complex way “to come back, that’s right, to come back to the nice simple stuff,” he said. “But as I say, I became very proud to be the bass player in The Beatles.

“The other thing for me that was hard was because some of these parts were independent melodic parts, it became much more difficult to sing, it was like doing this [pats his head and rubs his stomach],” he added.

Paul McCartney said The Beatles’ ‘I Saw Her Standing there’ stole from Chuck Berry’s ‘I’m Talking About You’

Paul discussed the origin of “I Saw Her Standing There.” “If you were singing ‘She was just 17‘ and going [sings energetic bassline], well … that became the skill, I could just learn [sings ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ bassline], nicked from Chuck Berry as I’m sure you know, ‘I’m Talking About You,'” he said. “I’ve given him credit, though.” For context, Berry is not credited as a co-writer on “I Saw Her Standing There.”

According to the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, Paul previously admitted to stealing the bassline of “I’m Talking About You” for “I Saw Her Standing There” during an interview with the magazine Beat Instrumental. “I played exactly the same notes as he did and it fitted our number perfectly,” he said. “Even now, when I tell people about it, I find few of them believe me. Therefore I maintain that a bass riff doesn’t have to be original.”


John Lennon Said 1 Beatles Song Was a Cross Between ‘Paperback Writer’ and Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’

How Paul McCartney paid tribute to Chuck Berry following the ‘Run Rudolph Run’ singer’s death

Paul remained a huge fan of Berry’s. Paul posted a tribute to Berry on his website following the “Run Rudolph Run” singer’s death in 2017. He called Berry a poet and said he would be mourned by everyone who loved rock ‘n’ roll.

Paul said The Beatles became fans of Berry when they heard the guitar intro to “Sweet Little Sixteen,” and praised the lyrics of “Johnny B. Goode” and “Maybellene.” To The Beatles, Berry seemed like a magician who made “exotic” music. He said The Beatles would not have been the same without Berry’s influence. Paul cherished his memory of meeting Berry in St. Louis.

“I Saw Her Standing There” is one of The Beatles’ most beloved early songs even if it’s not totally original.