The Beatles singles in Europe during the 60's

On 5 October 1962 the EMI organisation in the UK issued its first Beatles single: "Love Me Do" / "P.S. I Love You" on the Parlophone label (R4949). It became a minor chart success for the group. However, the next single ("Please Please Me" / "Ask Me Why"- Parlophone R4983), released on 11 January 1963, went straight to the top of most British charts, like all Beatles records from that moment on.

During 1963, Beatlemania slowly spread through Great Britain and as a result of the Sunday Night at the London Palladium show on 10 October, it became a national phenomenon.

By that time, two more singles had been released ("From Me To You" and "She Loves You"). Their fifth single ("I Want To Hold Your Hand") would be released in November 1963.

Meanwhile, EMI subsidiaries in other European countries had begun to issue Beatles singles as well. In some countries only the UK couplings were used, but frequently different combinations of songs were issued instead or alongside the English ones. Thus, some countries created as many or more Beatles singles in 1963 than the five which were issued in Great Britain: five in Holland and Norway, six in Sweden, France and Germany.

As a result, most of these countries had the honour of hosting The Beatles for live performances in 1963 (Sweden in late October) or the following year: France from 16 January to 4 February, Denmark on 4 June, Holland on 5 and 6 June, and Sweden again on 28 and 29 July.

Other European countries such as Italy, Spain, Austria, Portugal and Belgium reacted much more slowly - or should we say reluctantly - to Beatlemania and started to issue locally pressed Beatles singles only at the very end of 1963 or not even until 1964.

By the time the film A Hard Day's Night reached the cinemas (in August 1964) and acted as a welcome substitute for a genuine live performance by the Fab Four, almost all European countries were manufacturing and issuing their own Beatles records.

In Italy, Greece, Austria, Portugal and Belgium Beatles singles were issued on the Parlophone label. In France, Germany and Spain they were on Odeon. Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Holland used both Parlophone and Odeon, depending on the origin of the coupling of the songs.

From late 1968 on, all European Beatles singles appeared on their own newly formed Apple label. Only in Portugal and Greece, EMI continued to issue them on the Parlophone label. In Belgium the domestic manufacturing of Beatles singles ceased.

The Parlophone label on Beatles singles in Europe during the 1960s

In the UK the label style of Parlophone records was changed around March 1963. The "old style" label was red with silver lettering. Only "Love Me Do" / "P.S. I Love You" (R 4949) and "Please Please Me" / "Ask Me Why" (R 4983) were distributed with this label style. The "new style" label was used throughout the 1960s but underwent at least nine minor changes between 1963 and 1967. From 1968 on, new Beatles singles were distributed on Apple.

On the continent the situation was slightly more complicated. Each national branch of EMI chose its own label style.

In Sweden a completely new label was created. To distinguish it from the "old" and "new style" labels, we called it the "Euro style" label.
The earlier Swedish singles were red with silver letters but were changed to black with silver lettering after a short time.

Austria developed a very characteristic Parlophone label. Only three Beatles singles were issued on it, as all the others were imported from Germany (on Odeon).

Norway used a red "old style" label in 1963 and 1964, and a black "old style" label in 1965 and 1966. A black "Euro style" label was used in 1967 and 1968.

The Italian label had the "old style" design in the early and mid-sixties and switched to the "new style" in the late 1960s. For the "old style" label, four different colours were used.

In Holland all three label styles were used: the "old style" design in 1963 and 1964 in black, green and purple, while the "new style" and "Euro style" labels were used from 1965 on.

Greek singles were issued on a purple "old style" label.

In Portugal a domestic blue label was used during the earlier years. The design was changed later to the "Euro style" in red or black.

Belgian Beatles singles came with a black "old style" label.