The Beatles Songs: "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

The history of this classic Beatles song

The US sleeve for "I Want to Hold Your Hand".

I Want To Hold Your Hand

Written by: John Lennon (50%) and Paul McCartney (50%) (credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: October 17, 1963 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: October 21, 1963
Length: 2:26
Takes: 4


John Lennon: lead vocal, rhythm guitars (1958 Rickenbacker 325)
Paul McCartney: lead vocal, bass guitar (1963 Hofner 500/1)
George Harrison: lead guitar (1963 Gretsch 6122 "Country Gentleman")
Ringo Starr: drums (1963 Black Oyster Pearl Ludwig kit)

First released: November 29, 1963 (UK: Parlophone R5084), December 26, 1964 (US: Capitol 5112)

Available on: (CDs in bold)

  • Past Masters Volume 1, (UK: Parlophone CDP 7 90043 2, US: Capitol CDP 7 90043 2)
  • Meet The Beatles, (US: Capitol (S)T 2047, CDP 7243 8 66875 2 4}
  • The Beatles Million Sellers, (UK: Parlophone GEP 8946}
  • The Beatles 1962-1966, (UK: Apple PCSP 717, US: Apple SKBO 3403, Apple CDP 0777 7 97036 2 3}
  • The Beatles 1, (Apple CDP 7243 5 299702 2}

Highest chart position: 1 (UK: December 14, 1963; May 16, 1964), 1 (US: February 1, 1964)


  • Written in direct response to manager Brian Epstein's direction that the group create something for the American market, this song was composed, according to John Lennon, in the basement of the home of Paul's then-girlfriend, Jane Asher. Paul McCartney, however, claims it was done in a rented home. Both agree the song was written on piano.
  • This is the first Beatles song recorded on four tracks, as opposed to their usual two-track recording.
  • This is the first Beatles single to have advance orders of one million copies.
  • Frustrated by Capitol's refusal to release Beatles records in the United States, manager Brian Epstein insisted the label spend $40,000 -- eight times more than previous records -- to break the record stateside. There is no truth to the rumor, however, that Epstein secured concert dates in the U.S. based on the strength of the recording.
  • 15-year-old fan Marsha Albert convinced WWDC (Washington, DC) radio DJ Carroll James to get a copy of the song airmailed in from England. James allowed Albert to introduce the song the first time he played it; the response was so immediate that Capitol was forced to bump up the release of the single by two full weeks.
  • This song was the Beatles' first Number One in America, selling 10,000 copies an hour in New York City alone. Capitol Records was forced to farm out pressings of the single to other labels in order to facilitate demand. The song that replaced it at Number One was "She Loves You," marking the first time an artist had succeeded itself at the top spot since Elvis Presley (whose "Love Me Tender" had replaced "Don't Be Cruel").

Live versions: February 9, 1964 (The Ed Sullivan Show, New York), February 16, 1964 (Deauville Hotel, Miami, FL, for broadcast on The Ed Sullivan Show), February 11, 1964 (Washington Coliseum, Washington, D.C), February 12, 1964 (Carnegie Hall, New York), February 16, 1964 (Deauville Hotel, Miami, FL, for broadcast on The Ed Sullivan Show), June 4, 1964 (K.B. Hallen Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark), June 6, 1964 (Veilinghal, Blokker, The Netherlands), June 12-13, 1964 (Centennial Hall, Adelaide, Australia), August 21, 1964 (Seattle Coliseum, Seattle, WA)

BBC versions: 4 (for the BBC radio programs Saturday Club and From Us To You and for BBC's The Morcambe and Wise Show


  • This is one of only two songs re-recorded in German for that country's market, the other being "She Loves You (Sie Liebt Dich)." The German-language version of this song is titled "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand" (recorded January 29, 1964 at Pathe Marconi Studios, Paris, France, using the original's backing track).
  • The original single sleeve photograph for this song featured a group shot in which Paul McCartney is clearly holding a lit cigarette. When the single was re-released by Capitol on its 20th anniversary, the cigarette was airbrushed out of the photograph.
  • The massive success of this single spawned two "answer" songs in 1964: "I'll Let You Hold My Hand" by The Bootles and "Yes, You Can Hold My Hand" by The Beatlettes.
  • When Bob Dylan first heard this song, he was convinced that the Beatles were singing "I get high" instead of "I can't hide."
Covered by:

Pat Boone, Freddy Cannon, Alex Chilton, The Chipmunks, Petula Clark, Duke Ellington, Bobby Fuller, Game Theory, Al Green, Homer Haynes, Earl Klugh, Lakeside, Rita Lee, Enoch Light, George Martinl, John McVey, The Moving Sidewalks, The New Christy Minstrels, Sparks, The Supremes, Allen Toussaint