Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Days Don't Get Bigger Than This

February 8, 1962

Brian Epstein has given up on Decca.  They had been toying with the idea of producing a single with the Beatles, if Epstein would pay for it out of his own pocket.  By now, Brian has convinced himself that route is a dead end.  But while in London, he doesn't see why he can't show the audition tapes around to see if he can scare up any other interest.

Epstein reconnects with a colleague, Bob Boast, who now manages the large and important HMV record store (His Masters Voice, called RCA in the US) in Oxford Street, the heart of London's shopping district.  Another example of a very important door that Brian could politely open that the Beatles themselves and their other Liverpool friends would have had to break down with a fireman's axe.  Epstein had previously met Mr Boast at a record retailing seminar and now he means to use the acquaintance on behalf of his boys.  He meets with Boast, who is in no position to help with a recording contract, but who advises him to have the tapes copied to disk.  That would make it much easier for him to hawk them around town to other record companies.  And that is a job that HMV is very well equipped to do.

The HMV recording engineer, Jim Foy, likes what he hears on the tapes and they talk about music publishing, a topic that Epstein knows very little about.  Foy introduces Epstein to another very important character in the story, music publisher Sid Coleman, who happens to have an office in the same building.  Since there are three original songs on the tapes, Coleman is interested in exploring the music publishing for these two guys.  What are their names?  Lennon and McCartney?

Oh, and he decides, just on a hunch, to give a friend of his a call.  An A and R man for Parlephone records named GEORGE MARTIN.  (HMV and Parlephone are both subsidiaries of record company conglomerate EMI, which also owns Columbia and Abbey Road Studios.)  Parlephone's stock in trade is comedy and novelty records.  Might they be interested in this rather eccentric band named after an insect?  A meeting with Martin is set up for the next week to see.

Here's what the site of these historic events looked like in 2000.  (It was undergoing renovation.)

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