The Beatles demo tape that British record label Decca Records overlooked — a decision branded the biggest mistake in music history — has resurfaced and is up for auction, newspapers reported yesterday.
Recorded on New Year’s Day in 1961, Decca artists and repertoire man Dick Rowe passed over the Liverpool group and signed The Tremeloes instead.
The Beatles went on to sign for EMI and became world stars.
Bootleg copies exist, but few have heard the original “pristine” master tape, containing 10 cover versions.
It is being auctioned in London on Tuesday by the Fame Bureau, with an asking price of ￡30,000 (US$48,000).
However, it does not come with the rights to the tracks.
“Apple, the company set up by The Beatles, holds the copyright to their voices and if anyone tried to release the material without their permission they would certainly be sued,” Fame Bureau managing director Ted Owen said, according to the Times.
“This has never officially been released. It is unique and the sound quality is crystal clear. We have spoken to various experts and this is the best quality recording of this session there is,” Owen added.
Bassist Paul McCartney, lead guitarist George Harrison, rhythm guitarist John Lennon and drummer Pete Best — later sacked and replaced by Ringo Starr — appear on the demo tape, recorded at the Decca studios in West Hampstead, north London.
It is marked as the “Silver Beatles” — the group’s former name — and comes with a hand-written track list and a black-and-white image of the band, wearing leather jackets and posing with their instruments.
The tracks include Money (That’s What I Want), Take Good Care Of My Baby and Till There Was You.
The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein held on to the tape and later gave it to an executive associated with EMI.
That person auctioned it privately in 2002, but it has now resurfaced.
Though Rowe rejected The Beatles, he went on to sign The Rolling Stones.