Buddy Holly wrote his own songs. Chuck Berry wrote his own songs. Little Richard wrote his own songs. Paul McCartney and John Lennon, being devoted followers of all three, began writing their own songs early, and often. McCartney wrote rough versions of “I’ll Follow the Sun” and “When I’m Sixty-Four” in about 1957. And many of the originals from the Beatles first album were written by John and Paul around that same time. They knew that it set them apart from the other up-and-coming bands.
But rock n’ roll had changed drastically by 1960. Holly was dead, Berry was in jail, Little Richard had become a preacher, and Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll himself, had become a balladeer, more interested in making movies than creating a movement. Rock n’ Roll was in trouble. Balladeers singing already-proven hit songs were running the charts. Nothing new was happening!
Fast-forward to September 1962. The Beatles had just been brought in to record their first professional single at Abbey Road Studio. In June of that year, during their audition, they had brought in a number of original songs that they intended to show off. After playing them all, producer George Martin did not think any of them were strong enough to be a single. He also did not like their drummer, Pete Best.
When the Beatles came back in September with Ringo Starr on the skins, Martin suggested a song called “How Do You Do It?” written by Mitch Murray, a professional songwriter. So the Beatles came in and recorded the song. But they knew it did not suit them. They insisted on having another go at a song they had submitted in June, “Love Me Do”, and they continued to argue for it until they got their way.
Their first single, “Love Me Do” was their own song, as was it’s b-side “P.S. I Love You”. Gerry and the Pacemakers went on to success of their own with “How Do You Do It?” but not as much success as the Beatles. The Beatles version of the song can be heard on the Beatles Anthology 1 CD, disc one.
The version of “Love Me Do” recorded on Sept. 4 would become the Beatles first single, but another version would be recorded for the Beatles first album, Please Please Me a week later. It seems that Martin did not like Ringo’s drumming either, at this point, and brought in a professional session drummer, Andy White.
Many fans now point out how painfully simple and repetitive “Love Me Do” is. This may be true, but the Beatles had taken creative control from day one, and went on to inspire generations of musicians to sing their own songs, and do your own thing. September 4, 1962 is certainly the day “The Sixties” began, at least for rock n’ roll.