- John Lennon – lead vocal (double-tracked), acoustic guitar
- Paul McCartney – harmony vocal (double-tracked), bass
- George Harrison – harmony vocal (double-tracked), lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums
This Boy is a collaboration between Lennon and McCartney, written while the Beatles were touring in 1963. John wrote the melody, mainly, and Paul worked out harmonies and the structure. It was recorded in October 1963 and released a month later, on the b-side of their fifth UK single, I Want to Hold Your Hand. When they were invited back to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964, This Boy was one of the songs they sang. In the US, it was released on the Capitol album, Meet the Beatles!
John Lennon later said he was trying to imitate Smokey Robinson's style (a "Motown sound"), and Paul McCartney said the hit by the Teddy Bears, To Know Him is to Love Him was also influential, particularly because of their use of close harmonies. (Ironically, the lead singer for the Teddy Bears, Phil Spector, later came to produce the Let it Be album, which generated litigation with McCartney.) The doo-wop sound was inspired specifically by Robinson's I've Been Good to You. The middle eight was to be a guitar solo, but at the last minute, was changed to a tour-de-force solo by John. The three-part close harmony of Paul, John and George seem to presage later arrangements like Yes It Is and Because. The chord sequences are fairly standard for popular music in the early 1960's. An instrumental version of this song, called Ringo's Theme (This Boy), was arranged for orchestra by George Martin and used in the film, A Hard Day's Night. It was also released as a single in the UK (with an instrumental version of I Love Her on the back) and in the US on the soundtrack album of A Hard Day's Night.
Recording took place on October 17, 1963 in 15 takes and two overdubs. That day they completed This Boy and I Want to Hold Your Hand, as well as a track for You Really Got a Hold on Me. This was the first time the Beatles used four-track recording.
The Beatles also performed This Boy live for Morecambe and Wise (a BBC-TV interview show). This version can be heard on Anthology 1. The song is also found in the Past Masters, Volume One collection. Takes 12 & 13 from the recording session, which were incomplete, came out on the Free As a Bird single in 1995.
- An instrumental version called "Ringo's Theme (This Boy)" appears on the 1964 US version of the album A Hard Day's Night by George Martin & His Orchestra - 3:10.