The Paul McCartney Project

Acetate of Beatles’ Decca recordings sold £77,500 at auction

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 • Posted in “A day in the life

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From The Beatles Bible:

The Beatles’ failed Decca audition took place on 1 January 1962. Shortly afterwards Epstein took a reel-to-reel tape of the songs to HMV in London’s Oxford Street to have have some acetate discs cut.

HMV was part of EMI at the time. The record shop had a small recording studio in which members of the public could pay to make their own recordings and press discs.

The shop’s disc cutter was Jim Foy, who was impressed by the recording and mentioned The Beatles to music publisher Sid Colman. Colman then informed George Martin, setting wheels in motion that resulted in the group signing to EMI.

In 1963 Epstein gave the disc to Les Maguire, keyboard player in Liverpool group Gerry and the Pacemakers, after it was returned by Martin. Maguire, now 74, kept it carefully wrapped in paper in his loft for over 50 years.

From ‘Holy Grail’ Beatles record sold for £77,500 at auction – BBC News, March 22, 2016:

The 10-inch acetate of Till There Was You and Hello Little Girl from 1962 has been described as “a Holy Grail item“. It was the first Beatles disc to be cut before the band broke into the national charts and bears the writing of their manager Brian Epstein. Omega Auctions said it was “nicely surprised” by the price paid by a Manchester man for the item.

The disc lay forgotten in the home of Les Maguire – the keyboardist in fellow Liverpool act, Gerry and the Pacemakers. The 78 RPM record – mislabelled by Epstein as ‘Til There Was You and described as being the work of “Paul McCartney & The Beatles” – was made at the HMV store in Oxford Street, London. Hello Little Girl, on the other side, was again mislabelled as Hullo Little Girl and was described as being by “John Lennon & The Beatles”. In a bid to secure the band a recording contract, it was presented to future Beatles producer George Martin at the EMI record label.

Maguire, 74, of Formby, Merseyside, was given the disc by Epstein in 1963, after it had been returned to him by Martin. The record was sold at the Warrington auction, having been locked away in Maguire’s loft – where it was kept wrapped in paper for more than 50 years. He earlier described the record as “a special piece“, adding: “It’s no good to me so I’ve given it to my granddaughter, who is hoping to buy a house after passing her accountancy exams.

Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn described it as one of the “rarest and most collectable of all Beatles records“.

Last updated on April 21, 2021


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