Rejected Beatles Demo Tape Up For Auction
An example of what may be the dumbest decision in the history of the music is on the auction block:
(Reuters) – 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 specializing in pop memorabilia, said the 10-song tape was recorded on New Year’s Day, 1962, at label 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 favor 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.”
I’ve heard clips from the demo tape on news broadcasts today and it’s not necessarily anything to write home about. It kind of lacks the freshness that the first Beatles recordings had, but the distinctiveness of the sound was still there, as are the influences of American Rhythm & Blues artists, who were among the primary influences for Lennon & McCartney in the early days. One wonders how long Decca kicked itself over this decision.