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The Beatles at Abbey Road, 1962, and Their First Record Contract!

Updated on June 8, 2012

While the Beatles were playing their last gig at the Starclub in Hamburg, Germany, in 1962, their manager, Brian Epstein, had converted the Beatles audition tape they had done at Decca Records into a disc. Brian, once again, set out in London trying find a record company. EMI had already turned them down for their major labels, but their was another inherited label, Parlophone Records that EMI had. The label was really a loser one of comedy records, and its A&R man, George Martin, had no real success. The label was sort of a "joke" at EMI. A label for the wannabes. EMI was planning to shutdown Parlophone and the 29. yr. old Martin was in fear of losing his 1100 pounds a year salary. Thus, Martin was in desperate need of success to prove to the EMI it was viable.

Enter the Beatles. It was just frickin' luck. Brian walked into the Parlophone records at this time with their demo. Martin listened and gave Brian a lukewarm approval. Martin saw potential in John's and Paul's vocals\harmonies. Martin's boss had told him to look for a rock band but Martin despised the music himself but did his duty. To Martin, there was only his job to lose so he wanted to hear a live audition.

So, in June, 1962, the band bundles up and hauls off in their old van to Abbey Road in London. Unlike their last time in 1969, this was yet another nerve wracking audition. The Beatles did a bunch of standards at the behest of Epstein, all Martin thought were horrible renditions. When they introduced their original, Love Me Do, Martin thought the lyrics were about as clever as a stupid greeting card. He hated them. Pete Best's drumming was excessive and out of whack. The band, Martin thought, was too loud (well, they were a bar band). The melody was just okay, a little too simple (which it is). Martin actually like the band's personalities more than their playing. They all got on well, joked with each other.

Based on the audition, Parlophone Records, offered The Beatles their first, ever, record contract in August. The band thought the years of hitting paydirt had finally paid off-no more Hamburg!

Ask any celebrity, they all pay dues and hardships to achieve the dream. Some stumble into luck of being at the right place at the right time, others grind away until either they give up and make it. For the Beatles, it had been two years as a band, much longer for the core Beatles-John, Paul and George, more like 4-5 years. The stars in their horoscope seemed to be aligning up slowly. The Parlophone contract was the last one, yet, as a contract, it was the worse contract ever in the recording industry at the time without being a crime. It was robbery to all but the Beatles, who were in heaven.

The contract called for only two singles or four songs for release in one year. The band would be paid a royalty of 1 cent per single sold and any increases would be not more than a half cent. The contract also hinged on the fact that Pete Best, their drummer, was out of the band. None of the Beatles wanted to do this nasty work because they all were good friends with Pete and his family, who also treated them like "sons" and owned a small club they played in from the start. Brian did this on August 16. Pete eventually became a baker, earning 8 pounds a week. The Beatles would earn $40 million in the next 24 months!

In entertainment, luck and talent are 50\50.


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