I Want to Hold Your Hand
- John Lennon – vocal, rhythm guitar, handclaps
- Paul McCartney – vocal, bass guitar, handclaps
- George Harrison – lead guitar, handclaps
- Ringo Starr – drums, handclaps
For American audiences, I Want to Hold Your Hand is a song that is inextricably linked to memories of the early Beatles with their mop-top haircuts, trademark sound, and reputation for the peppering their songs with refrain "yeah, yeah, yeah". It was The Beatles' big breakthrough hit in America. First released in the UK on November 29, 1963 with This Boy as the b-side, the song was released in the U.S. a few weeks later with I Saw Her Standing There on the b-side and the rest, as they say, is history. The release of I Want to Hold Your Hand / I Saw Her Standing There was a monumental event in U.S. music history and instantly became one of the great classic records of the era when singles predominated.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney collaborated to write I Want to Hold Your Hand, one of the initial and overall most successful Beatles hits ever. Beatles' manager Brian Epstein was frustrated by the thick-headedness of some of the suits at Capitol Records who did not recognize the success of The Beatles until months after the American public had embraced them. Epstein asked John and Paul to write a song "on spec" for the American audience. The two wrote the song on the piano. John remembers that it was in Jane Asher's basement.
The song was recorded in Studio 2 of Abbey Road on October 17, 1963 in 4 takes. It was the first four track recording the Beatles made (two tracks being the previous norm). It was pointed directly at the US market. Epstein demanded that $40,000 be spent on publicity for the release (the usual was only $5k). Advance orders of one million copies came in, for the first time in Beatles' history. The UK single came out on November 29, 1963. Capitol was trying to delay the release in the US for seven weeks until 1964, for reasons known only to it. Famously, a young fan named Marsha Albert inveigled a local Washington, DC disc jockey to play the UK release of the record in early December, and the response was so strong that Capitol had to relent and release the US single two weeks early -- the day after Christmas of 1963. At one point, this number one hit (their first in the US) was selling in New York at the rate of 10,000 copies per hour. Capitol, of course, was unprepared for the popular response and had to enlist other labels to help out with the pressings in order to satisfy the sudden demand. The Beatles performed this number live on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.
I Want to Hold Your Hand stayed in the top spot until replaced by She Loves You. This was the first time since Elvis that a number one artist replaced itself. (He did it with Love Me Tender and Don't Be Cruel.)