The best covers of Beatles songs
Getty Images

The best covers of Beatles songs

Trying to cover a Beatles song and do it justice is obviously not easy. No matter who the artist or band that's trying to do so. Still, there have been some memorable covers of classic Beatles tunes that are worth celebrating. 

Here's a look at some of our favorites (in chronological order).

 
1 of 25

"Day Tripper," Otis Redding (1966)

"Day Tripper," Otis Redding (1966)
YouTube

Since the Beatles had great respect for Redding as an artist, it made sense the soul and R&B legend would take his turn at one of the band's biggest hits. "Day Tripper" just seemed like a song made for Redding's special vocal styling. His soulful take of the classic, with Booker T. & the M.G.'s backing him up, is one of the great covers of all time -- not just of a Beatles song. 

 
2 of 25

"Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band," Jimi Hendrix (1967)

"Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band," Jimi Hendrix (1967)
Keystone Press AgencyZUMA Wire/USA TODAY NETWORK

The legend goes that Hendrix was so captivated by the title track from one of the greatest records of all time, that he couldn't wait to play it live on stage. And did so just days after the record was released. In true Hendrix greatness, he shreds from beginning to end without an ounce of pretentiousness. Hendrix was not shy about his respect for the Beatles, and the feeling was mutual as Paul McCartney would often talk about.

 
3 of 25

"Hey Jude," Wilson Pickett, w/ Duane Allman (1969)

"Hey Jude," Wilson Pickett, w/ Duane Allman (1969)
Wilson Pickett

Taking on a track as legendary as "Hey Jude" can be daunting for any artist, regardless of stature. Yet Pickett offered his own R&B flair when he covered the song in the late 1960s. Actually, Pickett's brass-tinged version has a gospel-like feel that allows it to stand out among other takes. Also, having a then-young, up-and-coming guitarist like Allman play on the track only adds to the legacy of the cover.

 
4 of 25

"With A Little Help From My Friends," Joe Cocker (1969)

"With A Little Help From My Friends," Joe Cocker  (1969)
Ivan Keeman/Redferns

There are cases where a cover version is better than the original. That's often hard to accomplish with a Beatles song, but Cocker came close on his May 1969 debut record With a Little Help from My Friends. Cocker's fame reached new heights later that year at Woodstock, with his memorable version of the Sgt. Peppers ' cut with Ringo Starr on lead vocals. Television fans should also remember the song as the opening theme from the 1980s-'90s' hit The Wonder Years.

 
5 of 25

"Eleanor Rigby," Aretha Franklin (1970)

"Eleanor Rigby," Aretha Franklin (1970)
YouTube

It's always special when legendary artists cover songs by other greats in the business. We'll highlight plenty of those occasions on this list. Aretha Franklin has often found success through the Beatles with covers of "Yesterday" and "Let It Be," to name a couple. Yet, her version of "Eleanor Rigby" is simply sensational. Pure Aretha to the hilt, and another showcase of her brilliance.

 
6 of 25

"We Can Work It Out," Stevie Wonder (1970)

"We Can Work It Out," Stevie Wonder (1970)
Manny Crisostomo/Detroit Free Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA TODAY

Not that Stevie Wonder needed help from the Beatles to win a Grammy Award. But, his rendition of "We Can Work It Out," is considered one of the great covers of all time. And, yes. Wonder took home his fifth Grammy for the effort. To top things off, Wonder performed the song at White House in 2010, in front of Paul McCartney, who was being honored with the Gershwin Prize.

 
7 of 25

"Yesterday," Marvin Gaye (1970)

"Yesterday," Marvin Gaye (1970)
Nicholas De Sciose/ZUMA Wire via USA TODAY NETWORK

Gaye's 1970 album That's The Way Love Is is filled with cover songs. "Yesterday," however, seemed to stand out among the bunch (which included "Cloud Nine" and "Groovin'"). Like Aretha Franklin's version of "Eleanor Rigby," Gaye's take on the Beatles' most lauded ballad was uniquely his own. It's all soul and all heart. Even if Gaye's own heart was reportedly not actually into recording music for Motown at the time. It's truly a one-of-a-kind performance. 

 
8 of 25

"Here Comes The Sun," Nina Simone (1971)

"Here Comes The Sun," Nina Simone (1971)
Nina Simone

Pretty much everything Nina Simone did during her career was special. Her version of "Here Comes the Sun" might be more beautiful and poignant than the George Harrison-penned classic that the Beatles put out. Which is obviously saying a lot. Simone was no stranger to doing covers justice, and this take is at the top of the list of said endeavors. 

 
9 of 25

"Let It Be," Bill Withers (1971)

"Let It Be," Bill Withers (1971)
YouTube

Another Rock and Roll Hall of Famer taking his turn at a Beatles tune. And not just any track, but one of the most notable and celebrated of songs ever recorded. Withers, obviously, pulled it off wonderfully, with a picked-up pace and soulful groove. In almost gospel-like fashion, Withers' voice was in top form. Delivering a completely unique and original version that only Withers could pull off.

 
10 of 25

"She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," Ike and Tina Turner (1972)

"She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," Ike and Tina Turner (1972)
Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY

There's no reason to promote or celebrate the male half of this duo. But anybody who's heard this rendition of the Abbey Road track knows Tina Turner's participation is nothing short of legendary. As expected, Tina Turner delivers the goods. Her trademark vocal shriek gave a new, fresh take on a song that originally showcased the Beatles' soulful side that developed late in the band's existence. 

 
11 of 25

"Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," Elton John (1975)

"Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," Elton John (1975)
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY

It wasn't good enough that Sir Elton covered this Sgt. Pepper trippy  classic, but the fact he had John Lennon (under the assumed name of Dr. Winston O'Boogie) play on his version only added to the legacy of the song. Elton John's rendition sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks. Over time, it just might be his most enduring cover ("Pinball Wizard" is also in the running). 

 
12 of 25

"‘Help," The Damned (1976)

"‘Help," The Damned (1976)
YouTube

This was the B-side to "New Rose," The Damned's biggest hit from its debut album Damned Damned Damned. The group's version of "Help," which runs less than two minutes long, is a fun romp with its signature punk twist, thus making it stand out among other covers of this timeless pop-rock classic. Actually, when delving through The Damned''s storied catalog, it's actually one of the group's most organized and polished songs.

 
13 of 25

"Got to Get You Into My Life," Earth, Wind & Fire (1978)

"Got to Get You Into My Life," Earth, Wind & Fire (1978)
YouTube

Earth, Wind & Fire was highly influential because of its own collective sound and original tunes. However, one of the biggest hits these R&B legends enjoyed was off this Beatles hit. Released as a single in the late 1970s, EWF's version of "Got to Get You Into My Life" earned gold-record status, went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart, and reached the top 10 in the Hot 100. 

 
14 of 25

“Dear Prudence," Siouxsie & The Banshees (1983)

“Dear Prudence," Siouxsie & The Banshees (1983)
YouTube

Siouxsie Sue already earned acclaim covering the Beatles when the band delivered a hauntingly raucous version of "Helter Skelter" in the late 1970s. This time, it went for a more melodic piece, with a version that enjoyed more commercial awareness, and eventually found its way to MTV. As expected, and successfully done, Siouxsie and her backing band took a classic and made it even more listenable in their own way.

 
15 of 25

"Helter Skelter," U2 (1988)

"Helter Skelter," U2 (1988)
Shelley Mays/USA TODAY Sports

"This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We're stealing it back." That's how U2 kicked off the Rattle and Hum record -- and film. While others have delivered solid versions (Motley Crue's stands out) of this fast, up-tempo number from the Beatles' self-titled 1968 release, also known as the "White Album" (a favorite of the diabolical Manson), U2's shines the brightest. Bono's voice is perfect for the piece and The Edge's Stratocaster brilliantly paces the tune.

 
16 of 25

"Happiness Is A Warm Gun," The Breeders (1990)

"Happiness Is A Warm Gun," The Breeders (1990)
YouTube

One of the great alternative rock records of the 1990s was Pod, the much-awaited debut by The Breeders. Among the gems on the album was the cover of this underrated Beatles' deep cut. Kim Deal, Tanya Donelly, and the original lineup of his quasi-super group offer a raw, dark but direct, version of the song. Showing a sign of strength that would pave the way for the band to enjoy success in a post-Pixies world.

 
17 of 25

"Anytime at All," Dweezil Zappa (1991)

"Anytime at All," Dweezil Zappa (1991)
YouTube

Frank Zappa performed a number of Beatles songs during his illustrious career. However, it was his son Dweezil, who delivered a notable and underrated version of this somewhat underappreciated Beatles hit. Dweezil has never been able to enjoy the same success his father did, but his new-wave version of the upbeat "Anytime at All" is worth a listen -- over and over.

 
18 of 25

"I Am The Walrus," Oasis (1994)

"I Am The Walrus," Oasis (1994)
YouTube

It only makes sense for a band that liked to compare itself to the Beatles (well, at least some members did) would take aim at something by the Fab Four. One of Oasis' best attempts at playing the Beatles came on "I Am The Walrus." Say what one will about the brothers Gallagher, but when they were in form on stage, it was pretty special. This version of the single from the Magical Mystery Tour film -- and EP -- was one of those moments.

 
19 of 25

"In My Life," Johnny Cash (2002)

"In My Life," Johnny Cash (2002)
YouTube

Cash's American Recordings records showcased "The Man in Black" later in his career, and this cover of another Beatles' classic is one of the highlights. At this point in his life, Cash, who died less than a year after its release, seemed ready to put things into perspective. So, it made sense to record this type of song. Done in true Cash fashion, it's haunting and passionate, yet gritty and personal -- exactly what we would expect from a legend.

 
20 of 25

"Blackbird," Elliott Smith (2003)

"Blackbird," Elliott Smith (2003)
YouTube

Smith was a tortured soul who made brilliant music. Among some of his best works were his cover songs. "Blackbird" is one Beatles cover that fans should be eager to hear, regardless of the artist doing taking it on. Smith's version is beautiful and emotional, perhaps even more so than the original. It almost sounds like Smith felt content and comfortable with life while performing this song.

 
21 of 25

"Paperback Writer," B-52's (2004)

"Paperback Writer," B-52's (2004)
YouTube

The B-52's just seem like a band made to do a cover of this song. We will overlook the fact that this version was originally done for a car commercial. Regardless, it's an above-average cover that's a fun take on a popular tune. A perfect fit for the quirky band that got better with age. Kate Pierson's vocals flow superbly, and of course, we get some classic Fred Schneider in the background.

 
22 of 25

"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," Chris Cornell (2006)

"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," Chris Cornell (2006)
Ron Elkman/USA TODAY NETWORK

The late Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman performed some exceptional covers during his life (thinking "Stay With Me Baby" or "Nothing Compares 2 U"). Consider this one part of the batch. Like others on this list, Cornell found a Beatles song that fits well with his unique range and added a soulful style to one of the band's more poignant pieces of work. Just another reason to celebrate Cornell's career.

 
23 of 25

"Hello, Goodbye," The Cure (2014)

"Hello, Goodbye," The Cure (2014)
YouTube

The Cure is known for its classic melancholy and often dark tunes. So, it was fun to see the band take one of the Beatles' more up-tempo hits and bring home a fresh, easy-to-listen rendition. Maybe's it's not too much of a surprise the band pulled it off, considering the talented Robert Smith has always surrounded himself with high-quality musicians, who are able to live up to his level of excellence.

 
24 of 25

"I Want to Hold Your Hand," Melvins (2018)

"I Want to Hold Your Hand," Melvins (2018)
YouTube

Grunge pioneers the Melvins have always been innovative, and continue to find ways to add to their musical creativity. Its cover of one of the most popular songs of all time is both original and instantly likable. If fans of alt-rock, punk, or hard rock could imagine those types of versions of "I Want to Hold Your Hand," it would go something like the one the Melvins cooked up. And, we can't get enough of it, either.

 
25 of 25

"Something," Billie Eilish (2019)

"Something," Billie Eilish (2019)
Democratic National Convention via USA TODAY

There are plenty of music critics -- and fans, of course -- who insist George Harrison's greatest writing accomplishment with the Beatles is this melodic gem for Abbey Road. They are not wrong. And, Eilish does not disappoint with her slowed down, drawn-out cover of "Something." If we needed another reason to celebrate Eilish's beyond-budding talent, here's an example.

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.

More must-reads:

Customize Your Newsletter

+

Get the latest news and rumors, customized to your favorite sports and teams. Emailed daily. Always free!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.