John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Lennon and McCartney became one of the most successful songwriting teams in history during their partnership through the 1960s, though at first they had to fight to get their own songs recorded. Their producer, George Martin, wanted the Beatles to record How Do You Do It, written by Mitch Murray, as their first single, certain that the song was a sure fire hit for the band, which was still relatively unknown outside of Liverpool. The Beatles did record the song, but convinced Martin to let them release Love Me Do instead. When it was time for another single, Martin wanted to return to How Do You Do It but Lennon and McCartney countered with Please Please Me, their first number one hit.
Gerry and the Pacemakers scored a hit with the song rejected by the Beatles, who went on to write more than 180 songs credited to the Lennon-McCartney partnership. While the majority of them were recorded by the Beatles (with some unreleased) the team also wrote songs for other artists who followed them to America and fame. One of the earliest was a song written for the Rolling Stones, completed in an afternoon, entitled I Wanna Be Your Man, which was one of the band’s first hits in England, and later recorded by the Beatles as well, a throwaway album track which was sung by Ringo Starr.
Besides the Rolling Stones, who the Beatles met in London after attending a performance, Lennon and McCartney wrote songs to be recorded by other artists, including bands under the control of Brian Epstein. For Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas they wrote three top ten hits, including the 1963 number one Bad to Me. Peter and Gordon reached number one in 1964 with A World Without Love, written primarily by McCartney, but attributed to the partnership after Lennon rejected the song for recording by the Beatles. Peter was Peter Asher, brother of Jane Asher, who was Paul McCartney’s girlfriend at the time, with Paul living in the Asher home.
Cilla Black had three top forty hits with Lennon and McCartney songs, with Its For You reaching number 7 in 1964. Most of the songs given to other artists were unreleased by the Beatles during the time of the invasion, and were given away after the members of the band, for one reason or another, rejected them. Years after the Beatles dissolved, copies of the songs recorded by the Beatles as demos, or existing as outtakes, were released in one of the band’s several anthology sets. Several other songs were given to other acts which were written by McCartney alone, attributed to an alias on the label.
The Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership reached its peak during the British Invasion, with many later hits written by the pair during the tours of America. By the height of the British Invasion all of the Beatles were living in London, and the diversity of the music they heard there appeared in their own songwriting, lessening the influence of the Mersey beat which had led to their initial success. The Lennon-McCartney partnership became as much a rivalry as it was a team, with both partners attempting to outdo the other in new sounds and styles. Lennon and McCartney’s song catalog became one of the most valuable in the world, and remained so into the twenty-first century.