What Went Down at The Auditions?
Senior A&R man Dick Rowe was in charge at the Decca studios, where the audition was held. Mike Smith, his assistant, had seen the Beatles perform at what would become the famous Cavern Club and suggested the audition to their manager, Brian Epstein. It lasted about an hour, and the Beatles—John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Pete Best, the original drummer, played 15 songs. Paul McCartney led vocals on seven of the audition tracks, and John Lennon and George Harrison led together on four.
They were nervous, and the session did not go well, but Smith told them afterward that he ‘saw no problems’ and that a decision would be made in a few weeks. Epstein waited the few weeks allotted, then called Rowe and demanded a decision. It was not what he had anticipated. ‘Guitar groups are on their way out,’ Rowe allegedly said, adding that the Beatles have no future in show business.
Truth or Myth?
Rowe, who died in 1986, always denied the story, claiming that Mike Smith was the one who turned down the Fab Four. On the same day, another group, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, had an audition, and according to Rowe informed Mike that he would have to choose between them. It was left to Mike to pick between the Beatles and the Tremeloes. He apparently said they’re both good, but one is a local group, and the other is from Liverpool. Consequently, it was decided that taking the local group would be preferable as collaborations would be much easier, as would in-person meetings.
Whoever made the decision, Rowe went on to redeem himself by signing the Rolling Stones, Animals, Moody Blues, Small Faces, and Tom Jones, among others. And perhaps it was the correct decision on musical grounds. Years later, George Martin, the Beatles’ legendary EMI producer, stated that he, too, would have rejected them based on the mediocre Decca audition tape.
The Biggest in The world
The Beatles, of course, went on to become one of the most beloved and famous bands in history (their first big hit in America was with EMI Records in 1963). According to Sotheby’s, the demo includes songs such as “Money,” “The Sheik of Araby,” “September in the Rain,” “Three Cool Cats,” and “Like Dreamers Do.” Sotheby’s London auctioned the Decca audition tape online, with estimates ranging from 50,000 to 70,000 pounds (roughly $65,000 to $90,000).