Uncut Portion Of The Beatles Decca Audition Tape Going Under The Hammer

A newly discovered tape featuring a portion of the Beatles‘ failed audition for Decca Records is going under the hammer. Although the group’s January 1st, 1962 audition tape has been available as a pristine sounding bootleg for ages, the new tape — which only holds seven of the audition’s 15 tracks and originally belonged to the group’s late-manager Brian Epstein, has been the property of his nephew, Henry Epstein. Sotheby’s expects the tape to fetch up to $90,000. Online bidding begins on December 6th at 3:00 PM CET.

The Daily Beatle spoke with leading Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn about the newly discovered reel-to-reel tape, who explained, “The ending of ‘Three Cool Cats’ is a single bass note longer than any version we’ve had before. The song ‘September In The Rain’ is four seconds longer than any of the circulated versions as it includes a vocal line, which is always edited out. These tiny differences do mark out the tape as original to Brian Epstein, not something created from any other known-to-exist source.”

Sotheby’s description of the tape, reads:

0.25 inch (6.35mm) open reel magnetic tape on a 5 inch (127mm) Phillips brand spool labelled “2” in ball-point, carrying c.15 minutes 20 seconds mono recording at 7.5 inches/second, of The Beatles performing seven songs (‘Money’, ‘The Sheik of Araby’, ‘Memphis Tennessee’, Three Cool Cats’, ‘Sure to Fall (in Love with You)’, ‘September in the Rain’, and Like Dreamers Do’) at Decca Studios, London, on 1 January 1962, housed in a contemporary box (Emitape, for a 5.75 inch spool) labelled “2” and “THE BEATLES” in ballpoint on the base; now housed in a collector’s bespoke cloth box; end of tape frayed and brittle with 280mm detached; (with:) CD transfer, letters of provenance and authenticity.

Following the Beatles’ failed Decca audition featuring Pete Best on drums, the group was eventually signed to EMI Records in June 1962, with the lost Decca recording contract going to Brian Poole & The Tremeloes, who went on to score several substantial hits in their own right.

The 15-track tape consists of material from the long-bootlegged Decca audition: “Like Dreamers Do,” “Money,” “Take Good Care Of My Baby,” “To Know Her Is To Love Her,” “Besame Mucho,”  “The Sheik Of Araby,” “Sure To Fall,” “September In The Rain,” “Three Cool Cats, “Love Of The Loved,” “Memphis,” “Crying, Waiting, Hoping,” “Hello Little Girl,” “Till There Was You” and “Searchin.'”

Noted rock journalist Richie Unbterberger wrote at length about the group’s legendary Decca audition in his book, The Unreleased Beatles: [“Actually, in the book, I give that group of recordings a bigger entry than any other group. Because there’s so much to write about and I felt that they had really never been appreciated properly — as far as what it meant to the Beatles’ evolution. When you listen to those tapes, they’re obviously very nervous. That’s something interesting, because no other recording after that did they sound nervous, they always sound really confident.”] SOUNDCUE (:24 OC: . . . sound really confident)

Back in 1971 John Lennon pulled no punches when he shed light on the Beatles’ firing of Pete Best — and admitted that it went far beyond producer George Martin‘s critique that he was unsuitable to drum on the group’s recording sessions: [“By then, we were pretty sick of Pete Best, too, because we was a lousy drummer, y’know? He never improved, y’know? And there was always this, this, this, myth being built up over the years that he was great and Paul was jealous of him, ’cause he was pretty and all that crap, y’know? And the reason he got in the group in the first place was because the only way we could get to Hamburg — we had to have a drummer! And we just heard that this guy was — we knew of this guy, who was living at his mother’s house that had a club in it, and he had a drum kit. And we just grabbed him, auditioned him and he could keep one beat long enough so we took him to Germany. And we were always gonna dump him when we could find a decent drummer, y’know? But by the time we rolled back from Germany, we trained him to, y’know, keep a stick going up and down with (laughs) four in the bar — he couldn’t do much else. And he looked nice and the girls liked him, but y’know, that was alright.”] SOUNDCUE (:49 OC: . . . that was alright)

In 1995, the Beatles released a total of five songs from the January 1st, 1962 Decca audition on The Beatles Anthology 1.