Before they were one of music’s most influential and important acts, The Beatles – sans Ringo Starr – were simply three spotty kids trying to get their skiffle music heard, from playing local fetes in their native Liverpool to rough recordings cut in London.
But when those recordings happen to be the origins of said Fab Four, it’s no surprise to learn that it’s topped the latest list from Record Collector of the rarest records in the world.
The 2014 edition of the Rare Record Guide has just been published by Record Collector magazine, and according to The Guardian, the most valuable record in the world is a 1958 recording from the Quarrymen, when on July 12, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison entered the studio with John ‘Duff’ Lowe (piano) and Colin Hanlon (drums) to record two songs.
The acetate test pressing of those sessions – a cover of Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day” and a song called “In Spite Of All The Danger” – is the only known copy of the studio recording of the earliest iteration of The Beatles, and is valued by the new record collectors’ tome at around £200,000 (approx. $AU 307,000).
Following just behind that extremely rare 1958 recording, coming in at #2 on the rarest records list, is 7 inch and 10 inch replicas of the same recording, valued at £10,000 (approx. $AU 15,000) issued in 1981 after original pianist, ‘Duff’ Lowe sold the Quarrymen acetate (for an undisclosed figure) to McCartney.
Sir Paul then took the acetate to Abbey Road for restoration, removing pops and clicks and tidying up the recording to be issued for a private pressing of 20 to 25 copies on 10in and 30 to 50 on 45rpm 7in. None of these specially issued copies (which once went to George Harrison and Ringo Starr as Christmas presents) have ever ended up for online auction – ensuring their rarity and value.“The acetate test pressing of those sessions is the only known copy of the studio recording of the earliest iteration of The Beatles.”
Another piece of Beatles audio history however, has turned up for auction. Classic Rock magazine reports that the fabled ‘audition tapes’ of the band, taken from a session in which the band were attempting to land a deal with Decca Records, is going up for auction by London’s Fame Bureau.
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The tape, containing ten of a fifteen total tracks demoed by The Beatles to Decca Records – who famously refused to sign them, is one of two reels that were recorded on January 1st 1962.
The hour-long, New Year’s Eve set was recorded after Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and original drummer Pete Best spent 10 hours travelling to London with manager Brian Epstein from Liverpool the previous night to make the audition; only to be turned down by Decca records executives on the basis that “guitar groups are on the way out.” The heads of the label noting that “the Beatles have no future in show business.
Decca went on to become the home of The Rolling Stones, while The Beatles signed with Parlphone four months later, replaced Best with Ringo Starr, cut “Love Me Do” and the rest is history.
The audition tape is now being put on sale by auction house Fame Bureau next week, with the company’s Ted Owen stating the recording “is totally unique and the sound quality is crystal clear.”
The reel comes with a handwritten index note and a photo of the potential cover had the Decca audition been successful. Owen notes of the rare recording: “they’re copying the American style, the style of artists like Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. Everybody who was trying to make a name for themselves was trying to replicate that style.”
Owen believes that the two-track mono reel will sell for up to £20,000 (approx. $AU 30,700) which means it’ll come second to the Quarrymen recording. All in all – it shows once again that anything Bealtes-related is a profitable exercise.