Throughout the Quarrymen/Beatles' existence, they played a total of at least 11 Carl Perkins songs in live show repertoire (as dictated in Lewisohn, page 362-65), listed here in approximate chronological order.
- "Tennessee", 1957-61
- "Blue Suede Shoes", 1957-62
- "Sure to Fall (in Love with You)", 1957-62
- "Lend Me Your Comb", 1957-63
- "Your True Love", 1958-62
- "Boppin' the Blues", 1959-62
- "Glad All Over", 1960-62
- "Matchbox", 1960-62
- "Gone, Gone, Gone", 1960-62
- "Everybody's Trying to be my Baby", 1961-65
- "Honey Don't", 1962-65
The Beatles officially recorded and released "Honey Don't", "Everybody's Trying to be my Baby", and "Matchbox", all in 1964.
"Lend Me Your Comb" is particularly interesting because the Beatles borrowed a distinctive chord progression from it for use in "Please Please Me". Both songs are in E major and use the chords G-A-B (underlined below):
“Lend Me Your Comb”
B E G A B E
I gotta confess my hair is a mess.
E: V I bIII IV V I
“Please Please Me”
E A E G A B E
Last night I said these words to my girl
E: I IV I bIII IV V I
Furthermore, the Beatles were clearly conscious of the 'borrowing' because "Lend Me Your Comb" had been in their repertoire since 1957. Two different recordings exist of the Beatles covering "Lend Me Your Comb" on three different albums: Anthology 1 and On Air - Live at the BBC, Volume 2 both include a live recording from 2 July 1963...
Well how come you say you will when you won't? Say you do, baby, when you don't?
Let me know honey how you feel. Tell the truth now, is love real?
Even though the Beatles recorded "It Won't Be Long" a year prior to recording "Honey Don't", the Perkins number had been in their repertoire since 1962, and thus very likely inspired the same progression in the Beatles' number.
"It Won't Be Long"
E C E C E
Every night when everybody has fun, Here am I sitting all on my own.
I bVI I bVI I
Two years later, "Eleanor Rigby" would use something similar.
C e C e
Ah, look at all the lonely people. Ah, look at all the lonely people
bVI i bVI i
Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
The only difference here is the use of an e minor chord instead of an E major chord.
Another Perkins cover to appear on the album Live at the BBC is "Sure to Fall (in Love with You)".
Perkins' ultimate strength as a musician was as a guitarist. He helped define the Rockabilly guitar sound with his solos. It is no surprise, then, that despite influencing all four Beatles, Perkins was ultimately more influential on the Beatles' lead guitarist, George Harrison, than the other band members. George plays a Nashville-esque, Perkins-style solo on "All My Loving". Harrison's enthusiasm and respect for Carl Perkins can also be seen from the stage names adopted by the Beatles during their 20-28 May 1960 tour backing Johnny Gentle. Quoting Paul: "Now we were truly professional, we could do something we had been toying with for a long time, which was to change our names to real showbiz names. I became Paul Ramon, which I though was suitably exotic. ... George became Carl Harrison after Carl Perkins" (Anthology, page 44). Where Little Richard primarily influenced Paul McCartney, and Gene Vincent primarily influenced John Lennon, Carl Perkins primarily influenced George Harrison.
Beatles. The Beatles Anthology. Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco, CA, 2000.
Lewisohn, Mark. The Complete Beatles Chronicle. Pyramid Books, an imprint of Octopus Publishing Group Limited, London, UK, 2006.