“Love Me Do” is the debut single by the English rock band the Beatles, backed by “P.S. I Love You”. When the single was originally released in the United Kingdom on 5 October 1962, it peaked at No. 17; in 1982 it was re-promoted (not re-issued, retaining the same catalogue number) and reached No. 4. In the United States the single was a No. 1 hit in 1964. In 2013, recordings of the song that were released in 1962 entered the public domain in Europe.
The song was written several years before it was recorded, and prior to the existence of the Beatles. The single features John Lennon’s prominent harmonica playing and duet vocals by him and Paul McCartney. Three different recorded versions of the song by the Beatles have been released, each with a different drummer.
“Love Me Do” was primarily written by Paul McCartney in 1958–1959 while truant from school at age 16 and later credited to Lennon–McCartney; John Lennon contributed the middle eight. Lennon: “Paul wrote the main structure of this when he was 16, or even earlier. I think I had something to do with the middle … ‘Love Me Do’ is Paul’s song. He wrote it when he was a teenager. Let me think. I might have helped on the middle eight, but I couldn’t swear to it. I do know he had the song around, in Hamburg, even, way, way before we were songwriters”. (David Sheff. John Lennon: All We Are Saying). McCartney: “‘Love Me Do’ was completely co-written. It might have been my original idea but some of them really were 50-50s, and I think that one was. It was just Lennon and McCartney sitting down without either of us having a particularly original idea. We loved doing it, it was a very interesting thing to try and learn to do, to become songwriters. I think why we eventually got so strong was we wrote so much through our formative period. ‘Love Me Do’ was our first hit, which ironically is one of the two songs that we control, because when we first signed to EMI they had a publishing company called Ardmore and Beechwood which took the two songs, ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘P.S. I Love You’, and in doing a deal somewhere along the way we were able to get them back”.
‘Love Me Do’ was recorded by the Beatles on three different occasions with three different drummers at EMI Studios at 3 Abbey Road in London:
EMI Artist Test on 6 June 1962 with Pete Best on drums. This version (previously thought to be lost) is available on Anthology 1.
First proper recording session 4 September 1962. In August, Best had been replaced with Ringo Starr. Producer George Martin did not approve of Best’s drumming for studio work. It was the norm at that time to have a specialist studio drummer who knew the ways of studio work. The decision to fire Best was not Martin’s. The Beatles with Starr recorded a version at EMI Studios. They recorded Love Me Do in 15 takes. This version with Starr is available on Past Masters
Second recording session 11 September 1962. A week later, The Beatles returned to the same studio and they made a recording of ‘Love Me Do’ with session drummer Andy White on drums. Starr was relegated to playing tambourine. As tambourine is not present on the 4 September recording, this is the easiest way to distinguish between the Starr and White recordings.
Dit jaar is het al weer 55 jaar geleden dat deze single opgenomen en uitgebracht werd. Een onbetekenend deuntje eigenlijk, wat toch de hele muziekwereld zou gaan veranderen, want deze single was de debuutsingle van The Beatles. Vier Britse jongens die in die tijd veel optraden in Duitsland en in de later beroemd geworden Cavern in Liverpool, de stad waar ze vandaan kwamen.
Hun manager Brian Epstein had na lang leuren met auditietapes een opnamesessie voor ze geregeld in de Abbey Road studios bij George Martin. Niet dat die nu zo razend enthousiast was over deze groep, zeker de drummer vond hij niet veel soeps, maar hij wilde ze toch een kans geven. De invloed van de muziekproducenten was destijds nog heel erg groot. Niemand wist toen nog dat onder meer deze vier gasten dat zouden gaan veranderen. Dit Love Me Do was nu ook niet bepaald een meesterwerk.
Het was wel de start van iets wat Engeland en de rest van de wereld een aantal jaren op zijn kop zou zetten en gedateerd of niet ik word nog altijd behoorlijk vrolijk als ik de muziek van The Beatles hoor.