Hear the 1962 Beatles Demo that Decca Rejected: “Guitar Groups are on Their Way Out, Mr. Epstein”

It’s been called the biggest mistake in music history. On New Year’s Day 1962, Decca Records had the opportunity to hear two new bands. One was Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. The other was an obscure group from Liverpool called the Beatles. Of course, Decca chose the Tremeloes. “Guitar groups are on their way out, Mr. Epstein,” was what the label’s senior A&R man, Dick Rowe, reportedly said to Beatles manager Brian Epstein. The Beatles, who at that time included Pete Best on drums, recorded 15 songs on New Year’s Day at the Decca Studios in London and selected 10 for their demo tape. The original 10-song tape (see the hand-written list of tracks below) will be auctioned today in London. Organizers expect it to sell for around $30,000. Despite all the pre-auction hype, the demo tracks themselves have been around for decades on bootleg and “grey market” records. And they’re online. You can listen below and decide for yourself: If you were a record company executive, would you have signed the Beatles?

  1. “Like Dreamers Do” (Lennon-McCartney)
  2. “Money (That’s What I Want)” (Gordy/Bradford)
  3. “Till There Was You” (Meredith Willson)
  4. “The Sheik of Araby” (Smith/Wheeler/Snyder)
  5. “To Know Her is to Love Her” (Phil Spector)
  6. “Take Good Care of My Baby” (King/Goffin)
  7. “Memphis, Tennessee” (Chuck Berry)
  8. “Sure to Fall (In Love with You)” (Cantrell/Claunch/Perkins)
  9. “Hello Little Girl” Lennon-McCartney)
  10. “Three Cool Cats” (Leiber/Stoller)
  11. “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” (Buddy Holly)
  12. “Love of the Loved” (Lennon-McCartney)
  13. “September in the Rain” (Warren/Dubin)
  14. “Bésame Mucho” (Consuelo Velásquez)
  15. “Searchin'” (Leiber/Stoller)

Related content:

The Making of the Beatles Song ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’

‘Here Comes the Sun': The Lost Guitar Solo by George Harrison

The ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ Demos: The Making of a Beatles Classic


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Comments (10)
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  1. Sam says . . . | November 27, 2012 / 9:30 am

    Nah… THey were right.. The Beatles were just a fad !!!!

  2. hefty j says . . . | November 27, 2012 / 1:10 pm

    I guess this set of “songs” will now be released in Mono Stereo CD BluRay DVD Elpee cassette and 8track so all the yuppies can fulfill their wet dreams. Nice.

  3. Kevin says . . . | November 28, 2012 / 1:18 pm

    In the guy’s defense, there’s nothing really outstanding that I heard. They sounded just like every other band that wanted to be Elvis at that point.

  4. zoyelque says . . . | December 4, 2012 / 8:53 pm

    @Kevin,Except that there were No Bands doing what they were doing until they arise to fame,what a coincidence that every other band started after they The Beatles started the British invation.

  5. Michael says . . . | December 7, 2012 / 10:50 am

    Decca did the world a big big favour by turning them down, else they would have released this and then have been forgotten. Now they were instead forced to put their act together and they found George Martin who shaped their music.
    Thank you Decca

  6. Rab says . . . | December 11, 2012 / 6:04 am

    So what was the Decca album ‘The Silver Beatles’, and where did that fit in? It was

  7. Rab says . . . | December 11, 2012 / 6:06 am

    …it was mainly rock’n’roll covers.

  8. Bob Ludwig says . . . | April 28, 2013 / 2:49 pm

    That can’t be the original tape box.
    Decca would have recorded it FULL-track mono, not 2-track mono. More importantly the Dolby-A Noise Reduction System was not invented until 1966!

  9. Robert Gruner W. says . . . | July 2, 2013 / 4:05 pm

    I totally agree with what Michael says.. Decca did the world a big big favour by turning them down, else they would have released this and then have been forgotten. Now they were instead forced to put their act together and they found George Martin who shaped their music.
    Thank you Decca..
    Excellent comment..

  10. Terence says . . . | October 9, 2014 / 12:51 pm

    Always a no-nothing troll with nothing better to do than negativity.

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