After two successful singles in the UK – “Please, Please, Me” and “Love Me Do” – the Beatles released their first LP on this day 53 years ago, entitled Please, Please, Me. By then the working-class rock band of Liverpool, composed of John Lennon (1940-1980), Paul McCartney (1942-), George Harrison (1943-2001) and Ringo Starr (1940-), had already acquired some degree of fame. They had formed in 1960 (Ringo Starr joined them later in August 1962) and begun their career by playing in clubs, first in Liverpool, then also in Hamburg. Their exchange with other musicians in Germany helped them find their style, a mixture of skiffle, rock n’ roll, and beat, while their first manager Brian Epstein (1934-1967), who would help them on their road to fame, discovered them in Liverpool’s Cavern Club late in 1961.
It was actually in this club, where the Beatles had had over 300 performances, that Epstein wanted to make a live recording for the LP. However, the club’s acoustics were mediocre and time was pressing, so EMI Studios in Abbey Road, London, were booked for 11 February instead, and over 10 songs (plus the four from their already released singles) were recorded in less than 13 hours, a record. On 22 March 1963, an LP mono version was released on the Parlophone label in the UK, to be followed by a stereo version six weeks later – the first time that the mono version came out first. More about the release story of this first album can be found here.
Six of the 14 songs were by other composers, while John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote and composed the other eight. More here.
By May 1963, the album was top on the UK charts, where it remained for 30 weeks before being replaced by the Beatles’ next album With the Beatles. It took not long for what came to be known as the “Beatlemania” to erupt, a fan frenzy involving females screaming and going into hysterics at the sight of their idols, mass stage invasion, etc., assuming at times life-threatening proportions for the band.
The first signs of this kind of fan obsession were discernible when the Beatles arrived for a nine-day tour at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, in February 1964. By 1966, the band no longer performed live if they could help it.
Although initially influenced by rock stars of their day – Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, to name but a few – the Beatles outgrew these and developed their own richly diverse, rhythmic style that served as an example to others. By the time they formally disbanded in 1970, they had become a legend in the History of Modern Rock Music, with undeniable influence on popular culture (an example).
You may enjoy reading the following:
- A Biography in the Rolling Stone magazine
- The Beatles’ Ultimate Experience
- BBC’s “From Fab Four to Fabulous Wealth”
- Mikal Gilmore’s article about Rock in the 1960s
- Legacies of the 1960s