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50 years of Love Me Do

THE Beatles dominated the popular music scene all through the 1960s. The four members, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were all born in Liverpool and they were influenced by the new sounds coming out of America – singers like Elvis and Chuck Berry. Amazingly, their recording career only lasted eight years but their influence still lasts. The first Beatles single was Love Me Do in 1962. The recording session for Let It Be on January 4, 1970 was their last recording session together as a band. Love Me Do was their first recording as The Beatles on their own but they had made a commercial recording the previous year in Hamburg.
They built their reputation playing in clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg in the early years of the 1960s. In 1961, they were backing a singer named Tony Sheridan and they got the job of backing him on a recording. They worked on five or six tracks and Polydor choose My Bonnie for release in Germany. Those recordings were not in studio but rather a school hall. It was released in Germany as Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers. When it was released in England, the credits were for Tony Sheridan and The Beatles.
It did not sell very well except in Liverpool, where there were reasonable sales in their local market. Much more importantly, it brought the group to the attention of manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin. The rest is history. After they had made a name for themselves, My Bonnie finally made it into the charts for one week and reached number 48.
Their appeal came as much from their appearance and hairstyle as from their music. Very quickly, they were being followed around by thousands of fans and Beatlemania was born. For the next eight years, they released 22 singles, 13 EPs and 12 studio albums. Most of their recordings such as She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand were written by Lennon and McCartney but many of them were written mainly by one of them, with the other having minimal input.
It was inevitable they would turn their attention to the United States. In spite of their European popularity, Capitol Records were reluctant to release any of their singles in the US. Eventually, because of huge demand, they agreed to release I Want To Hold Your Hand and accompany it with advertising and TV appearances. The result was phenomenal. One-and-a-half million copies were sold in just three weeks. Their tour the following month, after five million posters were used nationwide, was marked by sold-out concerts and wild scenes. From then on, they could do nothing wrong and in 1964, they had five straight number-one singles.
The end was in sight by 1970. They were no longer performing in public and were beginning to have their own individual projects. January 1970 was their last recoding session and in December, Paul McCartney started moves to end the band and The Beatles broke up. Their impact on popular music continues to this day.
Their very first single was Love Me Do. The final recording session for that single was on September 11, 1962 – 50 years ago this week.
Michael Torpey


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