Chuck Berry  - Bye Bye Johnny

First performance: 17/07/1982


Bruce covered the song 3 times off-tour : 
Source ; Brucebase
Note: Between legs of the River Tour in March 1981, Springsteen recorded a demo (V1) at his home, combining lyrics from Darkness On The Edge Of Town outtake "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)" with some newly written lyrics over new music. This recording can be found on bootlegs 'Fistfull Of Dollars' and 'How Nebraska Was Born' under the title "Bye Bye Johnny". A dark and foreboding arrangement used the discarded lyrics, including the part about Elvis dying, and became a Nebraska-style song.

In 1962, Chuck Berry wrote "Bye Bye Johnny", a sequel to "Johnny B. Goode", where a mother sent her musician son off to Hollywood to be a star: "She drew out all her money from the Southern Trust, and put her little boy aboard the Greyhound Bus." Bruce decided to use those lines in 1981 in the opening verse of a new song that used most of the lyrics from "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)", calling it "Johnny Bye-Bye". He kept the lines about the death of Elvis and added lines about Memphis, all over a bouncy hillbilly blues rhythm. Despite performing the song regularly on the River Tour, Bruce did not record it as part of the January 1982 Nebraska demos at Colts Neck; the legendary Nebraska version of "Johnny Bye-Bye" does not exist. The version on the tape he sent Landau was almost certainly a live July 1981 recording. When the Nebraska tape was backed up in June 1982 in its entirety, alternate takes and all, there was still no "Johnny Bye-Bye".

The first studio take of "Johnny Bye-Bye" was recorded on April 27, 1982, at Power Station, New York. This audio does not circulate. In all likelihood, this is a solo take. Studio documentation shows that Springsteen returned to the song in the winter of 1983, with sessions on January 4 and March 9 and 24 all at Bruce's Hollywood Hills converted studio, Thrill Hill West, Los Angeles, CA. According to the Tracks liner notes, the official V3 was recorded in January, and five different mixes circulate. V3d, released February 6, 1985 as the b-side to "I'm On Fire", features a different drum overdub to that found on the mix chosen for Tracks, V3e. V3b and V3c have slight but noticeable variations in their mixes.

V4 and V5 were recorded on March 9 at Thrill Hill West and are different takes of a slower acoustic arrangement with a gentle synthesizer backing, slight lyrical differences and overdubbed with chirping crickets at the start and end. By far the definitive performance is V6, from March 24, 1983, which includes a poignant extra verse at the end, not found on the other versions. "Johnny Bye-Bye" was included on the July 1983 sequence for Born In The U.S.A., but did not make the final cut. After the lawyers met, Bruce and Chuck became composing partners, the song now registered as Springsteen-Berry. 
2017-04-22 Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, NJ
After the previous night's Upstage Jam, Bruce made another unannounced appearance at Little Steven's show. Stevie called Bruce out on stage with "My brother from another mother", for the encores.
2017-04-21 Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, NJ
Bruce, Southside Johnny, Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul, and more come together on stage as the Upstage Jam Band for a show that took place as part of the Asbury Park Music & Film Festival. In the afternoon the documentary Just before the Dawn, about the legendary Upstage Club, received its premiere. For this documentary Little Steven, Garry Tallent, Southside Johnny and Vini Lopez were all interviewed. For the show, Bruce mostly contributed guitar and backing vocals. He was not on stage for several additional songs not listed under. He took lead vocals for "Lucille" and duet vocals with Southside on "Something You Got". Vini Lopez takes lead vocals on the first performance since 1971 of "The Ballad Of Jesse James".
1982-07-17 Big Man's West, Red Bank, NJ 
Springsteen makes a guest appearance with Joe Grushecky. According to Grushecky, this was the first time he had ever met Springsteen, let alone jammed with him - the start of a long friendship.


"Bye, Bye Johnny" is a song written by Chuck Berry from the 1960 Rockin' at the Hops album. Berry wrote four more songs involving the character Johnny B. Goode, "Bye Bye Johnny", "Go Go Go", "Johnny B. Blues" and "Lady B. Goode" .
Bruce gave Chuck Berry co-writing credits on his own Johnny Bye Bey since he borrowed some lines from Berry's Bye Bye Johnny as well as the play on the title. More info : Springsteenlyrics.


Other cover versions

Bruce on the artist

When Chuck Berry died Bruce tweeted :
"Chuck Berry was rock's greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock 'n' roll writer who ever lived. This is a tremendous loss of a giant for the ages."

Springsteen and Berry played together on at least two occasions. As back up at the University of Maryland in 1973. Springsteen asked what songs they were going to do. Berry said : " we're going to do some Chuck Berry songs." More than 20 years later, Springsteen again played backup for Berry, at a concert at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, celebrating the opening of the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame.
Bruce had 3 performances together with Chuck Berry:

1995-09-02 Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, OH
The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame inauguration concert
1987-01-21 Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City, NY
The second annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ceremony. 

1973-04-28 Cole Field House, University Of Maryland, College Park, MD
One show, triple bill, with Chuck Berry headlining, [Lee Lewis]] second billed and Bruce and the boys opening. A show now steeped in legend. Berry's contract stipulated that it was the promoter's responsibility to supply him with a backing band for this concert. Apparently Bruce learned about a week before the show that the promoter was seeking a group to support Berry and immediately volunteered his band's services for free, which the promoter gladly accepted. There was no rehearsal or soundcheck with Berry, so Bruce and the boys improvised as best they could. The show was Bruce's first known appearance in Maryland. Bruce and the boys opened their part of the show with a 50-minute set, followed by a 60-minute set by Jerry Lee Lewis and his band. Chuck Berry (with Springsteen's entire band backing him, including Bruce and Southside Johnny) closed the evening's festivities with a 70-minute performance. Springsteen recounts some hilarious details in the 1987 Chuck Berry documentary Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, but does not mention Southside Johnny’s appearance. Fearing that Berry might not want a harp player Bruce positioned Southside in the shadows at the extreme end of the stage. However Berry enjoyed the harp playing and near the end of the show he actually acknowledged Southside to the crowd saying "that white boy can blow, can’t he!" This almost sold out gig in the 15,000 seat Cole Field House was not without some controversy. Such was the demand to see the show that the school newspaper reported that twenty people were arrested when police spotted individuals sneaking into the concert via an open female lavatory window at the back of the building. Apparently 200-300 people made it in before the police caught wind of what was going on. 
Watch Bruce tells the story here  
List of songs co-credited to Bruce Springsteen and Chuck Berry:


She drew out all her money out of the Southern Trust
And put her little boy aboard a Greyhound bus
Leaving Louisiana for the Golden West
Down came the tears from her happiness
Her own little son name 'o Johnny B. Goode
Was gonna make some motion pictures out in Hollywood

Bye, bye, bye, bye
Bye, bye, bye, bye
Bye bye Johnny
Good bye Johnny B. Goode

She remembered taking money out from gathering crop
And buying Johnny's guitar at a broker shop
As long as he would play it by the railroad side
And wouldn't get in trouble he was satisfied
But never thought that there would come a day like this
When she would have to give her son a goodbye kiss

Going, bye, bye, bye, bye
Bye, bye, bye, bye
Bye bye Johnny
Bye bye Johnny B. Goode

She finally got the letter she was dreaming of
Johnny wrote and told 'er he had fell in love
As soon as he was married he would bring her back
And build a mansion for 'em by the railroad track
So every time they heard the locomotive roar
They'd be a' standin', a' wavin' in the kitchen door

Howling, bye, bye, bye, bye
Bye, bye, bye, bye
Bye bye Johnny
Good bye Johnny B. Goode