This is the sixth number one for the Beatles in America, all of them in 1964. It is also the last number one of the year. While it was six for the Beatles, it was seven for the writing team of Lennon & McCartney, since they also wrote the number one “A World Without Love” done by Peter and Gordon. During the year, 1964, from January 18 until October 24, there were 28 Beatles songs on the Hot 100. Five of those had gone to number one. Then for five weeks, there was not a Beatles record to be found on the charts. It wasn’t until December 5, 1964 that “I Feel Fine” entered the charts. It’s flip side, “She’s a Woman” also entered the charts, but eventually only peaked at number four. That was pretty good and the highest a B-side of a record had ever reached at that time.
John Lennon wrote “I Feel Fine” although, like most Beatles songs, it was credited to Lennon & McCartney. The distinctive thing about this song is not the words or the melody, but the riff. That’s the instrumental music you hear right at the beginning and then throughout the song. John actually wrote the riff first while he was in the studio recording “Eight Days a Week” (which will be their next number one in February of 1965. He said he liked the riff and would write a song to include it someday. Well, it wasn’t long before he came up with “I Feel Fine.” When they put the riff and the song together, they realized they had something that could be the A-side of a single and, of course, it was.
Another interesting thing about this song is that it starts with a single note of feedback. That came about purely by accident. In rehearsals, Paul plucked the A-string of his guitar and John’s guitar, which was leaning against Paul’s amplifier picked up the sound and fed it back through the amplifier. Apparently, John had left the guitar turned on. This caused feedback which was picked up. They liked the sound so much that they reproduced it for the final cut of the record. John says, he believes this is the first time that feedback was ever used in a modern record.
Unusual things like the feedback were encouraged by the other three guys and by George Martin, their manager. John would tinker with all sorts of sounds and different ways he could use the instruments to create something new. This is one reason, the Beatles were so great at what they did.
“I Feel Fine” entered the pop charts on December 5, 1964 and by December 26, which was the last week of the year, it had made it to number one, where it stayed for three weeks, making it the first number one of 1965.