June 6, 2012, marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first visit to Abbey Road Studios. The group, consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney George Harrison and Pete Best, arrived at what was then called EMI Studios on June 6, 1962, for a commercial test (an evaluation of a signed artist). Two days earlier, the band had signed a recording contract with “The Parlophone Company Limited of Hayes in the County of Middlesex.” The group was paid Musicians Union rates for the June 6 session, indicating that the Beatles were in fact EMI recording artists by the time they arrived at Abbey Road.
The following four songs were recording that day: Besame Mucho, P.S. I Love You, Ask Me Why and Love Me Do. The latter three songs were Lennon-McCartney originals that would later be re-recorded for commercial release, with Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You issued as the Beatles first single and Ask Me Why appearing as the B-side to the group’s second single.
Although George Martin set up the Beatles first recording session at Abbey Road, Martin’s assistant, Ron Richards, initially served as producer because he was more familiar with pop and rock ’n’ roll than Martin, whose background encompassed classical and comedy recordings. Memories differ as to when Martin appeared at the session, but all agree he was there for Love Me Do. After hearing the group perform the song, he made two significant suggestions on how to improve the song. It would be the first of many times that Martin would provide valuable input on a song’s arrangement.
TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION:
What two suggestions did George Martin make to the Beatles on June 6, 1962, regarding the group’s performance of Love Me Do?
George Martin reassigned the singing of the “Love me do” refrain that ended each verse from John to Paul. This was done because John’s harmonica playing prevented him from actually singing the word “do.” He also had the group increase the tempo of the song. In the February 9, 1963, Melody Maker Paul recalled: “When we went to London for the first recording, Love Me Do was a slow number like Halfway To Paradise [a number three 1961 U.K. hit for Billy Fury, who covered Tony Orlando’s U.S. hit], you know, DUM-di-di-di-DUM, but George Martin, our recording manager, suggested we do it faster. I’m glad we did.” These would be the first of many suggestions Martin would make over the years.