Graham Nash Recalls ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ Clause in Record Contract
Graham Nash recalled how the classic Gene Vincent song “Be-Bop-A-Lula” was so important to him that it became part of contract negotiations with a record label in 1980.
The Crosby, Stills & Nash icon said the 1956 track, which was released on Capitol Records, was the first record he’d ever owned, when he was around 14 years old.
“I got it by trading two pieces of toast to my friend, [later Gerry and the Pacemakers drummer] Freddie Marsden,” Nash told Rolling Stone. “I traded it to him for my lunch, took it home, and unfortunately I sat on it and broke it immediately. That really upset me.”
Years later, he recalled, "I had an argument with [CBS Records boss] Walter Yetkinoff about the cover of [1980 solo LP] Earth & Sky, and I told my lawyer to get me a new record company. And he said, ‘Well, what about Capitol?’ I said, ‘I’ll join Capitol if they let me in the studio and let me play once the original two-track of ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula.’”
He went on to recall how the CSN classic “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” had been recorded twice, in two 11-hour sessions, because Stephen Stills hadn’t been sure about the first take, then said, “Nah, the other one’s better” after the second take. That didn’t blunt Nash’s enthusiasm for the song, however.
“That song was such an incredible vehicle for the sound that we created,” he said. “It was perfect. ... When were halfway through making Deja Vu, I said, ‘You know what we don’t have? We don’t have a “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” … We don’t have the song where, when you play it, you’re definitely not going to get up and take the needle off the record.’ … He said to me, ‘Okay, I get it.’ Two days later, he comes back and he goes, ‘What about this?’ Then he played ‘Carry On.’ Holy shit. Stephen, he was really a genius then. A brilliant musician.”