According to Mark Lewisohn's "The Beatles Recording Sessions", the song was recorded by The Beatles at Abbey Road Studio Two on Thursday, June 17th, 1965. It was added to the final track lineup for the British Parlophone edition of the Help album. The song was not included on the Canadian Capitol version of the Help LP but was included on the famous butcher LP "Yesterday And Today" issued almost a year later on June 20th, 1966 (Capitol S(T)-2553). The song was issued on the B-side of the Yesterday 45 (Capitol 5498) in Canada on Tuesday, September 7th, 1965. The Canadian single was pressed by Compo at their Cornwall, Ontario plant.
This cover of a Buck Owen's 1963 hit was a great fit for Ringo and was a very inspired move to a new area for The Beatles. Ringo was a fan of Country & Western music and suggested that they try it out. I remember first hearing the 45 in 1965 and wondering whether it was done "tongue in cheek". After listening to many of the other Mersey Beat groups from 1964 and before, Beatles fans can conclude that C&W can be traced to the roots of Mersey Beat itself; it can be heard in the music of Gerry And The Pacemakers "Jambalaya" for example. Ringo was of course playing to his own fans with the zany lyrics.
The Beatles performed the song on an episode of the Ed Sullivan Show aired on Sunday, September 12th, 1965. The coupling of Yesterday with Act Naturally in September 1965 made for one of the very best Beatles couplings of all, and ranks up there with Hey Jude c/w Revolution and Something c/w Come Together. You can't ever really imagine the single without the two sides together. Oddly, the single version of Yesterday was not issued in England on Parlophone until the 1970s.
Paul White included the new Buck Owens Act Naturally single in his weekly Sizzle Sheet for the week ending Friday, March 15th, 1963. In that same newsletter, Paul White was still extolling the greatness of The Beatles' Love Me Do 45 on Canadian Capitol (Capitol 72076) under the section "New Singles To Watch And Play". For Act Naturally, Paul wrote that it was a crossover between the pop and country charts. He was right about that. Note also that The Beach Boys new one that week was "Surfin USA".
The song was credited to two writers, Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison, but in reality the song had been written in 1961 by Johnny Russell. It was not recorded though until the Buck Owen's version in 1963. Buck Owens recorded the song at the Capitol Recording Studios in Hollywood on Tuesday, February 12th, 1963.
Act Naturally is quite different from the other covers because it was the "newest' of the covers the Beatles would record on disc while they were recording as The Beatles for Parlophone and Capitol in the 1960s.
In fact, Act Naturally was on the "Country & Western" charts in Canada in the summer of 1963, after the Beatles had issued their first Parlophone LP in England, and after they had already issued two singles on Capitol Records Of Canada.
Canada had a very strong Country & Western following and the singles by C&W artists like Hank Snow and Jim Reeves were huge sellers for RCA in Canada in the 1950s. CFGM AM 1310 Toronto was one of a very few radio stations in Canada in 1963 that was devoted to Country Music. They published "Toronto's OFFICIAL Country Music Survey". For the week ending July 16th, 1963, CFGM charted Buck Owen's Act Naturally at number 10. The single had been at number 9 the week before.
CFGM AM 1310 Toronto - Country Gentlemens Music Survey -Week Ending July 16th, 1963
1. Abilene, George Hamilton IV, RCA Victor
2. Ring Of Fire, Johnny Cash, Columbia
3. Six Days On The Road, Dave Dudley, Apex
4. Old Showboat / A Toast To The Bride, Stonewall Jackson, Columbia
5. Sweet Dreams, Patsy Cline, Decca
6. We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds, George Jones And Melba Montgomey, Columbia
7. Detroit City, Bobby Bare, RCA Victor
8. Building A Bridge, Claude King, Columbia
9. Sands Of Gold, Webb Pierce, Decca
10. Act Naturally, Buck Owens, Capitol
11. Down To The River, Rose Maddox, Capitol
From the top 11 discs listed above, the Buck Owens single was in the company of some great C&W records in the summer of 1963. Capitol Of Canada would have some great success with their roster of C&W artists in the 1960s.
The Canadian Capitol 45 by Buck Owens was pressed in early to mid March 1963 by RCA Victor in Smiths Falls, Ontario using metal parts shipped up to Canada from Capitol's east-coast plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Oddly the record was pressed at the same plant as the Beatles' Love Me Do 45which had been pressed there during the previous month. The Canadian 45, as seen below, shows the mustard yellow colour that is seen also on the original first-run 1963 copies of Love Me Do and Please Please Me.
The song did not appear on a Buck Owens album until June 1964 when it appeared on the album "The Best Of Buck Owens" which was issued in Canada on the Star Line label as follows:
Capitol T-2105 - The Best Of Buck Owens (black label with silver print). MONO only, June 1964 (Side 2, Track 1)
The song would appear later in stereo on a second volume, also on the same Star Line label:
Capitol ST-2897 - Best Of Buck Owens Vol. 2, And His Buckaroos (black label with silver print), STEREO only, April 1968 (Side 1, Track 3). Note - collectors should seek out this excellent stereo recording of Act Naturally which is far superior to the 1964 mono LP version.
Both of these albums are excellent introductions to the great songs of Buck Owens.
Here is Buck with his Buckaroos doing the song (not tongue in cheek) on The Jimmy Dean TV Show (episode TBD) from perhaps the summer or fall of 1963. The lame suits went along with the space age !
Act Naturally was a great success for Ringo. Yeah Ringo ! But the Beatles would do no more cover versions until they performed in a number of cover versions for the Get Back project in 1969 .. more on those Get Back sessions covers later ... coming soon. Stay tuned to Capitol6000.com !