Presented here are my own scans of the famous Albert Marion photographs, the first official ones of the Beatles, taken on December 17, 1961. (The Savage Young Beatles site also hosts these photos from their own scans--the link is on the right.) The last photo is a scan of an 8X10 signed by Pete Best when I met him in 2002.
Although Marion was already a respected photographer at the time, Brian Epstein had a connection with him because Marion was the photographer at his brother Clive's wedding. Against his business partner's wishes, Marion agreed to a session with this leather-clad, scruffy lot. As Marion reflected on the session, he remembered how John and Paul would often laugh and joke, messing up photos in the process. John got on his nerves the most by calling him "Curly," a reference to his male-pattern baldness! Unfortunately, Marion only preserved 16 negatives out of the 30 or so photos that were taken that day.
As I write this entry, I am listening to the Beatles' audition for Decca records, recorded January 1, 1962. I can imagine how excited the boys were, being afforded this remarkable opportunity by a major record label. Epstein was thrilled with the prospect--he had wined and dined Decca's head A&R man, Mike Smith, and had also taken him to a Beatles' gig at the Cavern. Smith was duly impressed and arranged the audition for 11 AM New Year's Day. The session did not get off to a good start, however. Eppy was furious because Smith was late, and when he arrived, Smith informed the group that they could not use their own amplifiers. When the recording began, the Beatles appeared to get nervous, as evidenced in their performance. Still, it is enjoyable, and after a few songs, they become more relaxed and confident. They persisted through 15 songs.
- Like Dreamers Do
- 'Till There Was You
- The Sheik of Araby
- To Know Her is to Love Her
- Take Good Care of My Baby
- Sure to Fall (In Love with You)
- Hello Little Girl
- Three Cool Cats
- Crying, Waiting, Hoping
- Love of the Loved
- September in the Rain
- Besame Mucho
Some controversy about this rejection persists. Apparently, the Beatles were not rejected on the basis of poor performance. Mike Smith had also auditioned Brian Poole and the Tremeloes on New Year's Day. Smith was told by Rowe that he could only sign one group, and since the Tremeloes were London-based, Decca would not have to be inconvenienced by the Beatles, a group located 200 miles away in Liverpool.
As fate would have it, George Harrison himself later recommended the Rolling Stones to Dick Rowe, and soon thereafter, Rowe offered a contract to them!
For more on the early days of the Beatles, please pick up Gareth Pawlowski's How They Became The Beatles: A Definitive History of the Early Years 1960 - 1964. The pictures within are priceless. Also, go to your nearest bookstore and request a copy of the new edition of John C. Winn's Way Beyond Compare, now published by Three Rivers Press!