The Saints

Highly Appreciated

THE SAINTS (Tony Sheridan and the Beatles)
“When the Saints Go Marching In”,  often referred to as “The Saints”, is an American gospel hymn.  Other early rock artists to follow Fats Domino’s lead included Tony Sheridan (featuring then-unknown band The Beatles as a backing group).  (More from Wikipedia)

The first single that is generally credited to the Beatles is “My Bonnie” b/w “The Saints”; the artist is Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers on the album and the EP, but the single on Polydor Records shows Tony Sheridan and the Beatles.  The Beatles met and befriended Tony Sheridan, a rock and roll singer on their first trip to Hamburg, Germany in 1960; when they returned to Hamburg in 1961, they backed Sheridan as lead singer in a series of recordings.  Since Tony Sheridan later re-recorded several of the songs, the songs that actually feature the Beatles are uncertain in many cases; but it is known that they played on both of these songs.  The single was released in 1961 and reached #26 in the US and #48 in the UK.  


I have an album collecting this music that still hasn’t shown up from the Katrina remains called The Early Years.  It doesn’t sound much like the Beatles after they hit the big time, but I still love that music. 


My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean” is a traditional Scottish folk song that remains popular to this day.  Several other songs by the Beatles were recorded at that time; Anthology 1 includes My Bonnie (but not “The Saints) plus “Ain’t She Sweet” and “Cry for a Shadow” that were made at the same recording session but without Tony Sheridan.  On “Ain’t She SweetJohn Lennon sings lead; this song was a staple in their shows back in 1961.  Cry for a Shadow is a rare instrumental by the Beatles and the only recording ever credited to George Harrison and John Lennon as songwriters.


The flip side of this first Beatles single, When the Saints Go Marching In” could be described as the signature song of New Orleans.  The origin of this gospel song is unknown, but it started being played by jazz bands beginning with Louis Armstrong in 1938.  


(June 2015)


Last edited: March 22, 2021