Released: 11 January 1963 (UK), 10 February 1964 (US)
‘Ask Me Why’ was first released as the b-side of The Beatles’ second single ‘Please Please Me’ in 1963. Later that year it appeared on the album of the same name.
The song was written in the spring of 1962. As Paul McCartney recounted in his authorised biography:
It was John’s original idea and we both sat down and wrote it together, just did a job on it. It was mostly John’s.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
‘Ask Me Why’ was greatly influenced by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – the guitar motif that introduces the song is derived from their 1961 song ‘What’s So Good About Goodbye’.
In the US it was included on an early reissue of the Vee-Jay album Introducing The Beatles, which replaced ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘PS I Love You’ from the initial running order, replacing them with ‘Ask Me Why’ and ‘Please Please Me’. The reissue went on sale around 10 February 1964.
In the studio
The Beatles recorded an unknown number of takes of ‘Ask Me Why’ during their 6 June 1962 debut session at Abbey Road. Unfortunately EMI considered the songs to be of little consequence, and later destroyed the master tapes.
The Beatles recorded ‘Ask Me Why’ on five occasions for BBC radio. The first was on 11 June 1962, for the show Teenager’s Turn – Here We Go. It was broadcast on 15 June, along with the two other songs recorded for the show – ‘Besame Mucho’ and ‘A Picture Of You’.
The second BBC recording was made on 16 January 1963, for the renamed show Here We Go. The broadcast on 25 January featured three new Beatles recordings: ‘Chains’, ‘Please Please Me’, and ‘Ask Me Why’. A recording of ‘Three Cool Cats’ was unused.
On 22 January 1963 The Beatles recorded a third BBC version of ‘Ask Me Why’, sandwiched between new versions of ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘Some Other Guy’. The edition of The Talent Spot was broadcast a week later on 29 January.
The fourth BBC recording was made on 2 July 1963, for the fifth edition of Pop Go The Beatles. The band recorded nine songs between 6.30 and 9.30pm: ‘That’s All Right (Mama)’, ‘There’s A Place’, ‘Carol’, ‘Soldier Of Love’, ‘Lend Me Your Comb’, ‘Clarabella’, ‘Three Cool Cats’, ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’, and ‘Ask Me Why’. The last three songs were not included on the 16 July broadcast.
The Beatles recorded the final BBC rendition of ‘Ask Me Why’ on 3 September 1963, again for Pop Go The Beatles. It was first broadcast on 24 September 1963.
The episode also included an older recording of ‘She Loves You’, plus new versions of ‘Ask Me Why’, ‘Devil In Her Heart’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘Sure To Fall (In Love With You)’, and ‘Twist And Shout’.
This final version of ‘Ask Me Why’ was included on the 2013 album On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2.