Brian Epstein formally became The Beatles’ manager in mid January 1962, although he had been working on their behalf before that. On January 1st 1962, they had auditioned with Decca but had been rejected. Brian Epstein hawked the Decca audition tape to many other labels but without success. On one of his many visits to London, he decided to go to HMV in Oxford Street as he knew it was possible to transfer tape to an acetate disc and that would be easier to carry around.
Jim Foy, who operated the disc cutter, liked the sound of the songs and when Brian Epstein mentioned that three of the songs (“Hello Little Girl”, “Like Dreamers Do” and “Love Of The Love”) were originals, he told him that a music publisher, Ardmore and Beechwood, had offices upstairs. Would Brian Epstein like to meet with them?
Although Brian Epstein knew that John Lennon and Paul McCartney were not interested in only being songwriters, he kept in touch with Ardmore and Beechwood. A song plugger called Kim Bennett realised that Ardmore and Beechwood could use their parent company, EMI, to pay for the promotion of these new songs. If EMI could put a record out, it could be paid for by the promotional budget of Ardmore and Beechwood. In this way, Brian Epstein’s group would get a record deal and Ardmore and Beechwood would own the publishing rights which, if they got a big artist to record the songs, could be a big earner. The problem was, which label would take on The Beatles.
George Martin was a well established producer of novelty records at Parlophone, an EMI subsidiary (working with The Goons, Bernard Cribbins, The Temperance Seven etc.). However, the Managing Director of EMI, Len Wood disapproved of George Martin’s extra marital affair with Judy Lockhart Smith. On the other hand, Wood’s boss, Sir Joseph Lockwood was a big fan of George Martin which meant that he couldn’t be fired. In order to put him in his place, and to appease the determined lobbying from Kim Bennett, Len Wood ordered George Martin to offer a recording contract to The Beatles.
George Martin offered to meet The Beatles on 6th June 1962. It’s not clear whether or not this was an audition or their first recording session. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote two new songs for the session, “P.S. I Love You” and “Love Me Do”. During the session The Beatles recorded these two songs along with “Ask Me Why” and “Besame Mucho”, a Mexican song which they had also played on their 1st January audition tape for Decca. After the session, George Martin decided that their own material and Pete Best’s drumming weren’t good enough. I’m no expert but, as an example, the drumming between 1:35 and 2:00 does sound a bit odd.
Before the next session, Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr. The other three members of The Beatles didn’t have a long history with Pete Best, only getting him to join them in Hamburg at the last minute because their contract was for a five piece band (Stuart Sutcliffe being in the band already). They were happy to have an excuse (George Martin’s poor opinion of Pete Best) to get their mate Ringo Starr into the group.
For their next session with George Martin, on 4th September, The Beatles had been told to prepare “How Do You Do It” for release as their new single. This song was written by Mitch Murray. Although they hated the song, they made a recording of it and made another recording of “Love Me Do”, with Ringo Starr on drums, thinking this would be the B side. This version was later released as the A side of their first single. It’s an undisputed fact that Ringo Starr’s version was used in the first pressings of the single. What isn’t clear is when, or if, a different version was used in later pressings of the single. This song is available on “The Beatles Past Masters Volume One”. To recognise the difference between this version and other versions, listen to the drumming at the end of the instrumental break at 1:52
The Beatles begged George Martin to let them release their own material as the A side but he stood firm. However, when Ardmore and Beechwood realised that there would be no Lennon/McCartney song as the A side, they were furious and Mitch Murray wasn’t sure he wanted “How Do You Do It” as a B side. So George Martin got back in touch with The Beatles and said that they could have their way and would they come back in for another recording on 11th September.
Having been underwhelmed by Pete Best’s drumming in June and noticing a few errors that Ringo Starr made when attempting “Please Please Me” on 4th September (a song he’d never heard before), George Martin got in a session musician, Andy White, for the 11th September session. Andy White was a well regarded session musician and, as it happens later married Lyn Cornell who went on to have a hit with “We Love You Beatles” as a member of The Carefrees.
The version of “Love Me Do” that appeared on The Beatles’ first album, “Please Please Me”, is the version with Andy White playing drums and Ringo Starr playing tambourine. To recognise the difference between this version and other versions, listen to the drumming at the end of the instrumental break at 1:49
So that’s the story of “Love Me Do”. Three different versions with three different drummers. It got to Number 17 in the Charts and the world would never be the same again.