After touring Scotland (backing a singer named Johnny Gentle) the group was invited to play the first of a series of club dates in Hamburg, Germany. They returned to Hamburg twice more in 1961 and 1962, after which they became increasingly popular on the Liverpool club circuit.
Sutcliffe left the band after 18 months to pursue his art studies (as well as photographer Astrid Kirchherr, whom he had met in Hamburg) so it was Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Best who met and auditioned for Parlophone Records (a subsidiary of EMI) producer George Martin in June 1962, at the Abbey Road Studios where they would eventually do most of their recording.
Martin liked everything about the band except Best, who was by this time was not on the best of terms with the other band members either. Ringo Starr, the drummer for another popular Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, was recruited to replace Best.
In September, 1962, the band's first single, "Love Me Do" was released, eventually reaching #17 in the UK. It would be almost two years until the song was released (and became a #1 hit) in the US, because of the skepticism of Parlophone's sister label in the US, Capitol Records, about the prospects of a British band succeeding in America.
Their first album, Please Please Me was released in the UK in March 1963. The singles, "Please Please Me" and "She Loves You" received scattered, limited airplay in the US. The teen audience on Dick Clark's American Bandstand reacted to "She Loves You" by laughing at the band's "mop top" haircuts.
After their second album, With The Beatles became only the second album ever to sell a million copies in the UK, Vee Jay Records, predominantly an R&B label, obtained the US rights to most of the songs from Please Please Me, and released them on an album titled Introducing ... The Beatles in January 1964.