When was the “Love Me Do” master tape lost?

To recap: Two versions of the Beatles’ recording of “Love Me Do” for EMI are common (and then there’s the Pete Best one on Anthology 1 from June 6th). One of them had Ringo on drums. The other one had Andy White on drums, and Ringo on a tambourine. Whenever you hear “Love Me Do”, listen for the tambourine. If you can hear it, you’ll know it’s the version with Andy White on drums. If there’s no tambourine present, you’re listening to the one with Ringo Starr on drums. The Ringo version was the first release, it’s the original 1962 Parlophone single 45 – R4949.

The initial pressings for the Parlophone “Love Me Do” singles had red labels with silver print. The catalog number for these pressings is listed on the right side of the label (at the 3 o’clock position) as 45-R 4949. The “45-R” designation identifies it as a 45rpm single and not a 78rpm disc, which were still in use in the U.K. at this time. By 1963 EMI no longer manufactured 78rpm records, and this designation was not longer needed. This is why later pressings of the the “Love Me Do” single only have R 4949 as the catalog number.

A promotional single was pressed prior to the release to the public, and it had a misspelling which was corrected before the general release of the single.

McCartney was spelt McArtney on the demo record

When the album “Please Please Me” was released in March, 1963, the song “Love Me Do” was included. However, for the album, producer George Martin elected to use the Andy White version of the song. Or maybe he had to…. More about that later.

If you hear Ringo Starr tell this story in interviews, he is always telling it wrong, he thinks he’s on the album and White’s on the single, but he’s got it backwards. It has later come to light that the master tape of the Ringo version of “Love Me Do” went missing, and it still hasn’t been found. Later releases of the Ringo version of the song have all used an original single as source, including the most recent one on the 2009 Beatles remasters collection.

In America, EMI’s subsidiary Capitol records declined the offer to release “Love Me Do,” but Canada released it on their Capitol of Canada label on February 4, 1963 (Capitol of Canada 72076). It would not be until the first few months of 1964, when “Beatlemania” awoke in the U.S., that Americans would become aware of the song. When the Canadian single started charting as an import in America, Vee Jay records issued it as a single on their Tollie subsidiary label on April 27, 1964 (Tollie T-9008). By May 30, 1964, the single topped the U.S. Billboard charts. The Canadian single was the version with Ringo on drums. The Canadians were sent a UK single (probably the misspelled promo) to use as master for their pressing.

The same is true for the Norwegian pressing from 1964, where even the misspelling carried over from the UK promo label to the official Norwegian label.

McArtney reappears

Based on all these pieces of evidence, I have come to the conclusion that the original Love Me Do master tape featuring Ringo on drums is likely to have been destroyed as early as in 1962. This explains why George Martin had to use the Andy White version on the album in 1963. Someone probably thought that the single was never going to be reissued, and ditched the master – or more likely used the tape to record something or other over it. Now, go ahead and prove me wrong!

Recently, all three original “Love Me Do” drummers have rerecorded the song. Ringo made his own version of “Love Me Do” on the album “Vertical Man”, and also Pete Best’s Band has a version

To top it off, here’s Andy White (81 at the time) drumming on “Love Me Do” all over again in a 2010 video recording:

7 Responses

  1. Dogma says:

    wow!! so cool to learn about this stuff but if what you say it's true, how come that the anthology series says that Ringo came to the studio expecting yo play but GMartin didn't let him so the first one on drums was White not Ringo and so the single was first than the album, right?? are they wrong??

  2. wogew says:

    From the Wikipedia entry on "Love Me Do":
    "Love Me Do" was recorded by the Beatles on three different occasions with three different drummers:

    The Beatles first recorded it on 6 June 1962 with Pete Best on drums, as part of their audition at EMI Studios at 3 Abbey Road in London. This version (previously thought to be lost) is available on Anthology 1.
    By 4 September, Best had been replaced with Ringo Starr (producer George Martin did not approve of Best's drumming; the decision to fire Best was not his, however), and on that day the Beatles with Starr recorded a version again at EMI Studios.
    One week later, on 11 September, the Beatles returned to the same studio and they made a recording of "Love Me Do" with session drummer Andy White on drums, as Martin was unhappy with Starr's performance on 4 September and he was relegated to playing tambourine. As the tambourine was not included on the 4 September recording, this is the easiest way to distinguish between the Starr and White recordings.

  3. bri286 says:

    Hi Roger.

    This is not a comment on the "love Me Do" piece, but this seems to be the easiest way to contact you directly…

    Firstly – thanks a million for your superb blog, of which I've been a fan for several years; you're certainly the first place I look for Beatle news! I'm a particular fan of Purple Chick, so I'm always looking for updates on new releases, etc.

    Secondly – I'm hoping that you'll be able to help me with a problem I've encountered since a recent external hard disc crash lost me all my Purple Chick material (and just about every other FLAC file I had…). Thankfully I'd already committed every PC release to CD so I have the recordings and can EAC them back to my computer, and I've recovered the main artwork from BootlegZone via the Purple Chick site, but the one thing I don't seem to be able to find online is the majority of the disc labels, which I believe is your speciality…

    Could you possibly assist by directing me to the right place(s) to find these, so that I can complete my collection?

    Best regards


  4. The Fab 4 says:

    Another possible whereabouts of the master tape. What with it being released in Canada and Norway etc. Is it possible that EMI simply sent them the master without making a copy? I know a similar thing happend with the 2 track tape for FBI by The Shadows. There is no stereo tape for that in the EMI archive and yet it exists on an a US surf guitar compilation from the 60's.

  5. georgefromhenley says:

    Hi – in Germany they had for the March 1963 release the Ringo version too. The reason was simple. They got the order to transfer the record "until the tape comes". The tape was wiped in October 62 and there was no tape to wait for… Also the German "Beatles Hits" EP had that Ringo version.

  6. M H Wilson says:

    It was common practice for EMI to destroy the master after the record was released. This soon changed after Love Me Do (maybe that had something to do with EMI decided not to destroy the master tape after that).

  7. . says:

    “Anthology 1” has Pete Best, “Past Masters 1” has Ringo, and “Please Please Me” has Andy.

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