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

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.

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

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.
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