LONDON, Nov 23 (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 specialising
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 Nov. 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
18-20,000 pounds ($29-32,000), 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 sleeve.
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 120-180,000 pounds.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)