“Guitar groups are on their way out”
Decca Genius, 1962
The famous New Years Day, 1962 audition tape that The Beatles made for Decca Records is nothing new for Beatles fans. It has been available as a bootleg for decades, and The Beatles even included songs from the audition in the Anthology series. But the famous session which led to the most famous rejection in rock and roll history has made its way back into the headlines recently as the original, first generation copy has reportedly been found and is up for auction.
The Beatles’ first audition tape, made for Decca Records on Jan. 1, 1962, has long had a special place in the lore of pop music. Not because it led to a contract for the Fab Four, but because a label executive turned the band down flat, supposedly telling the group’s manager, Brian Epstein, that “guitar groups are on their way out” and that the Beatles themselves “have no future in show business.”
Next week an auction house in London that specializes in pop memorabilia plans to sell what it says is a first-generation copy of that tape, containing 10 of the 15 songs that the Beatles are known to have played that day. The whereabouts of the recording for the last 50 years are not clear and even a cursory examination of what’s being auctioned raises questions about its authenticity, but the owner of the tape is said by the auction house, called the Fame Bureau, to have set the minimum bid at about $30,000.
Whether or not this is authentic is up for debate. The markings on the box point raise questions about whether or not this is a true copy of the 1962 master tape. But since we are entering a phase in which nearly every day will bring a Beatles golden anniversary for something or other, I thought we might start at the beginning. Or what was supposed to be the beginning, anyway.