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Love Me Do

It is a milestone for each band: to record and release a single for the first time. The Beatles already released a couple of songs with Tony Sheridan in Germany, but this was the real thing for them, because it happened for the first time under their own name. Love Me Do became a modest hit in the UK, even though there were persistent rumors that Brian Epstein had bought about ten thousand singles by himself, in order to get the song hit the charts. But these rumors have never been proven:
There were enough fans of The Beatles around because we were playing all over the Wirral, Cheshire, Manchester and Liverpool. We were quite popular, so the sales were real. (…) First hearing Love Me Do on the radio sent me shivery all over. It was the best buzz of all time. We knew it was going to be on Radio Luxembourg at something like 7.30 on Thursday night. I was in my house in Speke and we all listened in.
George Harrison




Special about Love Me Do was that the song was written by themself, at that time very unusual. Producer George Martin initially had "How Do You Do It" in mind (which later became a hit single by Gerry and the Pacemakers), but the quirky band persisted to use an own composition. Love Me Do dates from the early years of collaboration between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It was written around 1958, although Lennon and McCartney have different memories about each other's contribution:
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. 
John Lennon


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.
Paul McCartney





The track has been recorded three times in total. At first during their EMI audition on June 6, 1962, with Pete Best on drums. But George Martin was not impressed with Best's drumming. The audition led to a recording deal, but Martin told manager Brian Epstein that he would use a professional drummer during the next recording sessions. For Lennon and McCartney, this was the reason to replace Best by Ringo Starr, who subsequently plays on a version recorded on September 4, a recording session where George Martin was not present. The producer was therefore not aware that Ringo had replaced Pete Best and Martin had booked Andy White for the next recording sessions on September 11th.

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.
Ringo Starr

Eventually, Ringo joins in on a tambourine and it is this recording that eventually is released as the band’s first single and will appear on their first LP Please Please Me. The presence of the tambourine is the easiest way to distinguish the two versions. 
Only a lot later, the two other recordings will be released: The one with appears in 1988 on the compilation album Past Masters 1 and Pete Best's version eventually on Anthology 1 in 1995.




Video: Love Me Do

André Homan

André Homan is a Dutch writer and journalist.

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