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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Fifty years ago Norman Smith sent a lad on pop's most significant errand

Fifty years ago today the Beatles, still with Pete Best, had their first recording session at Abbey Road. They recorded four songs. They began with the soupy standard Besame Mucho before playing three of their own songs: Love Me Do, PS I Love You and Ask Me Why.

The session was supervised by Ron Richards. Norman Smith engineered. It was Norman who thought George Martin should hear Love Me Do and sent the tape operator to find him. They all agreed that the drummer would have to go but Martin liked what he heard and oversaw the rest of the session.

Had Martin not been called in it's perfectly possible The Beatles' recording career would have ended right there. For all their 10,000 hours, their following in Liverpool, their proven ability to write songs, their personal charm and their nagging manager, they could very easily have gone the way of hundreds of other acts, victims of the eternal imbalance between supply and demand.

They'd already been turned down by Decca. If EMI had also passed there wouldn't have been many other places to go. It wouldn't have taken much to have seen them go back to Liverpool for good.