On October 5th 1962 the first single by The Beatles, ‘Love Me Do’ c/w ‘P.S. I Love You’, was released in the UK on the Parlophone label. Principally written by Paul McCartney a few years earlier, when he was 16 (John Lennon added the middle-eight), and based around 3 chords, it was the first of a run of 3 singles that featured John Lennon on harmonica – the others being ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘From Me To You’, both released the following year (the instrument, a signature of the early Beatles sound, was retired by Lennon 1965). The harmonica used had been pinched from a music shop 2 years previously in Arnhem, Holland, whilst The Beatles were on their way to their first stint in Hamburg, Germany (Aug – Dec ’60). A photograph was also taken of them that day by Barry Chang, the brother-in-law of then manager Allan Williams, as they passed through Arnhem, which would later prove to be somewhat prophetic – the then unknown band, minus Lennon, with their pre-Ringo drummer Pete Best and original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, Williams and his wife Beryl, along with Williams’ one-time partner Lord Woodbine (aka Harold Phillips), who drove the minibus they were travelling in over from Liverpool. The snapshot was taken in front of the War Memorial, on which the legend ‘Their Name Liveth For Evermore’ was carved. Lennon had stayed in the van, opting out of the photo opportunity, whilst apparently declaring himself, in another portent of the future, a pacifist.
British Pop music was very different in 1962 – nowadays we take for granted the fact that the UK has been responsible for so many innovations within Pop and Rock, but this simply couldn’t have happened without The Beatles, and subsequently other artists who first made their mark in the ’60s, like The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Animals, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, The Spencer Davis Group, The Small Faces, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin etc. Back in ’62 the country’s biggest Pop star was Cliff Richard, an Elvis Presley wannabe who ran up a string of hits following his breakthrough with ‘Move It’ in 1958, but failed to make any impression on the US market. British records, apart from the odd one-off / novelty hit, were not taken seriously over in America – the big breakthrough would come in February 1964 when The Beatles topped the US chart with ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ (just 2 months later they’d famously occupy all of the top 5 places on the US singles chart, as well as the top 2 album positions).
‘Love Me Do’ would peak at #17 in the UK, the lowest position for an original Beatles release (although it would go all the way to #1 Stateside in ’64, and to #4 on the UK chart when re-released in 1982 to mark the 20th anniversary). Legend has it that Beatles manager (and record shop owner) Brian Epstein bought thousands of copies of the single in order to push it into the chart, although this was denied by Epstein and is regarded as a myth by Merseybeat editor Bill Harry.
Love Me Do Wikipedia: