In 1964, recordings of The Beatles were simultaneously being released by six different record labels: Capitol, Vee Jay, Tollie, ATCO, MGM, and Swan. I don’t think this has ever happened before or since 1964. It was a rare occurrence and could have contained even another label: Decca.
Two issues were present. Capitol, EMI’s American label, passed on The Beatles in 1963 and their first album, “Please Please Me” was licensed to Chicago’s Vee Jay Records who initially released the album in early 1964 as “Introducing The Beatles.” Incidentally, Vee Jay used the same tracks for a half dozen different albums with various titles.
Although not releasing the album until 1964, Vee Jay had already issued “Please Please Me” (as The Beattles) and “From Me to You” as singles in 1963. Only “From Me to You” charted with a dismal showing at #116. By 1964, several singles were culled from “Introducing the Beatles” and issued and re-issued on Vee Jay and its subsidiary Tollie Records.
In addition, several of The Beatles’ tracks (with and without Tony Sheridan as lead vocalist) owned by Polydor were licensed to MGM and ATCO and these made their way on the charts during the height of Beatlemadia as well. Decca had originally issued “My Bonnie” by Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers (i.e., The Beatles) in 1962 with no success.
By September 1963, Capitol passed on another Beatles’ single – “She Loves You.” EMI licensed the record to Swan Records out of Philadelphia because Vee Jay was late in paying mechanical rights’ royalties. While “She Loves You” climbed to the top of the British charts in November 1963, Swan’s first issue of the single failed miserably.
That is until Beatlemania struck and Swan re-released “She Loves You” on January 25, 1964. By this week 50 years ago, “She Loves You” was solidly at the #3 position on the Hot 100. When “I Want to Hold Your Hand” slid back down the charts after being #1 for seven weeks, “She Loves You” replaced it as the number one American single for two weeks.
In order to capitalize on Capitol’s misfortune of passing on “She Loves You,” Swan released a promo version of the flip side, “I’ll Get You,” in April 1964; but, with radio being inundated with other Beatles’ product, the song failed to gain much airplay and “She Loves You”/“I’ll Get You” was not a double sided hit like “I Want to Hold Your Hand”/“I Saw Her Standing There.”
On May 21, 1964, Swan also released the German version of “She Loves You” titled “Sie Lieb Dicht.” Swan argued that since EMI had licensed “She Loves You” for the American release that the German version was theirs as well. EMI acquiesced. It too was backed by “I’ll Get You.” “Sie Lieb Dicht” stalled on the US charts at #97.
Although Capitol was forbidden to release “She Loves You” as a single for two years, it appeared on “The Beatles’ Second Album,” which debuted on April 11, 1964. “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” and the rest is Beatles history.