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The Beatles First Recording Session: Love Me Do

by Bruce Spizer

Celebrating The Beatles 50th Anniversary

On September 4, 1962, the Beatles entered EMI Studios at Abbey Road for the group’s first proper recording session. The band was there to record two songs intended for the Beatles debut single. Because Pete Best had been replaced a few weeks earlier, George Martin did not book a session drummer, instead opting to see what the band’s new drummer, Ringo Starr, could do. That afternoon, the group, primarily under the supervision of Ron Richards, rehearsed six songs in Studio Three, including “Love Me Do,” “P.S. I Love You,” “Ask Me Why,” “Please Please Me” and "How Do You Do It", a song given to them by Martin that had been written by a professional songwriter.

After taking a break for dinner, the Beatles entered Studio Two, where they would later go on to record the majority of their singles and album tracks. As would be the case for nearly all of their future sessions, George Martin served as producer.

The first order of business was to record an instrumental backing track for "How Do You Do It". This was apparently achieved in a single take featuring John on rhythm guitar, George on lead guitar, Paul on bass and Ringo on drums. John and Paul then overdubbed their lead vocals and the group added hand claps over the instrumental break to form Take 2.

Having completed Martin’s choice for the A-side, the Beatles were allowed to record one of their original compositions, “Love Me Do,” for the B-side. The recording of the instrumental backing did not go smoothly, with Ringo having trouble nailing down his drum part. Although studio logs no longer exist, it is believed that the group ran through over 15 takes. John and Paul then overdubbed their lead vocals and the group added hand claps during the song’s harmonica solo. The finished master most likely is an edit of two or more takes.

Both songs were mixed for mono by George Martin and Norman Smith at the end of the session. Martin also had acetates cut for each song so that he and Brian Epstein could listen to and evaluate the performances the following morning. Although the Beatles went back to Abbey Road a week later for a second recording session, the version of “Love Me Do” recorded on September 4 was eventually chosen to be the A-side of the group’s first single.

Editor's Note: On September 11, 1962, the album version of "Love Me Do" (which appeared on Please Please Me) was recorded with session drummer, Andy White, on drums and Ringo on tambourine. More details on why this happened are available in this article by Bruce Spizer.

For the 50th anniversary of the release of the "Love Me Do" single on October 5 in 2012, a collector's version of the "Love Me Do" 45 was released by EMI.

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Bruce Spizer is a Beatles historian specializing in The Beatles legacy on vinyl. He is the author of seven acclaimed books on The Beatles recordings including The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay, The Beatles Story on Capitol Records, Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records and The Beatles on Apple Records.

Visit Bruce Spizer's website at www.beatle.net and join his mailing list for more exclusive Beatles articles and weekly trivia questions.




 

 

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