Love Me Do

In the studio

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The Beatles recorded Love Me Do over three sessions. The first was at their EMI audition on 6 June 1962, featuring Pete Best on drums.

They returned to the song during the 4 September session, where it was considered for release along with How Do You Do It. The group tackled it again on 11 September, after which it was deemed good enough for release as a single.

Although Ringo Starr had played drums on 4 September, George Martin brought in a session drummer, Andy White, for the subsequent recording; Ringo was relegated to tambourine.

On my first visit in September we just ran through some tracks for George Martin. We even did Please Please Me. I remember that, because while we were recording it I was playing the bass drum with a maraca in one hand and a tambourine in the other. I think it's because of that that George Martin used Andy White, the 'professional', when we went down a week later to record Love Me Do. The guy was previously booked, anyway, because of Pete Best. George didn't want to take any more chances and I was caught in the middle.

I was devastated that George Martin had his doubts about me. I came down ready to roll and heard, 'We've got a professional drummer.' He has apologised several times since, has old George, but it was devastating - I hated the bugger for years; I still don't let him off the hook!

Ringo Starr

The presence of the tambourine is the easiest way to distinguish the two recordings. 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. To consolidate the decision EMI destroyed the master tapes of the 4 September recording.

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.

George got his way and Ringo didn't drum on the first single. He only played tambourine.

I don't think Ringo ever got over that. He had to go back up to Liverpool and everyone asked, 'How did it go in the Smoke?' We'd say, 'B-side's good,' but Ringo couldn't admit to liking the a-side, not being on it.

Paul McCartney

The relegation of Ringo wasn't the only change made by George Martin to the song.

George Martin said, 'Can anyone play harmonica? It would be rather nice. Couldn't think of some sort of bluesy thing, could you, John?' John played a chromatic harmonica, not a Sonny Boy Williamson blues harmonica, more Max Geldray from the Goon Show...

The lyrics crossed over the harmonica solo so I suddenly got thrown the big open line, 'Love me do', where everything stopped. Until that session John had always done it; I didn't even know how to sing it. I'd never done it before. George Martin just said, 'You take that line, John take the harmonica, you cross over, we'll do it live'...

I can still hear the nervousness in my voice! We were downstairs in number two studio and I remember looking up to the big window afterwards and George Martin was saying, 'Jolly good.'

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Chart success

The single reached number 17 in the UK charts, with sales mainly concentrated in and around Liverpool.

There were enough fans of The Beatles around because we were playing all over the Wirral, Cheshire, Manchester and Liverpool. We were quite popular, so the sales were real.

First hearing Love Me Do on the radio sent me shivery all over. It was the best buzz of all time. We knew it was going to be on Radio Luxembourg at something like 7.30 on Thursday night. I was in my house in Speke and we all listened in. That was great, but after having got to 17, I don't recall what happened to it. It probably went away and died, but what it meant was that the next time we went to EMI, they were more friendly: 'Oh, hello lads. Come in.'

George Harrison

There were persistent rumours that Brian Epstein had bulk-bought around 10,000 copies to increase its chart ranking, but these remain unproven.

The best thing was it came into the charts in two days and everybody thought it was a fiddle, because our manager's stores sent in these returns and everybody down south though, 'Ah-ha, he's buying them himself or he's just fiddling the charts.' But he wasn't.
John Lennon, 1963

36 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…

  7. sina

    For me, it’s the perfect song. It’s like music 101. So simple….but so brilliant. Just listen to the harmonies of Paul and John (I always sing the John’s notes as the harmonies are always the best notes), just two people singing notes in different directions, but so effective. It re-opened my eyes in the simplest purest way. PURE PERFECTION!!

  8. Mike

    We need to make some adjustments to the credits for the tracks on the first LP, “Please Please Me”.
    All of the original Beatles songs are credited “McCartney-Lennon” on this LP, both on the sleeve and the disc itself.
    The switch to “Lennon- McCartney” came about afterwards so as to be read alphabetically.
    The earliest numbers were credited with Paul’s name first.

  9. Biased John Lennon fan

    John is the star of this song with his lead vocals throughout the verses and instantly recognizable harmonica riff.
    You can tell John is singing the melody by the way his voice naturally descends on “do”, while Paul’s voice rises, a typical sign of harmony. For some reason, George Martin wouldn’t let John overdub the harmonica (like he did on I’ll Get You),
    So instead of hearing John’s bluesy voice at the end, we are treated to an extremely forced “Love Me Do” from Paul. Ringo’s tambourine really gives this song a 1965 feel even if the lyrics betray its 1950s elements. George isn’t really heard on this track, definitely a “vocal” song.

  10. Daniel Siddall

    So tired of pretentious purists who continually spout off that “mono is better”. Hey! Let’s all jump on the popular-opinion bandwagon! This is the trend now…..analog is better than digital….records are better than CDs……your mom’s old console TV is better than plasma…. and anything from the “old days” is better than everything now. Tiresome and cliched.

    I grew up in the “old days”. I loved records, 8-tracks, cassettes and then CDs. But I will never be foolish enough to say 8-tracks were better than CDs. Besides, they are all just blank canvases, and only as good as the material put on them. I have heard pristine, gorgeous sounding records and $hitty sounding CDs. But as technology improves, so does the potential for cleaner, more pristine sound reproduction. To say otherwise is to be a slave to the current fad of denouncing everything new and glorying everything old.

    1. Joe Post author

      Good idea, but I’m not sure whose handclaps they are – so it’s difficult to credit them accurately. It can’t be John because he’s playing harmonica, so my guess is Paul (the vocals were overdubbed after the backing track was laid down, so he would have had nothing to do during the solo).

  11. Graham Paterson

    Great number that kick started The Beatles climb to be the “toppermost of the poppermost”. Basically a Paul song. but with great input from John, especially his wonderful harmonica playing.


    Maybe it was Paul’s nerves. On the version on the PLEASE PLEASE ME album(youtube link below), if you listen very carefully to the following you will hear a slight flaw in the pitch on the word DO sung by Paul in one place. Just after the harmonica solo, Paul and Jon sing the words LOVE ME DO. On the word DO, Paul slightly over pitches the intended G note. It may have been beacuse of the first experience adjusting to singing on pitch while listeneing to yourself on headphones and a combination of coming back in after a break in singing while John blew his solo.

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