The Beatles’ Puzzling Decision to Drop ‘Leave My Kitten Alone’ From Their 4th Album

When fans of The Beatles debate which Fab Four record was the best, we doubt you hear anyone make a case for Beatles For Sale (1964). The album, recorded during the peak of Beatlemania and featuring tracks such as “Mr. Moonlight,” looks like the opposite of a greatest-hits record these days.

Even the memorable songs on Beatles For Sale showed a chink or two in the band’s armor. Take “I’ll Follow the Sun,” the Paul McCartney-penned classic. After George Harrison demanded he take the guitar solo, he played a lead line engineer Geoff Emerick later called “downright embarrassing.”

“There was a lousy period when we didn’t seem to have any material for the LP and didn’t have a single,” John Lennon said at the time (in an interview published in Beatles Anthology). Eventually, they filled the void with “Eight Days a Week” and had their album.

However, Beatles For Sale went out with six cover songs and included several forgettable tracks. For that reason, fans and critics alike have wondered why the group scrapped the energetic “Leave My Kitten Alone.” In later years, the cover song became a lost Beatles gem.

‘Leave My Kitten Alone’ featured a powerhouse John Lennon vocal and strong guitar solo

John Lennon rehearsing for 'Ed Sullivan'
The Beatles rehearse for their final performance on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, 1965. Image dated August 14, 1965. | CBS via Getty Images

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While there were songs The Beatles happily buried in the EMI vaults over the years (e.g., “If You’ve Got Trouble”), that didn’t seem to be the case with “Leave My Kitten Alone.” Paul recalled the Little Willie John track as one the Fab Four covered since their Liverpool days.

As for the band’s ’64 rendition, you can hear the tightness of those Cavern Club days in their work. There’s nothing hesitant or half-baked about anyone’s part, and George’s lead work shines from the rocking start through the impressive guitar solo.

But, as with so many Beatles songs, it’s John’s knockout lead vocal that pushes “Leave My Kitten Alone” over the top. After warming up with the early verses, he starts belting and dropping falsetto lines in the chorus.

Once George ends his solo, John returns with fully shouted vocals. And he doesn’t let up until the song fades out. All things considered, this track puts Beatles For Sale cuts like “Mr. Moonlight” and “Honey Don’t” to shame.

Beatles experts and fans continue to puzzle over the fate of ‘Leave My Kitten Alone’

The Beatles at a table stocked with beer
The Beatles pose behind a table of beer bottles and glasses, circa 1965. | Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns

After not making the cut for Beatles For Sale, “Leave My Kitten Alone” stayed in the vaults for another 30 years. Aside from bootlegs, it wasn’t until the first volume of the Anthology project (1995) that fans got to hear this lost gem.

As to why “Leave My Kitten Alone” stayed out of sight for so long, no one seems to have an answer. Looking through the album, you can see why they’d want to leave “Honey Don’t” and “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby,” both of which pale in comparison.

In the case of “Honey Don’t,” it’s likely the band wanted to get a Ringo vocal on the record after leaving him off A Hard Day’s Night. You could argue the same for “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby,” which represented George’s allotted song on Beatles For Sale.

That still doesn’t explain how “Mr. Moonlight” (horrendous organ solo and all) made the cut over “Leave My Kitten Alone.” While both featured strong Lennon vocals, there’s no contest as to which is the better track.

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