The Beatles began well-deserved vacations on May 2, 1964. During the first part of the year, the Beatles had: played three weeks of concerts in Paris, France; conquered America with record-setting appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, successful concerts at the Washington Coliseum and Carnegie Hall, saturation radio air play, incredible record sales and total chart domination; recorded several high-quality original songs; released a new world-wide single, Can’t Buy Me Love; filmed a movie for United Artists; and somehow managed to do numerous television and radio interviews and performances. And that was just the first four months of the year!
Meanwhile, in America, Vee-Jay’s release of Love Me Do on its Tollie subsidiary was moving towards becoming the Beatles next big hit in America. The song, coupled with P.S. I Love You, had been the Beatles first single a year and a half earlier on Parlophone 45-R 4949, which was issued on October 5, 1962. The single did reasonably well for a debut disc, but only reached #17 on the U.K. charts. Capitol Records passed on the single in the U.S., although Capitol of Canada did release the disc in early 1963, which initially yielded sales of less than one hundred units and extremely limited radio air play.
Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You first appeared in the U.S. as album tracks on the first pressings of Vee-Jay’s Introducing The Beatles album, which pulled 12 tracks from the 14-track Please Please Me LP issued in the U.K. Although Vee-Jay had planned to release the album in the summer of 1963, it was not actually released until January 10, 1964. Vee-Jay quickly encountered an unanticipated problem when Beechwood Music Corporation, the publisher of the two songs in America and a subsidiary of Capitol, refused to grant Vee-Jay a mechanical license to release sound recordings of the songs. Beechwood sued Vee-Jay, forcing Vee-Jay to reconfigure its Introducing The Beatles album with the two songs being replaced by Please Please Me and Ask Me Why. Thus, by the end of February 1964, Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You were no longer available for purchase in America.
The void was soon filled in March 1964 when copies of the Canadian Love Me Do single began appearing in stores as an import single. These discs were being sold at prices between $1.25 to $1.75, a hefty premium over the normal 69¢ to 98¢ range for singles. Despite the high price, the Canadian disc began working its way up the American charts and would have continued its rise had Vee-Jay not settled its litigation with Capitol.
During early 1964, Vee-Jay had been pulling songs off its album for release as singles, including Twist And Shout and Do You Want To Know A Secret. Vee-Jay wanted to issue Love Me Do as a single, but could not do so until its legal issues with Capitol and Beechwood were resolved. Under the terms of a settlement reached between Vee-Jay and Capitol/Beechwood on April 1, 1964, Vee-Jay was given permission to issue the single Love Me Do b/w P.S. I Love You on Tollie T-9008. The Tollie single began appearing in stores during the second half of April 1964. Distributors, record stores and consumers shifted to the American single due to its lower cost.
Although Love Me Do had stalled at number 17 on the U.K. charts, things were different in America because the single was issued at a time when anything Beatles was destined to be a huge hit. By May 30, Love Me Do was number one in the Billboard Hot 100. Cash Box and Record World also reported the single at number one. The single would have been certified gold had Vee-Jay allowed the RIAA to examine its accounting records to certify sales. My review of Vee-Jay sales ledgers indicated sales of over 1,175,000 units.
Before turning to this week’s questions, I have an announcement regarding the future of my “50 Years Ago” email articles. Fifty years ago the Beatles went on extended vacation in May 1964. I plan to do the same at this time. I will continue to write and email my “50 Years Ago” articles, but only as events happening 50 years ago merit attention. You can also read my extended “50 years Ago” articles in Beatlefan magazine. If you do not already subscribe to Beatlefan, you should consider doing so. It is well worth the modest subscription price.
Read more in the The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay – Digital Edition
Today’s questions cover the Love Me Do single.
- Identify the drummer on the following releases of Love Me Do.
A. Parlophone single
B. Canadian single
C. Please Please Me LP
D. Introducing The Beatles
E. Tollie single
F. Version recorded first time Beatles were at Abbey Road
2. Who took the color photograph that inspired the drawing used on Tollie Love Me Do picture sleeve?
3. Who was the artists that drew the portrait of the Beatles used on Tollie Love Me Do picture sleeve?
[expand REVEAL THE ANSWERS]
- A. Ringo played drums on the version of Love Me Do used for the Parlophone single. B. The Canadian single was dubbed from the Parlophone single, so it also has Ringo on drums. C. The version of Love Me Do used for the Please Please Me LP has session drummer Andy White on drums and Ringo on tambourine. D. Introducing The Beatles was assembled from a master tape for the Please Please Me LP, so it also has Andy White on drums. E. The Tollie single pulled its tracks from Introducing The Beatles, so it also has Andy White on drums. F. The version of Love Me Do recorded at the Beatles first appearance at Abbey Road has Pete Best on drums.
- The color photograph (shown below) that inspired the drawing used on the Love Me Do picture sleeve was taken by Dezo Hoffmann.
- The artist who drew the portrait of the Beatles used on the Love Me Do picture sleeve was Jim Johnson.