The Beatles Audition with Decca Records, 1962
It was New Years Eve, 1962, when The Beatles traveled from Liverpool to London in an van with missing seats. It was their first attempt to get a record deal. They had got lost along the way during a snow storm but made it. Their new manager, Brian Epstein, had literally walked the demo tapes the band made to most of the record companies seeking that elusive fame and fortune. It would happen many more times to him and the Beatles. As John said in 1966, had it not been for Brian's persistence and faith in them, the Beatles would not have succeeded. None of them had the guts to go from company to company with a demo tape in 1961.
On this occasion, the band was terrified and anxious and nervous beyond belief. It was a long drive and the weather made it all the worse.The band did most of their songs used at the Cavern, some 20 titles including a Phil Spector song, To Know her Is To Love Her (in 1969, it was Phil that took over the "Get Back" tapes that Lennon called, "shit", and salvaged them to form the Let It Be album. More ironic, is that, McCartney had always opposed Spector and in 2002, released The Beatles Naked CD with the same songs as originally done), The Sheik of Araby, Oh Boy, September in the Rain, Like Dreamers Do, Hello Little Girl, Loved of the Love (these last three were original). They did their usual rock and roll standards from Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and others. In all, the audition last several hours.
Even John later would say, he and the others were too nervous. You can hear it in their playing and vocals. Paul admitted he could understand the rejection, "we weren't that good". After the audition, they tried to get a bite to eat at an upscale London restaurant, but they were low on money and could only order soup. They were asked to leave and they ended up in a working class area of Soho. It was on this trip when the band first saw what is now known as "Beatle boots" in a high end shoe store window. George really liked them.
Decca records was looking a polished rock band. According to John, the band just thought it was making a demo, which clearly meant there would be rough spots in the performance. The rejection from Decca nearly ended the band again (the first time was when they were deported from Germany six months earlier). They all were depressed and felt there was nowhere to go with their dream. Decca did sign another band instead, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. Clearly, Decca missed the boat about the Beatles and they would not be the only ones.
So, for 15 pounds, the band now had a decent demo tape for Brian to try to sell to record companies. Some numbers were way better than others, but it was a calling card. As John said later, "Even when were down or depressed, I would say, where are we going, fellas?" The unified chant returned was always, "To the top, Johnny, to the top!".