Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1962, September 11: Back-Story



(above) drummer Andy White

Surprise!

There can be no doubt that George Martin was displeased with Ringo’s drumming at the previous recording session, September 4, for not only were The Beatles expected to re-record “Love Me Do” but, when they arrived to the studio this day, September 11, session drummer Andy White was in attendance, ready to roll. The other three Beatles were not shocked and put up no resistance, for George Martin had taken them aside previously to tell them that he “would like to bring in another drummer for this record”1. There are a few theories concerning why Martin felt uneasy enough to bring in Andy White. First, he hadn’t asked The Beatles to let Pete Best go; that was their decision. It may be that Martin, not at all familiar with Ringo, felt that The Beatles had acted rashly, replacing one inferior cog for another. Second, Ringo was unfamiliar with the material, having joined the group for good just weeks earlier. That tentativeness was likely evident. Third, Ringo had been drumming strangely on September 4. As Ringo said, “I was playing the bass drum with a maraca in one hand and a tambourine in the other. I think it's because of that that George Martin used Andy White”1. Fourth, Ringo had not made a favorable impression with his talent. Paul said, “Ringo at that point was not that steady on time”1. Martin told Hunter Davies in 1968, “He couldn’t do a roll – and still can’t – though he’s improved a lot”2.

Whatever the reason, The Beatles had put themselves in this position. Having petitioned George Martin for “Love Me Do” to be their first single (and triumphing over Mitch Murray’s “How Do You Do It”), they were tacitly (if not literally) obliged to adhere to George Martin’s authority all the more. Thus, when Martin told the boys that Andy White would be waiting for them this day, it was understood that Ringo would have to suffer the ignominy to stand aside. Ringo told Davies quite naively, “Nobody said anything” because “we were just lads being pushed around”3. Not quite. George Martin was actually absent for most of this session (Ron Richards took charge), but this was not a sign that he was uninterested or hiding out, only that all was in order as planned.

Ringo also attested that he was “devastated” and “I thought, they’re doing a Pete Best on me”3. But even this should not bring much sympathy for Ringo, for he ended up making the negative into a positive, taking Andy White’s appearance as a challenge, not a slap in the face; a classic case of manning-up.

1 The Beatles Anthology, p.76

2 The Beatles, p.162

3 The Beatles, p.163

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RECORDING AND MIXING

“P.S. I Love You” was recorded first, using ten takes. As Andy White kept an adequate beat, Ringo joined in on the maracas. Paul had composed “P.S. I Love You” in April or May 19621, during a Beatles Hamburg trip. John said, “That’s Paul’s song. He wrote that in Germany, or when we were going to and from Hamburg2. The key question here is, did Paul write this song around the time of Stu Sutcliffe’s death (April 10), or around the time they put down basic tracks for “Sweet Georgia Brown” (May 24)? Like “Love Me Do,” this song was probably written for a Beatle girl, namely Dorothy “Dot” Rhone, Paul’s Liverpool squeeze. Rhone’s own words on the subject are: here. Paul, however, responded that “P.S. I Love You” was “not based in reality, nor did I write it to my girlfriend from Hamburg, which some people think”3, and John said that “he was trying to write a ‘Soldier Boy,’ like The Shirelles”2, a big hit for the girl band in April and May 1962. I leave it for the reader to decide.

“Love Me Do” followed, taking 18 takes. This time, Ringo grabbed a tambourine.

George Martin showed up to the studio as the boys began recording “Please Please Me.” This song had been rehearsed on September 4, 1962, but Martin at that time thought the Roy Orbison-style tempo too slow. On September 11, Andy White played drums while The Beatles tried to work out the kinks to this song, but scheduled time ran out before much progress was made.

At session's end, Mono mixes were done for all three songs, and taped to EMI reel E47852 (see John Barrett’s note: here). Although some references claim that acetates were made, I can find no evidence for this.

No Stereo mixes were made. Instead, Mock-Stereo mixes for “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” were created on February 25, 1963, on EMI reel E48979 (see John Barrett’s note: here), indicating that the twin-track master tapes were already destroyed (per EMI protocol of that time).

1 Dowlding, Beatlesongs, p.34

2 Sheff, All We Are Saying, p.168

3 Miles, Many Years From Now, p.38

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RELEASES

“Love Me Do” with Andy White (“Version 2”) was first released on the Please Please Me LP, March 22, 1963, but George Martin decided to release the earlier recording (“Ringo Version”) on The Beatles’ premier single, October 5, 1962. Regarding this, no clear explanation has been given. The common idea is that Martin wanted to “make it up” to Ringo, but this makes no sense. For if Martin thought so little of the “Ringo Version” as to bring in Andy White, and thought so well of the Andy White version as to make it the candidate for the debut LP (and a later “Rechanneled Stereo” remix), it would seem self-defeating that he should choose the “inferior” (Ringo) version for the single which preceded the album (if at all). And if the argument is that Martin’s soft heart did this, that is, allowed for a sacrifice of quality to mollify Ringo’s consternation, this not only questions the producer’s judgment, but also makes Martin’s relationship with Ringo (who he only met a week prior) or with the other Beatles (with whom he had only a bit more affection) to be exaggerated for the sake of the reasoning. A better explanation is that Martin merely changed his mind. That is, after bringing in Andy White to improve on Ringo, Martin found that he preferred the Ringo Version, and he used the opportunity to serve as a silent apology (an olive branch, so to speak). What did Martin like about the Ringo Version? One theory is that John’s harmonica was so much better thereon that Martin felt compelled to issue it; and perhaps, after satisfying his desire to allow John his perfect moment on vinyl, and having “repented” for bringing in Andy White, Martin thereafter felt released enough (spiritually, that is) to notice that Version 2 was best after all, the evidence being that the Ringo Version was not used again by Martin until a 1980 compilation called Rarities.

On April 27, 1964, “Love Me Do” (Version 2) and “P.S. I Love You” were released on a single in the US (Tollie 9008). The A-side reached #1 on May 30, 1964, and the B-side hit #10 on June 6.

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RELATIVES: Andy White is still active in music; visit his website: here. White lives in New Jersey; read a local article: here. A short interview with White: here.

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Tom Wise
gengar843@msn.com

Although I use quotes from sources, or cited fact, much of the material on this and other pages of my blog is original, from my own pen. This is not cut-and-paste, it is a work of art. Copyright © 2010 Tom Wise

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