The Beatles’ Decca audition tape up for auction at Sotheby’s

The reel is estimated to be worth at least £50,000.

The Beatles’ audition tape for Decca – the label that famously declined to sign the Fab Four – is up for auction at Sotheby’s, where it is expected to fetch anywhere between £50,000 and £70,000.

The quarter-inch tape reel, which belonged to the Beatles’ then-manager Brian Epstein, was recorded at Decca’s studio in West Hampstead, UK in 1962. Fifteen songs were originally recorded across two tapes, but only the second survived. The audition tape features seven tracks:  Money, The Sheik Of Araby, Memphis Tennessee, Three Cool Cats, Sure To Fall (In Love With You), September In The Rain and Like Dreamers Do. 

The authenticity of the reel has been verified by Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, who explained the sonic subtleties of the recording to Sotheby’s: “The ending of Three Cool Cats is a single bass note longer than any version we’ve had before. The song September In The Rain is four seconds longer than any of the circulated versions as it includes a vocal line which is always edited out. These tiny differences do mark out the tape as original to Brian Epstein, not something created from any other known-to-exist source.”

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The tape will come with a CD transfer and letters of provenance and authenticity. Bidding began 6 December, and will close on 13 December at 2PM.

In other Beatles news, a free event celebrating Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band will take place later this month at the National Museums Liverpool’s Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building. The audio for the immersive listening event has been remixed and remastered by Giles Martin, son of Beatles producer George Martin.

Find the Sotheby’s listing for The Beatles’ audition tape here.

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