Love Me Do

Love Me Do single - United KingdomWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 6 June, 4 and 11 September 1962
Producers: Ron Richards, George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 5 October 1962 (UK), 27 April 1964 (US)

Paul McCartney: vocals, bass
John Lennon: vocals, harmonica, acoustic rhythm guitar
George Harrison: acoustic rhythm guitar
Ringo Starr: drums, tambourine
Pete Best: drums
Andy White: drums

Available on:
Please Please Me
Past Masters
1
Anthology 1
Live At The BBC

Love Me Do, The Beatles’ debut single, was released in the UK on 5 October 1962.

Download on iTunes




The song was an early Lennon-McCartney composition from 1958, although it wasn’t recorded by the group for another four years.

Paul wrote the main structure of this when he was 16, or even earlier. I think I had something to do with the middle.
John Lennon, 1972

Lennon spoke again of the song in an interview conducted shortly before his death.

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, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Despite this, McCartney remembers Love Me Do as a joint effort between the two of them, and that it came out of their early songwriting experiments.

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 PS I Love You, and in doing a deal somewhere along the way we were able to get them back.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Although The Beatles started out by performing cover versions, as Lennon and McCartney grew as songwriters they began introducing their own compositions into their live shows.

Introducing our own numbers started round Liverpool and Hamburg. Love Me Do, one of the first ones we wrote, Paul started when he must have been about 15. It was the first one we dared to do of our own. This was quite a traumatic thing because we were doing such great numbers of other people’s, of Ray Charles and [Little] Richard and all of them.

It was quite hard to come in singing Love Me Do. We thought our numbers were a bit wet. But we gradually broke that down and decided to try them.

John Lennon
Anthology

As well as being their debut single, the band also recorded Love Me Do eight times for the BBC. A version from 10 July 1963, recorded for the Pop Go The Beatles programme, is available on Live At The BBC.

In 1976, Ringo Starr described how Love Me Do was a turning point for the group:

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!

Paul McCartney confirmed that the song was the point at which The Beatles knew they were becoming successful.

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.

26 responses on “Love Me Do

    1. Joe Post author

      Hi Alker. The information is on page two of the article:

      It is White’s version which appears on the Please Please Me album, though Ringo’s drumming can be heard on Past Masters. The recording featuring Pete Best appeared on Anthology 1 in 1995.

      1. Buddy

        I have read somewhere or have heard from a documentary of Ringo’s interview about the Love Me Do version he played in, Ringo mentions that since George Martin didn’t allow him to play the drums during the initial recording of Love Me Do he played the tambourine instead. The first release single of Love Me Do featured Andy White, but the second release featured Ringo. The Andy White version is the version with the tambourine and the version without the tambourine is with Ringo. The bland Anthology version featured Pete Best, you will notice it’s Pete because he likes to do extra drum rolls which George Martin didn’t like. If the drum has extra kicks or rolls in the middle, it’s Pete Best. Andy White actually played in two songs naming Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You. You can clearly hear the difference in the drum beating style if you compare these two songs from the Please Please Me album to other songs where Ringo played in.

  1. Derek Carter

    I have the 7″ demo version of Love Me Do.
    I believe this is now quite collectable but have no way of playing it (no turntable).
    If I was to sell it what version would I quote? From your details would think Ringo on drums?

  2. McLerristarr

    The Anthology version contains harmonica so by the time they recorded the Past Masters version and the Please Please Me version – after all those rehearsals and takes – Paul can’t possibly still have been nervous, yet he claims he can hear his nerves on the recording.

    1. Buddy

      Paul was nervous on the Anthology version of Love Me Do because it was their first recording session with George Martin (their potential producer at that time) You will notice how basic the entire song was and how plain it is by simply comparing it to the well known versions.

    2. MattBusby

      I read somewhere (the Davies book maybe) that Paul was nervous because it was John’s song but he had to take the ‘Love me do’ line so that John could get his harmonica (I think it’s not a harp in love me do) into his mouth. Of course the album version has mostly the two harmonies and Paul alone sings ‘love me do’ (at least I’m pretty sure). But then, that was way before the Past Masters.

      You speak of ‘recording’ the Past Masters. To me this sounds like the band recorded them, which I know didn’t happen.

      BTW, there is a great youtube with segments of all 3 versions, comparing them, with some commentary by some drummer. It’s really worth watching for folk like us.

  3. TheOneBeatle

    It’s too bad that EMI destroyed the 4 September tapes in which Ringo played drums.
    And also it’s bad that there’s really no stereo version of this song.
    Only Duophonic.
    And also, all the master tapes we’re destroyed :/

    1. John Rudd

      For purists like me its great that there was no stereo version of Love Me Do. At this time and really up to Revolver and probably Sgt Pepper little attention was paid to the stereo versions of Beatles’ material. In the UK stereo reproducers were not common until the late 60′s and all the engineering attention went into mixing tracks which would give maximum sound reproduction on small mono record players which most teenagers had in their bedrooms. So George Martin would have been most keen to closely supervise the final mixes of the mono versions of the songs because these would be listened to by the vast majority of the record buying public. He may have even farmed out the stereo mixing to an assistant or if he did do it himself it would not have been a meticulous process. All that changed with Sgt Pepper although even here to my ears the mono mix is the superior sound.However it was totally different in the US. I may be wrong but I believe that none of The Beatles’ material was released in mono format and so US fans had to wait till the mono box set or purchase UK vinyl versions to catch up on the way most of us this side of the pond first heard The Beatles’ music.

      1. Dave

        Nope, we had mono records over here in North America right up to and including ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. The ‘white album’ was the first Beatles album that was unavailable in mono in North America (except obviously as an import from the UK – if you could get one). It is somewhat interesting though – I don’t think that there were any intentional mono reissues in North America, so if you have a mono copy of any North American Beatles album, it is the original pressing.

        Also worth noting, the mono mixes available in North America were not necessarily the same as the UK mono mixes. There are a number of blatant differences between the North American and UK mono versions of songs from the ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ album… that is the album that really stands out for wildly differing mixes. To compile all of the tracks from the UK HDN album from North American albums you have to pick up the United Artists HDN album, as well as Capitol’s Something New and Beatles ’65 albums. The two latter albums are available on CD but United Artist’s HDN is still unavailable. And while I’m on this tangent, we didn’t have a true stereo mix of the song “A Hard Day’s Night” in North America until the release of the compilation album ‘Reel Music’ in 1982!

        The UK / North American mono mix differences go on right through until ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. The Canadian single version of “I am the Walrus” is edited differently that the UK single (different intro, drums pause at one point, and the four extra beats). The vocal ‘phasing’ in the chorus of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” is MUCH more pronounced on the English mono album than it is on the North American album.

        It would be great if someone drew together all of these alternate mixes onto one album. I find it interesting that they even exist.

  4. Moptop

    “Initial copies of the single had Ringo on drums, though the Andy White version became the preferred version from the release of the Beatles Hits EP on 6 September 1963″

    If I had a cent for every time I read this I would be richer than Paul McCartney.

    I have yet to find ANY evidence to support this ‘fact’ nor has any one been able to give me any other than to quote that is what ‘Lewisohn’ said.

    The matrix in the dead on the Original Demo, Red label and 4 Black label variations pressed in the 1960′s are ALL the same – 7XCE 17144-1N, the stampers change but not the master.

    If you listen to each pressing they ALL have the Ringo version.

    In 1976 the single was reissued with the Andy White / Tambourine version with a matrix of
    7XCE 17144-2.

    Why not pick up an original ‘Black label’ pressing and help re-write history before the 50th anniversary of the single release.

    1. Joe Post author

      Could you and Mark Lewisohn both be correct? He said that EMI destroyed the four-track master tape of the Ringo version, which implies that in 1963 they no longer thought it was good enough to use. But the various 1960s pressings, like you say, could have come from the original stamper anyway, which wouldn’t, in practice, have make Andy White’s one the preferred version.

      “4 Black label” – do you mean the style with the large 45 printed on it?

      BTW, you must have heard this fact around 73,000,000,000 times. I feel sorry for you!

      1. James

        4 Track recordings were only done from towards the end of 1963 on the single “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. Everything before was done on 2-Track. The “stereo” releases are actually the 2 track recordings with the Rhythm (typically bass / drum / guitar) on one side and the vocals (and sometimes lead guitar) on the other side.

    1. Buddy

      The Please Please Me album was recorded in a day and there are no know re-take of the songs of the album with the exception of Love Me Do. As I remember, they recorded twist and shout in one go for the last time because John can only sing one last song on that session before his vocal chords rip apart. According to Ringo’s recollection, he played on all the songs in the Please Please Me album except for the songs Love me do and P.S. I love you.

    2. Dave

      It is the Andy White version that appears on the Canadian “Twist and Shout” LP. It’s only the Canadian single that features the Ringo Starr version. (I still think the master tape of the Ringo version got mis-filed somewhere here in Canada… and that’s the reason why the Andy White version was ever used at all. When Parlophone set about compiling the Please Please Me album, the Ringo version was unavailable. It was in Canada. (“Love Me Do” was released in Canada in February of 1963… and incidentally sold all of 78 copies nationwide in its initial run).

  5. M. Whitener

    I find it interesting how simple this song is, but how much different it could be in arrangement. Before George Martin made the switch to McCartney bringing in the “Love Me Do” vocal solo, Lennon was doing it, w/o the harmonica solo, which would have given it a completely different sound.

    Also, the harmonica & bass dominates the solo, so is Harrison playing a standard acoustic sound here? Because in the videos I’ve seen of them performing it, John is always either not playing guitar at all and just singing/harmonica, or barely strumming along. I wonder was it different in studio.

    At any rate, classic is an understatement to this track & it serves as both the first large scale sound they made & it’s simplicity is striking as a bookend to what they’d become relativitely soon in real time after making this humble start.

  6. Bill

    Is anyone (other than record collector nuts like me) aware of the fact that in the mid-’50′s, Danny Kaye recorded & released a single also called “Love Me Do”? Same title, different song, released (ironically) on Capitol here in the US (Capitol 3603 to be precise). Just a little oddity I found interesting…

Leave a reply