The song was written by Spector, Ellie Greenwich, and Jeff Barry, and was first released as a single by The Ronettes in 1963. In the United States it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and number four on the Record Retailer chart in the United Kingdom.
In 1973 Spector produced a number of recordings for Lennon’s Rock ‘N’ Roll album. Inspired by Cher’s version of The Ronettes’ ‘Baby I Love You’, he slowed down ‘Be My Baby’ and another of his hits, ‘To Know Her Is To Love Her’. Never one to underuse a recording technique, the trick was repeated on ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’, ‘Bony Moronie’, ‘You Can’t Catch Me’, and ‘Since My Baby Left Me’.
In the knowledge that John Lennon and Yoko Ono were separated at the time ‘Be My Baby’ was recording, the funereal pace and cathartic pleading transforms the song from being an account of teenage desire into a desperate plea for acceptance.
The decision not to include ‘Be My Baby’ on Rock ‘N’ Roll remains may have been due to its relative newness. The song features some of Lennon’s most impassioned vocals from the sessions, and stripped of the Wall of Sound backing it would not have sounded out of place on 1970’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.
The song did appear on Roots: John Lennon Sings The Great Rock & Roll Hits, a rare mail-order album containing rough mixes of the sessions. The collection was released by music publisher Morris Levy and followed legal action over The Beatles song ‘Come Together’’s similarity to Chuch Berry’s ‘You Can’t Catch Me’, a song owned by Levy. Roots was briefly available in January 1975 before EMI blocked its sale.