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Love Me Do (Lennon/McCartney)

Love Me Do was the first single released by the Beatles on Parlophone Records.

Copyright ownership

Love Me Do entered the public domain in Europe in 2012.

Single release

Love Me Do was up against Mitch Murray's How Do You Do It in contention for The Beatles' first single. Producer George Martin was pushing for the recording and release of Mitch Murray's How Do You Do It as the Beatles' first single. Citing "peer pressure" from back home, the Beatles pushed for Love Me Do to which George Martin eventually agreed.

Brian Epstein was rumored to have bought 10,000 copies of the single in an effort to boost its chart performance, but this has never been verified and was refuted by John Lennon.

Three separate recordings

Love Me Do was recorded three times:

EMI Artist Test on June 6, 1962 with Pete Best on drums. This version was believed lost but was recovered and released on Anthology 1.

The first proper recording session on September 4, 1962 features Ringo on drums, having replaced Pete Best in August. This version was used on the Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You single and is also the version which appears on Past Masters. In the US it appeared on the 1980 Rarities compilation.

The song was then re-recorded on September 11 with session drummer Andy White, who was booked by session manager Ron Richards as Richards had worked with him before. The dissatisfaction may have been because Starr's drumming technique was based more on the emerging "looser" R&B style and not the traditional, "tighter" method expected by record producers at the time. In any case, it was not abnormal for recordings to feature session drummers using this "tighter" method and the band's "real" drummer perform for live concerts. Ringo was relegated to playing tambourine (a tambourine is not present on the September 4 recording, so this is the easiest way to distinguish between the Ringo and Andy White recordings). This is the version which appears on the Please Please Me LP as well as all album releases (including the The Beatles' Hits EP).

Lost master tapes

The master tape to the September 4th version  was wiped, and no master tapes of the track exist as standard procedure was to erase the session tape once it had been mixed down for pressing. However, that master has also been lost, possibly because EMI saw no reason to keep the track once the song had been re-recorded with Andy White on September 11 (it may have also been to avoid controversy). For the next release on which the song appeared - the Capitol Rarities LP - a 45 from EMI's archives was used. Years later a new master was created from a 45 provided by a private collector which has been used since.

Quotes

"Paul wrote the main structure of this when he was sixteen, or even earlier. I think I had something to do with the middle." - John Lennon, 1972

"On my first visit in September we just ran through some tracks for George Martin. We even did Please Please Me. I remember that, because while we were recording it I was playing the bass drum with a maraca in one hand and a tambourine in the other. I think it's because of that that George Martin used Andy White, the 'professional', when we went down a week later to record Love Me Do. The guy was previously booked, anyway, because of Pete Best. George didn't want to take any more chances and I was caught in the middle. I was devastated that George Martin had his doubts about me. I came down ready to roll and heard, 'We've got a professional drummer.' He has apologised several times since, has old George, but it was devastating - I hated the bugger for years; I still don't let him off the hook!" - Ringo Starr, 2000

"The first record, 'Love Me Do', for me that was more important than anything else. That first piece of plastic. You can't believe how great that was. It was so wonderful. We were on a record!" - Ringo Starr, 1976

"George got his way and Ringo didn't drum on the first single. He only played tambourine. I don't think Ringo ever got over that. He had to go back up to Liverpool and everyone asked, 'How did it go in the Smoke?' We'd say, 'B-side's good,' but Ringo couldn't admit to liking the A-side, not being on it." - Paul McCartney

"In Hamburg we clicked...at the Cavern we clicked...but if you want to know when we knew we'd arrived, it was getting in the charts with 'Love Me Do'. That was the one. It gave us somewhere to go." - Paul McCartney, 1982

Recording dates

  • June 6, 1962 (Unknown number of takes; artist test, mixing)
  • September 4, 1962 (15 takes, mono mix created from unknown take number)
  • September 11, 1962 (mixing)
  • February 25, 1963 (mixing)

Release history

Chart Performance

  • #1, April 27 (1 week), Billboard (US)

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