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Summertime was used in the Folk Opera Porgy & Bess, which started as a 1924 novel by DuBose Heyward called Porgy. The novel is about a black community in South Carolina, and George Gershwin thought it would make a great stage production. Along with his brother Ira, Gershwin collaborated with Heyward and brought the novel to the stage in 1935. This is the most famous song from the musical and appears 4 times in the production, most notably as a lullaby to help put a baby to sleep. The lullaby style became very popular and many children grew up hearing this song from their parents.
Heyward wrote the lyrics and the Gershwins are credited for the music.
Summertime is one of the most covered songs in history, (over 25.000 recordings in possession by the Summertime Connection). Janis Joplin's Blues-Rock version with Big Brother & the Holding Company is probably the best known, but other notable covers were recorded by Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Frank Sinatra. Fantasia from American Idol performed it twice on the show when she won in 2004, which introduced the song to a new audience.
Sublime's 1996 song "Doin' Time" is based on Summertime.
Janis Joplin performed Summertime at the Woodstock festival in 1969.
Summertime was the first occasion on which John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr recorded music together. They were the backing group for Lu Walters, whose real name was Walter Eymond although everyone knew him as Wally. Walters was the bassist in Rory Storm's band The Hurricanes, which also featured Starr on drums.
Beatles drummer Pete Best wasn't there, so Eymond's bandmate Ringo Starr played. They also recorded "September Song" and "Fever."
The recording was made October 15, 1960, in the small Akustik studio by the railway station at Kirchenallee 57, Hamburg - Germany, where members of the public were able to record messages for family and friends and have them pressed to 78rpm acetate discs. Nine copies of Summertime were pressed onto acetate disc, though none are known to have survived. (www.beatlesbible.com)