A unique ‘Holy Grail’ Beatles demo recording made by Brian Epstein has smashed its estimate at auction in the U.K.
The acetate featured two songs, ‘Hello Little Girl’ and ‘Till There Was You’, recorded by the band in 1962.
It was this very acetate which the band’s manager Epstein pressed into the hands of George Martin, the legendary producer and ‘Fifth Beatle’, who gave them their breakthrough record deal.
Having been valued at £10,000, the recording sold at Omega Auctions for £77,500 ($110,000).
“This is one of those Holy Grail items like the original Quarrymen acetate that the band recorded themselves,” said Ian Shirley, Editor of the Record Collector Rare Record Price Guide.
“This acetate is a unique item that, in many respects, helped Brain Epstein to start the ball rolling to musical world domination.”
“Its uniqueness is enhanced by Brian Epstein’s handwriting on the labels, and the recognition of what it led to – making it one of the rarest and most collectable of all Beatles records,” added leading Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn.
Having met unsuccessfully with a number of record labels, most notably Decca, Epstein was growing desperate to secure a deal for the band.
He decided to transfer two songs from their reel-to-reel demo tape to a ten-inch 78RPM acetate, reasoning that whilst most label executives didn’t have tape machines in their offices, they all record turntables – giving him a better chance to get the band heard.
Epstein turned to his friend Robert Boast, manager of London’s HMV record store, and together with disc cutter Jim Foy they pressed the acetate in the small recording studio beneath the store on Oxford Street.
Epstein then took the acetate to his fateful meeting with Martin at EMI on February 13, 1962 – a meeting which would eventually change music history.
A year later, having signed The Beatles and helped them record their debut album, Martin returned the acetate to Epstein.
It then found its way into the collection of another musician managed by Epstein, Les Maguire of Gerry and the Pacemakers, and remained tucked away for 50 years before hitting the auction block this week in Warrington.