The Beatles had accomplished a modest debut success with "Love Me Do", but outside of Liverpool and Hamburg they were still practically unknown. Part of the problem was that the group were committed to begin what was to be their final Hamburg season just as "Love Me Do" entered the British charts and so were unable to actively promote it on their home soil. Nonetheless, their producer, George Martin, felt it was a promising start and decided to go ahead with a second single.
"Please Please Me" has a diverse history. George Martin has stated that the original version of this song was "rather dreary", was too slow and consequently had little prospect of being the big hit the band were looking for. Martin said, "I was still thinking that we should release their [earlier] recording of 'How Do You Do It?'", a previously taped Mitch Murray composition that Martin insisted the Beatles record which he had seriously considered as an alternative debut single instead of "Love Me Do". The group replied that they were only interested in recording their own material. McCartney said: "It was symptomatic of our group that we turned down 'How Do You Do It?'." Ringo Starr commented: "I remember us all being ready to stand up for the principle of, 'We have written these songs and we want to do them'". George Martin was ultimately sympathetic to their appeals, but said later: "[I] would still have issued "How Do You Do It?" had they not persuaded me to listen to another version of "Please Please Me".
Lennon first conceived "Please Please Me" as a bluesy, slow tempo song. Lennon recalled: "I remember the day I wrote it, I heard Roy Orbison doing 'Only the Lonely', or something. And I was also always intrigued by the words to a Bing Crosby song that went, 'Please lend a little ear to my pleas'. The double use of the word 'please'. So it was a combination of Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby". Originally it was vocally sparse, did not contain any harmonies or responses, nor did it have the scaled harmonica intro.