Everybody knows that the Beatles' "Hard Day's Night" begins with a single guitar chord, struck once and left to ring, before the vocals come in. It's one of the most famous chords in rock & roll, and just that lone chord is used to evoke an entire era of Beatles music. Even so, nobody is quite sure what it is: George Harrison, who played it, once said, "It is F with a G on top, but you'll have to ask Paul about the bass note to get the proper story." Apparently the whole band was actually playing, very subtly, behind George.
As memorable as that chord was, the basic strategy was not original to the Beatles. The Everly Brothers also played a single chord on the guitar before chiming in on "All I Have to Do Is Dream." There's no doubt that the Beatles knew this song, since it was a Number One hit and the boys were big fans of the Everlys. What I don't know, and what I'd like to know, is if the Everlys invented that move, or if it originated with someone else.
This clip I have for you doesn't really show off the opening chord at its best; Don (at least I think that's Don) kind of tosses it off, not like it is on the record. But here, on The Alma Cogan Show (a British variety show hosted by a pop songstress who died of cancer in 1966 at the age of 34), they're singing live, and their voices blend so effortlessly and euphoniously. You can see why every band from that early rock era loved them: