6 Songs You Didn’t Know John Lennon and Paul McCartney Wrote For Other Artists


John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s songwriting partnership extended far beyond their songs for The Beatles. Throughout their career, the duo have written songs for other artists, together and individually, pumping out hits like the Rolling Stones, pop duo Peter & Gordon and even former bandmate Ringo Starr.

Throughout their peak songwriting era, from 1962 to 1970, the duo wrote five hits for pop singer Billy J. Kramer, then with The Dakotas – “From a Window”, “I’ll Be on My Way’, ‘Bad to Me’, ‘I Call Your Name’ and ‘I’ll Keep You Satisfied’ – and other UK bands like Cilla Black, The Fourmost and even gave the Stones a debut.

Although McCartney continued to work with several artists, notably writing “Say Say Say” with Michael Jackson”, and wrote several tracks, including “Veronica”, with Elvis Costello, three albums with The Fireman project with producer Martin Glover (Youth), and his 2014 collaboration with Kanye West for “Only One”.

We’ve selected six specific hits written by Lennon and McCartney, together and individually, for the artists at their particular peak in the 1960s and 1970s.

“I Wanna Be Your Man” by The Rolling Stones (1963)
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Although the Beatles recorded their own version of the song, Lennon and McCartney first gave “I Wanna Be Your Man” to the Rolling Stones. Used as the band’s second single in 1963, “I Wanna Be Your Man” reached No. 12 for the Stones in the UK charts upon release. Initially, Lennon and McCartney wrote the song for Ringo Starr to sing with the Beatles, then later gave it to the Stones after a chance encounter when hitchhiking with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in London. The Rolling Stones had just signed with Decca. “They yelled from the cab and we yelled, ‘Hey, hey, give us a lift, give us a lift,’ and we disappointed them,” McCartney said. “So the four of us were sitting in a cab and I think Mick said, ‘Hey, we’re recording. Do you have any songs? And we said, ‘sure, we have one. And Ringo’s song? You could do it as a single person.

‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ ended up being the first song the Rolling Stones ever performed on the BBC show top pops in 1964. Initially, Lennon and McCartney didn’t think much of the song for themselves, but later recorded it for the Beatles’ second album. With the Beatles.

“I’ll Keep You Satisfied” by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (1963)
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Released by pop singer Billy Kramer and The Dakotas in 1966, “I’ll Keep You Satisfied” is one of many hits written by Lennon and McCartney for the British singer that were never recorded by the Beatles. The song was recorded at Abbey Road Studios on October 14, 1963 with Lennon apparently present during the session. The song reached number four in the UK where it remained for 13 weeks before having to compete with The Beatles, who released “She Loves You” around the same time.

Peter & Gordon’s “Woman” (1966)
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Having already written several songs for the Peter & Gordon pop duo — “I Don’t Want to See Again,” “A World Without Love” and “Nobody I Know” — McCartney and Lennon wanted to write another hit to pair it with. McCartney writing the song under the pseudonym Bernard Webb. In 1966, Peter & Gordon released “Woman”, which peaked at number 14 on the Hot 100 chart. Lennon later wrote a different “woman” for his 1980 album Dual Fantasy, an ode to his wife Yoko Ono. Lennon’s “Woman” was the first single released after his death in 1980.

“Come and Take It” by Badfinger (1970)
Written by Paul McCartney

Written by McCartney for the 1980 black comedy The Magical Christianwith Ringo Starr, Monty Python stars John Cleese and Graham Chapman, Peter Sellers, Raquel Welch, Christopher Lee and more, the song was performed by Badfinger for the film. “Come and Get It” ended up becoming the debut single for Welsh rockers, formerly known as The Iveys in the 60s, and peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100. McCartney had previously recorded a demo of the song for the beatles Abbey Road sessions, and although it never appeared on the band’s 1969 release, their version of “Come and Get It” was featured on the Anthology 3 compiled version of Abbey Road in 1996.

“I Am the Greatest” by Ringo Starr (1973)
Written by John Lennon

Off Ringo Starr’s Third Album ringo in 1973, “I’m The Greatest” marked something of an unofficial Beatles reunion. Lennon, McCartney and Harrison all play on the track, the only time the four Beatles worked together after the group officially broke up in 1970. Individually, the three Beatles also wrote songs for Starr on ringo. Lennon wrote “I’m the Greatest”, while George Harrison co-wrote “Photograph” and “You and Me (Babe)”, and McCartney and his wife Linda wrote “Six O’ Clock” for their friend. Written by Lennon in 1970 shortly after the Beatles’ demise, the song was inspired by the phrase Muhammad Ali often said “I am the greatest”.

“I couldn’t sing it,” John said in 1980. “But it was perfect for Ringo. He could say, “I’m the best,” and people wouldn’t get mad. Whereas if I said “I’m the best” they’d all take it so seriously.” Starr added, “It’s very ironic. Alone [John] could have written it and only I could have sung it.

“Fame” by David Bowie (1975)
Written by John Lennon, David Bowie, Carlos Alomar

Recorded at the Electric Lady Studio in New York, “Fame” became David Bowie’s first North American Hot 100 and Canadian singles chart hit. The final title of Bowie’s ninth album Young Americans in 1975, “Fame” was chosen as the second single and Bowie remixed 15 years later for his Sound + Vision Tour as “Fame ’90”. Co-written with Lennon and James Brown guitarist Carlos Alomar, who also plays on the track, “Fame” tackled the highs and especially the lows of fame and fortune in lyrics inspired by a sour relationship Bowie had. with the old management –Fame (fame) what you love is in the limo / Fame (fame) what you get ain’t tomorrow / Fame (fame) what you need you gotta borrow. “We were talking about management, and it sort of came out of that,” Bowie said of the song’s concept with Lennon in a 2003 interview. ‘ (laughs). It was basically the line. And John was the guy who opened me up to the idea that all management is shit. That there is no good management in rock and roll and that we must try to do without it.

Bowie added: “It was at John’s instigation that I really went without managers and started bringing in people to do specific jobs for me, rather than trusting one guy to always and have him take a slice of everything I earn – usually a pretty big chunk – and really not do much.

Photo: Courtesy of Apple Corps Ltd.


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