Who the Hell's This Act, The Beatles?
After the disastrous Decca audition in January, 1962, and rejection, the Beatles returned to Hamburg, Germany, this playing at the top clubs there like the new Star Club. It had some top acts at the time, legends like Fats Domino,Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and others. Of course, these were billed as the major acts, The Beatles were billed as a lesser group. Little Richard became a sort of mentor to them at the time. Richard thought only Paul could make it in rock music for is vocals but not as a band. He never thought of them as a hit group and the Beatle's manager offered Richard a 50% interest in the band's profits. At the time, Richard turned it down.
The Beatles were paid $500 a week and the Star Club had a capacity up to 1000. Once again, they played long and hard, from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.as the "house" band. While they were lesser known than the big acts, the club's owner admitted they always packed the club with loud, brash, fast, rock music Germans loved. For 1962, each Beatle earned $12.40 per hour, which was excellent wages! Compare to $1 hr. as the average rate then.
Epstein managed to get Little Richard to come to Liverpool for a concert. But, it was a pretext to promote his own band, The Beatles. When Little Richard discovered that the Beatles received equal or greater billing, Richard was pissed and told Epstein he would refuse to go on because of this. The issue was ironed out and it was the first large regional concert for the Beatles.
Epstein had an undying faith and love in The Beatles. He was telling everyone that was anyone, his band was going to be as big or bigger than Elvis. All the experts grinned and laughed at him. In an effort to get a record contract, he went around to Parlophone records in London and contacted a low level engineer who made demos, Jim Foy. Brian had met Jim and Brian got him to listen to the band's demo. Jim told his superior from Syd Coleman, who then contacted George Martin that maybe he should check the band out. Martin and Epstein met and the demo was again played. Martin, like those at Decca, did not think much of it. What caught Martin's attention was their rawness and boldness. It was not something Martin had seen before. They were different. Martin told Epstein to bring the band from Liverpool (several hours away) to London for a audition. This was around May 8, 1962.
The audition was on June 6. Norman Smith was one of the recording engineers working that day. His initial impression was, " just another wannabe band" before the actually meeting, but upon meeting them, it changed to "Wow". Like Martin, the Beatles got attention by being different, their hair, and their "aura". The Beatles brought in their amps, only 18 inches square. The engineers set the amps on chairs and a microphone about two inches from it. John and George plugged into the same small amp. Paul had an odd looking bass amp. After the set up, there was a sound check. In the recording booth, the engineer was hearing all sorts of extraneous sound from somewhere. It was discovered it came from poor wire connections in the bands amps. So, the engineer had to solder connections between the wires! Eventually, the engineer borrowed better amps from other rooms because the Beatles equipment was just bad.
The Beatles just played some standards this time. To the engineer, nothing outstanding but he did like John and Paul's voices. The Beatles personalities actually caused Martin to like them. They were comical and outspoken. Pete Best, however, did not seem to fit. He was quiet. After the audition, Martin and the other engineers simply liked their personalities more than their musical abilities. They were different, likable. In the back of Martin's mind was what kind of song would suit them. The songs they had written were not considered to be hit material.
Thus, the band was signed. It was just a humble beginning. Martin and the band liked one another. They were refreshing to Martin who had been told to find a new act. He felt there was not much to lose. Today, he is known as the "fifth Beatle".
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