The Decca Audition

The End. An end before they even began… On the 1st of January in 1962, the then unknown band The Beatles performed 15 songs in Decca Records’ studio in North London. Brian Epstein, Beatles’ newly appointed manager, was pleased with the arrangement of Decca Records to let Beatles have an audition with the hopes of leaving with a recording contract. It could have been the beginning of something huge. However, the outcome wasn’t as encouraging. The Beatles were rejected with the motivation that “there is no future for guitar groups in the music industry”. Instead of signing with The Beatles, Decca signed with “Brian Poole and the Tremeloes” – a band that’s still unknown today, hence the quotation marks. How about the rejected and disappointed boys from Liverpool? Well, they became the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music…

Mike Smith, the executive at Decca Records who had the final saying in rejecting The Beatles, met with Brian Epstein in the beginning of December in 1961. Epstein encouraged Smith to visit The Cavern in Liverpool to see The Beatles play live on stage. Smith did in fact visit Liverpool and was impressed by what he saw and heard; thus the invitation for the audition a month later. Today, the rejection of The Beatles is considered to be the biggest blunder in musical history. Something that followed Mike Smith for the rest of his life.

This famous – or rather infamous – event did make it much easier for other bands in the upcoming decades. The record companies were terrified of making a similar mistake. Obviously, it’s easy to look at the outcome and say that the decision of rejection was poor, but to be fair, even Paul McCartney said that "Listening to the tapes I can understand why we failed the Decca audition. We weren't that good, though there were some quite interesting and original things”.

Even though we all aim for success and try our best to avoid failure, the rejection of The Beatles by Decca was by all means for the best. After hearing the Decca recordings, the EMI/ Parlophone producer George Martin was sufficiently interested to offer The Beatles an audition at Abbey Road Studios. That did indeed result in a signed contract; and as history thought us, George Martin later became “The Fifth Beatle” – the man who would take Lennon/McCartney to the next level and was a massive part of the great success that followed. If the Decca audition would have ended up in a recording contract, The Beatles may never have involved Ringo Starr, who joined the group in August 1962 after George Martin expressed concerns about Pete Best's drumming. The band was formed and pop culture was forever changed.

With that being written, sometimes a failure lead to something much greater, something you can’t even imagine…

Alexander Bitar History are proud to offer the original Decca audition recording tape – the only authentic original copy ever offered for sale. It will be online very soon.