The Beatles Songs: "Love Me Do"

The history of this classic Beatles song

The original UK picture sleeve for the single of
The original UK picture sleeve for the single of "Love Me Do". fab4collectibles.com

All About "Love Me Do"

Written by Paul McCartney (credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded September 4th and 11th, 1962 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Length 2:17
Takes 33

Musicians: 

Paul McCartney lead vocal, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
John Lennon harmonica, rhythm guitar, backing vocals (Gibson J160E)
George Harrison acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Ringo Starr drums (version 1), tambourine (version 2)
Alan White drums (version 2)

First released October 5th, 1962 (UK: Parlophone 45-R 4949) version 1; April 27th, 1964 (US: Tollie 9008) version 2

Available on: 

Past Masters, Volume 1, (Parlophone CDP 90043-2) version 1

, (UK: Parlophone CDP7 46435-2; US: Capitol CLJ 46435) version 2

Highest chart position 17 (UK: December 27, 1962), 1 (1 week) (US: May 30, 1964)

The writing and recording of the Beatles' song "Love Me Do"

An attempt at a straight blues that dates all the way back to the Quarrymen days of 1958, "Love Me Do" was originally a Everly Brothers-style duet, with Paul and John singing the whole song in harmony and Lennon taking the solo "Love me dooo" at the end of each verse. However, John decided to add harmonica to the song at some point, having been directly inspired by Bruce Channel's recent hit "Hey Baby." Since he couldn't play the harmonica riff and sing the last line of verse at the time, producer George Martin ordered Paul to do it instead, on the spot.

You can hear the nervousness in his shaky spotlight.

There are two versions of this song. Version 1 features Ringo on drums and was recorded first. When the Beatles reconvened to cut the song again on September 11, 1962, however, producer George Martin, still unsure of the new kid Ringo's ability, substituted session drummer Alan White.

This "version 2," on which Ringo merely plays a tambourine, remains the best-known (and, frankly, better quality) version: it was released as a single in the US, as opposed to the original single in the UK, which was taken from version 1 (although subsequent UK pressings used version 2). Version 2 was also kept off the album in favor of 1, although Martin claims this was probably not done on purpose. 

Although this was never a favorite among most Beatles fans, John and Paul have both stood by the song in interviews; Martin himself remained unimpressed with the McCartney-Lennon songwriting partnership until John brought in a ballad called "Please Please Me."

Live versions February 20, 1963, for BBC radio's Parade of the Pops

BBC versions Eight (for the BBC radio programs Here We Go, Talent Spot, Saturday Club, Side By Side, Pop Go The Beatles, and Easy Beat)

Trivia and fun facts about the Beatles song "Love Me Do"

  • This song was actually recorded first on June 6, 1962 during the group's first audition with EMI. At that time, Pete Best was still the drummer. This version, thought lost for years, turned up in George Martin's home and can no be found on the CD Anthology 1 (Apple 34445).
  • It was while on tour with Chanel that John Lennon first became interested in the harmonica, which was played on stage by a young musician named Delbert McClinton. He happily taught John the instrument.
  • George Martin originally wanted the band's first single to be an outside composition called "How Do You Do It," but although the band recorded it, they eventually won the right to release this instead. Gerry and the Pacemakers later had a hit with a cover of "How Do You Do It" modeled very closely after the Beatles' version.
  • Rumor has been spread for years that this, the Beatles' first UK single, only made it onto the charts because manager Brian Epstein personally purchased 10,000 copies of it. No evidence of this has ever been found, however, and John Lennon, for one, has publicly branded the rumor as false.
  • This song was reissued as a single in the UK in 1984, and this time climbed to #4.

Famous covers The Brady Bunch (1972) and Alvin & the Chipmunks (1964) have both covered "Love Me Do," most likely because of the song's melodic and structural simplicity.

"Love Me Do" is also the only Beatles song ever revisited by a Beatle in the studio; Ringo Starr sang his own update on the 1998 album Vertical Man