Errata and addenda to
"How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll"

In any book of this length and breadth--or at least any I am likely to write--there are bound to be errors. I will try to correct as many as possible in future printings and editions, and in the meantime wanted to address them here. If you come across anything in the book that needs to be corrected or explained, please let me know. (My email is elijah at

Page 23: Exploring the thought that without recording we would not be able to trace precisely what relationship Elvis's version of "Hound Dog" bore to Big Mama Thornton's, I give an oversimplified and inaccurate description of the song's evolution. When I wrote that his version differed "either because he remembered it wrong or because it had already evolved" and that "as far as anyone knows, it was just a poorly remembered version of the same song," that reflected my own ignorance at the time of writing: I knew that Elvis had picked up the song after hearing Freddie Bell and the Bellboys performing it live in Las Vegas, and assumed that he had based his version on the memory of that live performance. In fact, Bell had recorded "Hound Dog," and Elvis's version is a direct cover of that record (though superior in every way). And the shift in lyrics between Thornton's and Bell's versions were not a matter of happenstance, but rather were due to Bernard Lowe's request that Bell provide cleaned-up lyrics to the Leiber-Stoller original. My broader point--that we wouldn't know all of this without recording, and that the song was still considered a version of Leiber and Stoller's piece rather than Bell's creation--holds, but in future revisions I'll make sure to get the details right.

Page 55: After mentioning Bill Johnson, the bass player and leader of the Creole Band, I have a parentheses in which I inexplicably refer to him as "Robinson." I have no idea how this happened.

Page 129: My chronology on Fred Waring is misleading. I write as if he stopped recording to avoid competition with radio play of his own records after losing his 1935 suit, but in fact his recording strike began in 1932 and the suit was a later battle in the same war.

Page 161: I refer to "a French tango, 'Jalousie'," but the music scholar Tom Bingham writes me that despite the French title it is in fact a Danish tango composed by Jacobus (or Jacob) Gade.

Page 164: I write that "Cry," the huge hit for Johnnie Ray in 1951, "had first been recorded by a black singer named Ruth Casey." Casey's parents were Irish; I'm guessing the internet didn't yet have the info and I just assumed Ray was covering a Black artist.

Page 239: I wrote "the 1965 Newport Folk Festival—at which Dylan famously went electric—presented [Paul] Butterfield, [Howling] Wolf, and [Chuck] Berry alongside acoustic elders like Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, and the Reverend Gary Davis." Butterfield did play Newport that year, and Lightnin' Hopkins and the Chambers Brothers did electric sets... but Wolf didn't play there till the following year, and Berry never played there -- though he did play at the 1965 New York Folk Festival, shortly before Newport. (I sorted all of this out when I wrote Dylan Goes Electric!, but should have had it right the first time.)