(John Lennon/Paul McCartney)
John Lennon predominantly wrote this song as a waltz rather than the later upbeat version with a possible input by Paul McCartney on the middle eight. He based it on the 1957 song “Silhouettes” by Bob Crewe, which was recorded by the New York group The Rays. John Lennon said it was his own version of the song and his music publisher, Dick James, described it as his “first complete song” as it told a story from beginning to end.
It has been said that the song was originally pencilled in for A Hard Day’s Night, but wasn’t included due to it’s darker side. It was then made into a demo on 3rdJune by The Beatles, but without Ringo who was suffering from tonsillitis at the time. It’s been thought that it may have been Jimmy Nicol on drums instead, although that’s not certain. The song from this demo was meant for Tommy Quickly who was a singer that Brian Epstein also looked after, but John Lennon decided he liked the sound of it and withdrew it so that The Beatles could use it instead.
The group recorded it again on 30th September 1964, this time with Ringo Starr on drums and George Martin on piano, and eight takes were recorded. A couple of them had John and Paul adding comic lines, the fifth one had an extra bridge which added a minute to the playing time and the second one was later released on their Anthology 1.
It appeared as the first track on the UK album Beatles For Sale and was later released in April 1965 on the Beatles for Sale EP. It also appeared as the first track on the US album released Beatles ’65.
The actress Sandy Dennis insisted the song was written about her and even attempted to claim royalties for it.
Stars on 45 later covered the song on their 1981 chart-topping Beatles medley.
Stars on 45 recordings
Medley: Intro “Venus” – Sugar Sugar – No Reply – I’ll Be Back – Drive My Car – Do You Want to Know a Secret – We Can Work it Out – I Should Have Known Better – Nowhere Man – You’re Going to Lose That Girl – Stars on 45 (Jeff Barry/Martin Duiser/Jaap Eggermont/Andy Kim/Robbie van Leeuwen/John Lennon/Paul McCartney)