October 5, 2012 will herald the golden anniversary of the release of ‘Love Me Do’, The Beatles' debut 7" single for EMI in 1962.
This celebration will kick off a series of 50th anniversary celebrations of Beatles events and releases from Friday, October 5, 2012 right through to April 2020. Most of these events are sure to receive widespread media coverage as The Beatles prove to be just as relevant to today’s generation as they were to the 1960s generation. But exactly what was so different about this 7" circumference of black vinyl released to very little fanfare in October 1962?
There was something utterly original in its performance and in its reflection of its influences. Half a century after its release, the recording still sounds remarkably fresh. Investigating the events that led to the single’s release reveals a fascinating insight into the fledgling relationship between EMI and The Beatles camp, demonstrating each side’s ability to adapt quickly to new departures while remaining true to their respective principles.
Despite moderate success – particularly with comedy acts such as The Goons – EMI producer George Martin was looking for something different to offer his modest Parlophone label in 1962. Decca Records had famously turned The Beatles down earlier that year, crucially however, the group's manager Brian Epstein had retained possession of the audition tape funded by Decca. After being shown the door by most major UK labels, Epstein was referred to George Martin during a chance meeting which changed the fortunes of all parties involved.
Martin recognised the X factor which Decca Records had been deaf to, even if he didn’t yet realise what it was. What piqued the producer’s interest was the rough sound of beat music, an emerging – as yet unrecorded – style of music which emphasized heavy back beat drumming and loud instrumentation infused with live energy. A prototype of late 1970s punk music, beat music would be pivotal in the evolution of rock and roll into rock, and would carry an army of British Beat groups across the Atlantic during the mid-1960s.
Yet, The Beatles' debut single was far from representative of their beat music stage performances. More country-blues than R&B or rock and roll, how ‘Love Me Do’ became their first 7” release is an interesting tale of self belief and a small leap of faith.