When Andy White crawled out of bed on September 11, 1962, he hadn’t a clue that his day would be an event marked in musical history. Even after he arrived at London’s Abbey Road Studios for a 10 a.m.-1 p.m. session, at the request of EMI producer George Martin, and played drums behind several oddly dressed young gentlemen, White had no idea that he had joined, if only for three hours, what would become one of the world’s greatest phenomena.
In fact, White is rather blase about the session. After all, he’d already done countless studio sessions for numerous record companies and nameless artists. What made this one any different? As a result, Andy White doesn’t remember many details of that day.
Either George Martin or his assistant, Ron Richards, had called in the Glasgow, Scotland-born hired hand to fill in for the Beatles’ new drummer, Ringo Starr. White was a sure thing. Though his background was in jazz and bagpipe bands, he had earned a reputation as a rock ’n’ roll drummer on a popular English TV show called Boy Meets Girl, backing up such artists as Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.
About ten years ago, White married an American, Thea Ruth, and moved with her to New Jersey, where he lives today, teaching music and playing drums in a bagpipe band. Looking back over his long career, he can boast of playing on Tom Jones’ debut single, “It’s Not Unusual,” and touring for several year' as Marlene Dietrich’s personal drummer. But nothing comes close to the dav he played on the Beatles’ very first hit record, “Love Me Do.”
SH-BOONI: Did the call to do the Beatles session come in like any other?
ANDY: Yeah, actually I didn’t even know what the session was going to be The Beatles were relatively unknown at the time, anyway. My [first] wife was from Liverpool, so I’d heard of them, but most people hadn’t.
SH-BOOM: You walked into the studio, and then what happened?
ANDY: I just walked in and set up the drums as usual, and then got introduced to the guys and started doing the stuff.
SH-BOOM: What did Ringo do?
ANDY: Nothing, really. He just stayed in the background.
SH-BOOM: How were you approached with the song?
ANDY: They didn’t have any charts or anything, so they had to play through the stuff, so that I could find out what they wanted me to do.
SH-BOOM: You’re on the single version of “Love Me Do,” and Ringo is on the album version. Why’d they redo it for the album?
ANDY: I don’t know.
SH-BOOM: What did you think of the material?
ANDY: I liked the session because it was all their own material, since most of the other groups were only doing covers of American numbers. I think because the stuff was new and fresh and sounded different, it felt a little special.
SH-BOOM: How much were you paid for the session?
ANDY; It worked out at that time to be something like $15.
SH-BOOM: You got $15 to play with the Beatles on “Love Me Do”?
ANDY: And a couple of others. We did a version of “P.S. I Love You,” which I believe is the one they issued, and I did a version of “Please, Please Me,” which EMI later said they lost the track of. Fifteen dollars was the union rate for a three-hour session.
SH-BOOM: On “Love Me Do,” Ringo was playing tambourine. What about the other songs?
ANDY: He didn’t play anything. I don’t know if he played maracas on “P.S. I Love You.” I don’t think so. Most of the time he was up in the box.
SH-BOOM: Did the guys in the group clown around?
ANDY: They were clowning around, but they got on with the work. They didn’t mess around too much to jeopardize the project.
SH-BOOM: Do you remember much else about the session?
ANDY: Not really, because my time was all taken up with getting on with the session. Sometimes I was going into three different sessions a day, and they all had four or five numbers to get down, so that’s what I did.
SH-BOOM: Did George Martin tell you what he wanted?
ANDY: He basically left it up to them, because they had been playing these numbers for some time before, [and] they knew what they wanted. He was in the box most of the time. John and Paul were the main influence. They had written the stuff.
SH-BOOM: Did you ever see the Beatles in person again?
ANDY: No, the only person I saw was Paul once at EMI, maybe a couple of years later. He was in the office for some reason, and I was working there.
SH-BOOM: Do you get a rush when you hear “Love Me Do” on the radio?
ANDY: No, not really. I’ve heard it so many times. [Laughs]
SH-BOOM; Did the song make you famous, at least in England?
ANDY: It didn’t, because nobody was supposed to know. It was an unwritten law. People in the business knew, but it wasn’t until 20 years later that [the news] came out. [EMI] actually released a 12-inch LP in 1982 with both versions of “Love Me Do” on it, as well as “P.S. I Love You.” Side One has “Love Me Do” and Side Two has it, and it says, “Original single version,” and there’s a blurb at the bottom which mentions me having been on it. It was just a sales gimmick—two different versions.
SH-BOOM: If we hear the Beatles’ “Love Me Do” on the radio, how can we tell if you’re on it?
ANDY: if you hear the tambourine, I’m the one on drums.http://www.beatles.ru/books/paper.asp?id=2528