When The Beatles finally hit the mainstream, they were constantly fighting in the singles charts to gain that highly-coveted number-one single.
But in January, 1963, it finally happened when they released their third single: Please Please Me.
The track hit the airwaves on January 11, 1963, and reached the top spot in the New Musical Express and Melody Maker Charts. However, it only hit number two in the Record Retailer chart – the list that would go on to become the official UK Singles Charts. As a result, Please Please Me has since been left out of the band’s number ones compilation over the years.
With that said, the genius track came directly from one Beatles star: John Lennon – with a little production help from his friend George Martin.
Speaking to David Sheff in 1980, Lennon recalled: « Please Please Me is my song completely. » But it was used as an exercise in mimicking another songwriter.
Lennon explained: « It was my attempt at writing a Roy Orbison song, would you believe it? I wrote it in the bedroom in my house at Menlove Avenue, which was my auntie’s place. »
Usually, Lennon worked in tandem with Paul McCartney to write the Fab Four’s chart-topping hits – but this time, the Imagine singer used his own initiative to recreate Orbison’s vibe.
« I remember the day and the pink coverlet on the bed, » Lennon recalled. « And I heard Roy Orbison doing [his song] Only The Lonely or something. That’s where that came from. And also, I was always intrigued by the words of ‘Please, lend me your little ears to my pleas’ – a Bing Crosby song. I was always intrigued by the double use of the word ‘please’. So it was a combination of Bing Crosby and Roy Orbison. »
Although Please Please Me has become one of the band’s most iconic songs of all time, it almost didn’t make it out of the door once producer George Martin heard it.
Martin later remembered: « At that stage, Please Please Me was a very dreary song. It was like a Roy Orbison number, very slow, bluesy vocals. It was obvious to me that it badly needed pepping up. I told them to bring it in next time and we’d have another go at it. »
The sound engineer asked Lennon and McCartney: « Can we change the tempo? » The inexperienced lads from Liverpool bluntly replied: « What’s that? »
Martin sighed: « … Make it a bit faster. Let me try it. »
McCartney went on to admit: « And he did [change the tempo]. We thought: ‘Oh, that’s all right, yes.’ Actually, we were a bit embarrassed that he had found a better tempo than we had. »
When Please Please Me was finished and released, it was a smash hit. On top of hitting the top of the charts, it sold many copies around the world.
It shifted more than 1 million units in the USA alone, giving the band their first platinum record.