Today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ first album ‘Please Please Me’.
This first record, consisting of 14 tracks, was released in the UK on 12” vinyl on March 22, 1963. It had been recorded in just one day in a studio session lasting 12 hours, before the band went straight back on tour. The final track, Twist and Shout, was famously recorded in just one take. Ian MacDonald, the late chronicler of The Beatles wrote: “Trying for a second take, Lennon found he had nothing left and the session stopped there and then – but the atmosphere was still crackling.”
‘Please Please Me’ stayed at number one in the UK for 30 weeks, only to be knocked off by the Beatles’ follow-up album, ‘With the Beatles’. The release of this first album sparked the start of Beatlemania, during which time 11 out of 12 of their following albums made it to number one in the UK.
Within a year Beatlemania had truly spread across the globe, prompting the now-famous scenes of the group’s arrival in the US in February 1964 where they were greeted by thousands of screaming fans.
Although the band split in 1970, Beatlemania lives on. In fact, at an up-coming auction in New York, a guitar used by John Lennon and George Harrison is expected to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000 (155,000€-230,000€). Other Beatles items for sale include a copy of ‘Please Please Me’ signed by all four members, which is expected to take around $40,000 (30,000€), and a copy of Lennon’s whimsical 1964 book ‘In His Own Write’ – also signed by the band – which could fetch $30,000 (23,000€).
Official figures of worldwide albums sales put the total number at around 600 million, making them the best-selling artists of all time, but other estimates put the figure closer to one billion, as download sales continue to grow. The two remaining members of the band, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, are still living pop star lifestyles and still play solo and with their current bands at shows around the world.
Watch one of the original performances of ‘Please Please Me’ below.