Listen to the Beatles’ first-ever audition for Decca Records

Before they found international stardom, the Beatles were just a small band from Liverpool, cutting their teeth in the early ’60s by performing in local clubs.

At the same time, their manager Brian Epstein was trying to get them in front of major record labels in order to kickstart their career. In 1962, the band went to audition for the renowned Decca Records. Check out their performance below.

the beatles, decca audition

Before they found global success, the Beatles faced rejection from numerous record labels. One such instance was the famed Decca Records.

After being rejected by numerous labels including the likes of Columbia, HMV, Pye, Philips, and Oriole, in 1961 Epstein turned to EMI and Decca. Decca sent an A&R executive to watch the band perform at Liverpool’s iconic Cavern Club. Following this, they were invited to London for an audition in front of the label heads.

The session was organised for New Year’s Day in 1962 at Decca Studios in West Hampstead, North London. At this point the group consisted of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Pete Best on drums, before Ringo Starr joined the band later that year.

Check out our article on Engineering the Sound: The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’.

On their way to the audition, snowstorms led the band’s driver Neil Aspinall to get lost. What was supposed to be a four-hour journey turned into ten hours. They arrived at 10 pm. Lennon described it was “just in time to see the drunks jumping in the Trafalgar Square fountain”. The following morning, they went to the audition.

Due to the large number of bands auditioning, Decca usually asked acts to record between two and five songs. Disregarding this, The Beatles recorded 15 songs during their session. They imagined that, if successful, the first single could be pulled from the tape. Feeling happy with their performance, they headed home.

A month later they found out that they had been rejected by Decca. The label had instead decided to sign Brian Poole and the Tremeloes who had auditioned that same day. On the decision, a company executive described that “guitar groups are on the way out” and “the Beatles have no future in show business.” 

Epstein turned to his last option, handing over the Decca demos to EMI subsidiary Parlophone. In one of the cheapest deals ever made by the label, they signed the band. Parlophone went on to become one of the world’s most famous labels. Decca was sure to regret their decision for a long time to come.

Beards, wives and denim: Take a peek inside the Beatles’ last photoshoot ever and feel the tension. 

Listen to the band’s Decca audition, and check out the tracklist, below.

Track List:

1. Money (That’s What I Want) [0:00]
2. To Know Her Is To Love Her [2:26]
3. Memphis, Tennessee [5:01]
4. Till There Was You [7:22]
5. Sure To Fall (In Love With You) [10:23]
6. Besame Mucho [12:27]
7. Love Of The Loved [15:07]
8. September In The Rain [17:00]
9. Take Good Care Of My Baby [18:57]
10. Crying, Waiting, Hoping [21:26]