Napoleon XIV (AKA Jerry Samuels) released "They're Coming to Take Me Away" in 1966. He had no second song, so they simply played the song backwards on the B-side.

enter image description hereenter image description here

A lot of singles simply feature an instrumental version of the A-side, for the same reason. Others would just grab a catalog song and record it to fill the space. Spike Milligan once sat quietly (and bored) humming and drumming his fingers in a recording studio for two minutes after he explained that he only had one song and "there's nothing on this side"

But I'm curious if anyone can point to an earlier example of a single with effectively only one song, and the B-side filled with just an instrumental, or some other example of the same song again? Or was Jerry the first just not to bother?

  • 1
    Related: musicfans.stackexchange.com/q/248/3955
    – user3955
    Apr 24, 2019 at 3:35
  • 1
    Related but unrelated; my good friend from high school's dad was the opener at their only live performance ever, which was in Massachusetts. "We were all still in high school and only broke out of Westchester County on a few occasions. When “Surfin’ East Coast” made the top 10 on the charts in Providence, Rhode Island in the summer of 1965, we drove up there and opened for the one and only live performance of Napoleon the 14th ("They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha”) at the brand new Braintree (Massachusetts) Coliseum." My friend's dad eventually joined Steam, who had a hit with "Na Na Na" Jun 26, 2019 at 15:07
  • I have a few 45s that don't have a B side that just repeat the A side. These are usually promo or radio station releases. I guess the benefits are two fold, you don't want stations playing the B side when you want the A side played, and if it gets worn out or damaged, then it can be flipped.
    – nelgin
    May 5, 2020 at 20:10


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.