The Beatles' audition tape rejected by a record label
executive in arguably the biggest blunder in pop history has
resurfaced and will go on sale at a London auction next week.
Ted Owen of The Fame Bureau, an auction house specialising in
pop memorabilia, said the 10-song tape was recorded on New
Year's Day, 1962, at Decca's studios in north London.
Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Pete Best -
who would later be replaced on drums by Ringo Starr -
performed up to 15 songs at the session, 10 of which appear
on the tape to be sold on November 27.
The band members had been driven from Liverpool to London the
night before, and, despite getting lost on the way managed to
get to the studios in time for the infamous session paid for
by their manager Brian Epstein.
Decca's senior A&R (artists and repertoire)
representative Dick Rowe, who later became known as "the man
who turned down the Beatles", decided against signing them in
favour of Brian Poole & The Tremeloes, who also
auditioned that day.
"Guitar groups are on their way out, Mr. Epstein," he is
widely quoted as saying.
Rowe did, however, sign the Rolling Stones, who went on to
become one of the biggest acts in British rock, and experts
dispute whether it was him or a more junior colleague who
passed the Beatles over.
There are bootleg versions of the session in existence, but
the "safety master", or back-up tape, on offer at auction is
unique, Owen said.
"The most important thing about this is the quality," he told
Reuters. "There are bootlegs out there, horrible bootlegs -
some are at the wrong speed, others are crackily and taken
from a cassette off an acetate (disc).
"This quality we have never heard."
Despite its rarity, the tape has been estimated to fetch
£18,000- £20,000, which Owen said had been set by the owner
and was a "sensible" starting point.
He added that only a handful of collectors were likely to bid
for the piece of pop history, and, given that the Beatles own
the copyright through their company, a commercial record
release based on the tape was extremely unlikely.
Marked as the "Silver Beatles", which the "Fab Four" were
briefly called, the tape comes with a hand-written track list
and black-and-white photograph of the musicians posing in
leather jackets that would be been used for the record
Also on offer at the Popular Culture auction is a guitar used
by Jimi Hendrix to play the bulk of his breakthrough set at
the Monterey festival in California in 1967. The black Fender
Stratocaster is expected to fetch £120,000- £180,000.