The Beatles recorded their second single, Please Please Me, during a three hour session at Abbey Road’s studio two on 26 November 1962.
The group arrived at 6pm and rehearsed for a short time ahead of the session’s 7pm start. They recorded 18 takes of Please Please Me, including overdubs of John Lennon‘s harmonica.
At the end of the session George Martin addressed the group over the studio’ talkback system. “Congratulations, gentlemen,” he told them, “You’ve just made your first number one.”
He was correct, to a degree. At the time of the single’s release, 11 January 1963, there was no standard singles chart. In some – Melody Maker, New Musical Express and Disc – Please Please Me did indeed reach number one, after six weeks on sale. In the Record Retailer chart, also used by New Record Mirror, it only reached number two. The Beatles had to wait until From Me To You to score their first bona fide chart topper.
After recording Please Please Me, The Beatles then turned their attention to the b-side. Ask Me Why was completed it in six takes. They also performed another Lennon-McCartney original, Tip Of My Tongue, to George Martin, but the producer suggested it needed more work before it would be ready to record.
The Beatles never returned to Tip Of My Tongue, and instead gave it to Tommy Quickly, another artist managed by Brian Epstein, who recorded it in July 1963.