The Paul McCartney Project

Please Please Me / Ask Me Why

By The Beatles7" Single• Part of the collection “The Beatles • Singles

Timeline See what happened in 1963
UK release date:
Jan 11, 1963
US release date:
Feb 25, 1963
Sessions This album has been recorded during the following sessions

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Track list

Disc 1


1.

Please Please Me

Written by Lennon - McCartney

2:03 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Harmonica, Lead vocals, Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 26, 1962
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 30, 1962
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


2.

Ask Me Why

Written by Lennon - McCartney

2:25 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 26, 1962
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 30, 1962
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

About

From Wikipedia:

UK release

The new single was released in the UK on 11 January 1963 during one of the worst winters in British history and on 12 January most of the population were snowed-in at home watching the Beatles perform the song on the Saturday night TV show, Thank Your Lucky Stars. The national exposure of the song, as well as the unusual appearance and hair style of the group, brought the band a lot of attention and they were booked by promoter Arthur Howes for a series of national tours. The first tour was as a support band to Helen Shapiro in February, then Tommy Roe and Chris Montez in March, and Roy Orbison in May and, during breaks in the touring schedule, the Beatles performed the song on a number of BBC national radio programmes. All of these factors, along with extensive press coverage, propelled the single to the top of most of the British charts and the Beatles, much to their embarrassment, were moved to the top of the bill on the Tommy Roe and Roy Orbison tours.

Original US release

Capitol Records, EMI’s United States label, was offered the right to release “Please Please Me” in the US, but turned it down. Instead, it was placed with Transglobal, an EMI affiliate that worked to place foreign masters with US record labels. It was told to find an American outlet for the record as quickly as possible, in order to appease Martin and Beatles manager Brian Epstein. “Please Please Me” was then offered to Atlantic, which also rejected it. Finally, Vee-Jay, which had released the top-five hit “I Remember You” by Frank Ifield in 1962 (another record that Capitol had turned down), was offered the right to issue “Please Please Me” in the States, and chose to do so. The exact date of the US issue was lost for decades, but research published in 2004 showed that the single, “Please Please Me“/”Ask Me Why“, was released by Vee-Jay on 7 February 1963, coincidentally exactly one year before the Beatles’ plane landed in New York on their first visit as a band to America.

Dick Biondi, a disc jockey on WLS in Chicago and a friend of Vee-Jay executive Ewart Abner, played the song on the radio from February 1963, perhaps as early as 8 February 1963, thus becoming the first DJ to play a Beatles record in the United States. Art Roberts, legendary DJ and music director at the time, tells how the record came to be played first at the station: “Let me tell you the story of ‘Please Please Me’. The record was released on the Vee-Jay label. It was a local Chicago recording company. The owner, Ewart Abner, brought a copy of the record to WLS. I was the music director at the time and listened to his story about a group, and looked at pictures in teen magazines he brought back from England. I figured, what if this group would get as popular in the United States as they were in England and Europe. So I added the record to the list.

On WLS “Please Please Me” peaked at number 35 on 15 March on the second of its two weeks on the “Silver Dollar Survey“, in addition to its two airplay weeks. However, the song did not chart on any other major national American survey until 1964.

The first pressings of the Vee-Jay single, which was assigned the catalog number 498, featured a typographical error: the band’s name was spelled “The Beattles” with two “t”s. WLS used this spelling on its Silver Dollar Surveys in 1963. Later copies of the single corrected this. Also, the composers on the Vee-Jay edition were credited on both sides as “J. Lennon-P. McCartney“, unlike on the UK Parlophone edition (which listed the names in the reverse order). However, with the exception of Chicago, the record was a flop as it sold approximately 7,310 copies. Today, copies of Vee-Jay 498 — whether with the incorrect or correct spelling of the Beatles on the label — are valuable collector’s items.

Second US release

In the wake of the rush-release of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in the United States, Vee-Jay reissued “Please Please Me” on or about 3 January 1964, after footage of the Beatles had appeared on a television program hosted by Jack Paar. Playing it safe, the label chose to put “From Me to You” on the B-side, as Del Shannon’s version had been a minor hit in 1963. The new single was issued with the catalog number 581.

This time, “Please Please Me” was a massive hit, eventually peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending 14 March 1964, trailing only “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You“. It was one of the songs that comprised the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 of 4 April, when the Beatles held all of the top five spots.

Because Vee-Jay wanted to get as many copies of the record pressed as quickly as possible, it did not insist on uniformity from one pressing plant to another. As a result, a dizzying number of label variations exist. Some of these added a comma to the song title, rendering it as “Please, Please Me“. Additionally, some copies of the record were issued with a picture sleeve. Early promotional copies had a special sleeve proclaiming “Please Please Me” as “The Record That Started Beatlemania“. The text on the sleeve noted that the Beatles had just appeared on Paar’s program and were scheduled to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show in February. This sleeve is considered to be extremely rare.

At least 1.1 million copies of the reissue were sold. If Vee-Jay had been a member of the RIAA, the single would have been certified gold.

Last updated on February 13, 2016


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