Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Alamy)

Music

The Beatles song that confirmed they had "arrived"

@TylerGolsen

Every career has to start somewhere, but most careers don’t kick off with a top 20 hit. Then again, most bands aren’t The Beatles. While John Lennon and Paul McCartney had been writing songs both together and apart for a number of years up to that point, they managed to strike gold on their first under their own name when ‘Love Me Do’ peaked at number 17 on the UK singles chart in late 1962.

“‘Love Me Do’ was completely co-written,” McCartney recalled to Barry Miles in the book Many Years From Now. “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,” McCartney continued. “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.”

Lennon remembers it slightly differently. “‘Love Me Do’ is Paul’s song. He wrote it when he was a teenager,” Lennon proclaimed to David Sheff in 1980. “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.”

“Introducing our own numbers started around Liverpool and Hamburg,” Lennon also said. “‘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.” Concluding: “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.”

Although Lennon might have been a bit apprehensive, the rest of the band was over the moon when the single was pressed. “For me, that was more important than anything else,” Ringo Starr claimed in 1976. “That first piece of plastic. You can’t believe how great that was. It was so wonderful. We were on a record!”

‘Love Me Do’ would be the first step in The Beatles’ path towards world domination, and for McCartney, it was validation that The Beatles were here to stay. “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’,” McCartney claims. “That was the one. It gave us somewhere to go.”