Their credits weren’t linked to a single by their own group, the Beatles. The song that brought them to the Hot 100 for the first time was a cover version of the Fab Four’s first British No. 1, “From Me to You.” The artist was an American, Michigan-born Del Shannon, best known for his 1961 chart-topper, “Runaway.”
At this point in 1963, the Beatles had been charting in their own land for just over eight months.
They made their U.K. debut the week of Oct. 11, 1962, with “Love Me Do,” which only went to No. 17. The follow-up, “Please Please Me,” peaked at No. 2. Their third single was “From Me to You,” which debuted the week of April 18, 1963 and went to No. 1 two weeks later.
While the Beatles’ “From Me to You” was popular in the U.K., the Beatles played a date at the Royal Albert Hall in London with Shannon, who was coming off of a No. 4 hit, “Little Town Flirt.”
That night, Shannon told Lennon he was going to cover “From Me to You” for America. Lennon’s initial response was, “That’ll be fine.” But he had second thoughts, realizing that could harm the Beatles’ chances of breaking the song themselves in the U.S. Just as he was about to go on stage, Lennon shouted to Shannon, “Don’t do that!”
Shannon didn’t pay attention to that request. His single brought Lennon and McCartney to the chart for the first time, but it didn’t give the songwriting duo a hit. The 45rpm recording on the Big Top imprint only spent four weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 77.
The original version, released on the Chicago-based Vee-Jay label, debuted on the Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart the week of Aug. 3, 1963, stalling at No. 116 and never graduating to the main Hot 100.
Lennon and McCartney finally appeared on the Hot 100 again as songwriters the week of Jan. 18, 1964, when the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” made its debut. Seven weeks later, the Beatles version of “From Me to You” finally entered the Hot 100, as the separately-charting B-side of “Please Please Me.”
Lennon and McCartney never had to tell another American artist not to cover one of their songs.