Growing up and buying our first music in the wake of the Beatles break-up and with my brother a huge fan, I developed quite an in-depth knowledge of their music and history and enjoy their stuff to this day. My preference has always been their ‘middle years’ of Revolver and Rubber Soul, but over time I have appreciated everything they did. It is hard to think that they started 50 years ago.
As noted at the Guardian UK, today marks the 50th anniversary of that release. Here is a bit of what they said:
Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ newly appointed manager, had hawked the band around almost every other London record company before striking lucky with the small Parlophone label. Parlophone’s boss, George Martin, had previously been best known for releasing comedy records with Peter Sellers and the Goons, but was looking for a “beat group” in the mould of Cliff Richard and the Shadows.
In those days, recording studios had the clinical atmosphere of laboratories and the producer’s word was law. At the Beatles’ audition three months earlier, Martin had ordained their first release: not a Lennon-McCartney composition but How Do You Do It? by “professional” songwriter Mitch Murray. When they returned in September, Martin yielded to their pleas to record Love Me Do rather than How Do You Do It? (which later became a number one for fellow Liverpudlians Gerry and the Pacemakers.)
The single was released on October 5, 1962, with barely any promotion from EMI. The (well-substantiated) story goes that Epstein ordered 10,000 copies for his Liverpool record shop, enough to push it into the Top 20 and 10 times more than he could ever sell. It also became a dance favourite throughout Britain’s two ballroom chains, Mecca and Top Rank. Even so, it got no higher than number 17.
For the Beatles, its real importance was cementing their relationship with George Martin, a producer who was to be of crucial importance to the end of their collective career. When they returned to Abbey Road with a new Lennon-McCartney song, Please Please Me, Martin offered no objection. At the end of the session, he told them: “Gentlemen, you have just made your first number one.” And he was right.
Here is that first single, Love Me Do
And here is the B-side, P.S. I Love You
What is your favorite Beatles song? If I could choose two (and since I am writing this I will) I would choose the following:
If I Needed Someone, from Rubber Soul
Tomorrow Never Knows, from Revolver