The Beatles’ first contract with manager Brian Epstein – marking the start of their transformation into world-conquering pop band – is going under the hammer.
Epstein signed up Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Pete Best – the band’s first drummer – on January 24 1962, just two months after he first heard them play. The paperwork, from “before any of the music that we know and love”, could fetch £300,000 at Sotheby’s. Later dubbed the “fifth Beatle”, Epstein had no experience of band management and was running a record shop when he took up the Liverpool band. Sotheby’s Books And Manuscripts specialist Gabriel Heaton described the contract as “an important piece of our cultural history” and a “transformative document”.
Epstein was determined to represent The Beatles after hearing them at The Cavern Club in Liverpool and became “hugely important” in their transformation, shaping the band. “He was just blown away by the passion, the energy, the charisma, the raw sexuality on stage,” Mr Heaton told the Press Association. “They had the stage energy but he instilled a sense of professionalism in them. “He stopped them eating on stage. He made sure they played the songs properly and coherently, and he got them bowing at the end of a set. He ensured that they actually made it to gigs.” The document gave Epstein responsibility for finding the band work, managing their schedule, publicity and “all matters concerning clothes, make-up and the presentation and construction of the artists’ acts and also on all music to be performed”. But Epstein did not sign the contract, saying “even though I knew I would keep the contract in every clause, I had not 100% faith in myself to help The Beatles adequately … I wanted to free The Beatles of their obligations if I felt they would be better off”.
A previous manager, Allan Williams, had advised Epstein “they’ll let you down” and “don’t touch them with a f*****g bargepole”. Epstein entered the band’s lives when they were in danger of losing momentum and they were “getting a bad reputation for turning up late, for generally being brash and loud”.
The contract states Epstein’s fee would be 10% rising to 15% if their earnings should exceed £120 a week, with McCartney negotiating the upper percentage down from 20%. Before getting the group signed up, Epstein did not know what a contract should look like.“He asked a record company contact to send a sample because he’d never managed a band before,” Mr Heaton said. “He said he was shocked by the terms, said that the sample contract had been drawn up by people ‘who knew more about a fast buck than does a slow doe’. He made sure this was a much fairer contract.”
The document, said to have been signed in Best mother’s front room, is one of two contracts drawn up between Epstein and The Beatles. Following Best’s departure from the band, a new contract was signed on October 1 1962 with Ringo Starr as drummer – and Epstein’s cut is higher. “It’s Brian Epstein who is asked by the others to do the deed on Pete and tell him he’s out,” Mr Heaton said.
The contract, from the collection of Epstein’s publisher Ernest Hecht, is being auctioned for the first time, in Sotheby’s English Literature Online sale which runs from July 1-9.
A legendary record producer and performer takes readers on an alphabetical journey of insights into the music of the Beatles and individual reminiscences of John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
Peter Asher is best known as the former producer and manager of such massively popular artists as Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor, and before that as half of the English duo Peter and Gordon.
Now Asher has written a book about his friends: The Beatles from A to Zed: An Alphabetical Mystery Tour. The hardcover book will be published on Nov. 12 by Henry Holt & Co.Asher met the Beatles in the spring of 1963, and he was present at the creation of some of their music.
Says the pre-publication promotional announcement: “But Asher was also a talented musician in his own right, with a great ear for what was new and fresh. Once, when Paul McCartney wrote a song that John Lennon didn’t think was right for the Beatles, Asher asked if he could record it. ‘A World Without Love’ became a global number-one hit for his duo, Peter and Gordon. A few years later Asher was asked by Paul McCartney to help start Apple Records and the first artist Asher discovered and signed up was a young American singer-songwriter named James Taylor. Before long he would be not only managing and producing Taylor but also (having left Apple and moved to Los Angeles) working with Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Robin Williams, Joni Mitchell and Cher, among others.”
In The Beatles from A to Zed, based upon 26 episodes of his current and highly popular radio show From Me to You on the Beatles Channel of SiriusXM, Asher shares his memories and insights about the Fab Four, weaving his reflections into a whimsical alphabetical journey that focuses not only on songs whose titles start with each letter, but also on recurrent themes in the Beatles’ music, the instruments they played, the innovations they pioneered, the artists who influenced them, the key people in their lives, and the cultural events of the time.
Peter Asher met the Beatles in the spring of 1963, the start of a lifelong association with the band and its members. He had a front-row seat as they elevated pop music into an art form, and he was present at the creation of some of the most iconic music of our times.
New film ‘Yesterday’ by Danny Boyle forces viewers to imagine life without The Beatles. Yesterday, written by Richard Curtis, was shown in Liverpool last month ahead of its official release on 28 June.
Imagined life without the Fab Four? Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis are about to release their new movie ‘Yesterday’ which lets you do just that.
Yesterday, is a film in which struggling musician Jack finds he is the only person to remember the songs of John, Paul, George and Ringo, it was shown in the city in May, a month ahead of its official release date.
Parts of the new film were filmed in Liverpool, and the movie is released during the 30th anniversary year of Liverpool Film Office which last year alone brought 366 different film and TV projects to our city.
Written by Curtis and directed by Boyle, the movie follows Jack, played by Eastenders’ actor Himesh Patel, as he wakes from a freak accident to find no one else in the world remembers the songs made famous by The Beatles.
Starting from the house he shares with his parents, played by Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar, in Suffolk, Jack travels to Moscow, Los Angeles and then on a magical mystery tour to Liverpool as the world reacts to hearing the famous songs for the first time.
Ed Sheeran plays himself in the movie, changing the lyrics to one of the group’s most famous ballads to “hey dude”, and it also features a cameo from James Corden.
Downton Abbey actress Lily James plays Jack’s manager and best friend, while Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon stars as his money-obsessed manager.
The hometown of The Beatles is another of the film’s stars, with famous locations such as Penny Lane and Strawberry Field featured, as well as the city’s Pier Head, Lime Street train station and the Mersey Tunnel.
As Patel sings his way through much of the band’s extensive back catalogue, former Coronation Street actress Sarah Lancashire sums up the situation near the film’s end when she says: “A world without The Beatles is a world that’s infinitely worse.”
Introducing the film at s special screening in May, Liverpool’s deputy mayor Wendy Simon said: “The film does celebrate the musical legacy of The Beatles which is really important for us as a city.
“The Beatles bring hundreds of thousands of people to this city year in and year out.”
She added: “Last year was our busiest year yet for film and TV production and we’re delighted Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis decided to shoot on location here in our city, proving once again Liverpool has established itself as a world class destination for film.”