"You've Really Got a Hold on Me" was written by Smokey Robinson while in New York in 1962 on business for Motown; he heard Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home to Me", which was in the charts at the time, and - influenced by it - wrote the song in his hotel room.
The song was recorded in Motown's Studio A on October 16, 1962 with Robinson on lead vocals, and Miracles' second tenor Bobby Rogers on harmony co-lead. Robinson was the producer, and he had Eddie Willis and Miracle Marv Tarplin share the guitar parts.
The song was released on the Tamla label on November 9, 1962 as the B side to "Happy Landing". "Happy Landing" charted regionally; however, the nation's Dee-Jays flipped the record over, because they liked "Hold On Me" better (Reference: The Miracles–Depend On Me: The Early Albums liner notes-pg 12). With "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" as the A side, the single reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart, peaking at number eight, and was a number-one smash on the Billboard R&B singles chart during the winter of 1962-63. The Miracles' original version is a 1998 Grammy Hall of Fame inductee. It was also the group's second single to sell over a million copies, after "Shop Around". It would be included on the albumThe Fabulous Miracles over three months after its release.
The Miracles can be seen performing the song live on stage at the legendary Apollo Theatre in New York (1963) on the Motown/Universal DVD release: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: The Definitive Performances 1963-1987. This filmed performance, according to the DVD's liner notes, is the only known recorded live footage of the group with original Miracles member Claudette (Mrs.Smokey) Robinson. They also performed it live at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium the following year (1964) for the American International Pictures concert film, T.A.M.I. Show. It was also chosen for the soundtrack of the award-winning 1964 Ivan Dixon film, Nothing But a Man, and many others (see below). Smokey Robinson himself also performed a rewritten version of it on Sesame Street alongside a grabby feminine looking Muppet letter "U", with such lyrics as "U stands for uptight/That's how I'm feelin'/Bein' grabbed by a letter is/Unappealin'".The Miracles performed the song on a 1964 telecast of the ABC television series Shindig!, and in 1983, the group also performed it, 21 years after they originally recorded it, on the Emmy-winning NBC Television special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever.
"You Really Got a Hold on Me" [sic] was the first track recorded for the Beatles' second United Kingdom LP, With the Beatles, and features John Lennon on lead vocal with George Harrison and Paul McCartney on close harmony lead. The Beatles acquired an imported copy by the Miracles and included it in their repertoire early in 1963.
The Beatles recorded the song on July 18, 1963. This session took place while Please Please Me was still at number one in the album charts four months after its release, and in the midst of a rigorous touring schedule that also had to include BBC sessions for radio and television. It was completed in seven takes, four of which were complete. The group then recorded four edit pieces. The final version was an edit of takes 7, 10 and 11.
In the fall of 1963, when EMI acquired their first four track recording equipment, the Beatles recorded another version of the song at Lennon's request, perhaps with the intent of including it as a B-side to an upcoming single, or as part of a four song EP. However, the group concluded that in spite of the enhanced recording technology, the new version was not substantially better than their original studio effort, and the remade cover has yet to be officially released in any form.
The Beatles also recorded "You Really Got a Hold on Me" on four occasions for BBC radio in 1963. One of these, from July 30, 1963 was included on the Live at the BBC collection. A live version recorded in Stockholm, Sweden in October 1963 was released in 1995 on Anthology 1. The song was performed once again in 1969, during the Let It Be recording sessions, and featured in the 1970 documentary film, Let It Be.