Welcome to my new blog, where, based on the years of researching and writing about The Beatles, especially the early years, I have devoted my time to trying to investigate those key moments in Beatles history, based on evidence and eyewitness testimony.
I will take you through the processes of investigating each of the events, plus the interviews I have done, digging for evidence, so that we can know for sure, or beyond a reasonable doubt, what happened.
I will share those stories from my three books: “Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles”, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” and “Finding the Fourth Beatle”.
Why The Beatles Detective? A number of friends have referred to the manner in which I research my books as “forensic investigating”, and my “Liddypod” podcast pal Paul Beesley suggested I call myself “The Beatles Detective”. So blame him!
In the majority of Beatles books, including the two “authorised” bios – The Beatles: The Authorised Biography by Hunter Davies (1968) and Anthology (2000)along with The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark
Lewisohn (1988), it has been reported by several who were present at the
6th June session that this was an audition, carrying with it only the potential for a contract. And further, that the issuance of that contract
would be chiefly dependent on whether they could sufficiently impress
George Martin with their studio recording ability.
However, in his 2013 volume Tune In, Mark Lewisohn has reversed course,
and is now leading the side that claims that:
“…the crucial documents are clear beyond doubt and can dispel any
misleading information for whatever reason it existed: this was no audition at all.The Beatles were at EMI because they already had a contract.”
The crucial document he cites is EMI’s “red form”, typically filled out for
each of the various types of sessions that could be held, i.e. an Artist Test,
a Commercial Test, and a contractual Recording Session, with only the
latter containing “contract terms” such as royalty rates and Musician’s
Union (MU) fees for the artists.
Since the still existing forms associated with The Beatles’ 6th June session
contain the latter, including contractual information, Lewisohn opines that the red form document’s entries are clear and irrefutable proof that the
session was not either of the two types of Tests, but a contractually-based recording session.
Many authors propose that, despite the seemingly definitive appearance of
that single document, a plethora of other evidence exists to the contrary;
that the session was a Test of one form or another, and that a formal contract was dependent on the outcome of that Test.
We believe the contract status has a huge bearing on what happened next
to the group, particularly with respect to the drumming situation, which is
the principal subject matter of this book. It is therefore imperative that we
examine all of the available evidence to see if The Beatles truly were
performing under a contract when they visited EMI on 6th June, or whether such a contract was still looming, conditional on their satisfying the
musical sensibilities of the Parlophone record label head, George Martin.
The Paperwork Trail
The EMI paperwork shows the following timeline:
18th May 1962 – Application for Artists’ Contract submitted by George Martin to Miss Evelyn P Harwood (Administration) within EMI, commencing on 6th June 1962 for 1 year
24th May 1962 – Contract was sent from Miss Harwood to George Martin to be
forwarded to Brian Epstein for him to sign
Mr. G. Martin
The Beattles/Parlophone (Manager Mr. Brian Epstein)
Enclosed please find a copy of this contract for despatch to Mr. Epstein so
that he can sign and return it to us.
Brian Epstein is getting a royalty and I asked especially whether any
provision was to be made for payment of M.U. Rates to musicians at the
recording sessions, but I was told no, they would not get any such payment. I hope this is correct!
Evelyn F. Harwood, Administration, EMI Records Ltd.
25th May 1962 – Interdepartmental Memo from George Martin to Miss Harwood confirming he would pay The Beatles ‘Musicians Union’ fees
To: Miss E. Harwood, Administration. Hayes
Re: The Beattles/Parlophone
Thank you for your memo’ of May 24th, enclosing the Contract for the
In point of fact, I will pay the musicians the ordinary M.U. Fee but I did not
think that it was necessary to include this in the Contract.
G.H. Martin, E.M.I. Records Ltd.
5th June 1962 – Judy Lockhart-Smith, on behalf of George Martin, sends the
contract Brian had signed to Miss Harwood
To: Miss Harwood, Administration, Hayes.
Re: The Beatles
I am returning herewith Contract for the above artist duly signed.
G. Martin. E.M.I. Records Ltd.
18th June 1962 – Memo from Miss Harwood to George Martin enclosing the
the contract which has been “signed by the Secretary and witnessed”
Brian Epstein / The Beatles
Herewith agreement between the above parties. This has been signed by the Secretary and witnessed, and is for the artist’s retention.
Evelyn F. Harwood, Administration
Even though both authors of this book have experience in dealing with
contracts, and contract law, we felt that we needed to obtain independent
legal advice. Enter Peter Bounds CBE, former Chief Executive of Liverpool
City Council and solicitor. He examined the contract, the correspondence,
and the quotes from George Martin and the EMI staff, Brian Epstein, and
The Beatles, before reaching his conclusions.
“In law, for there to be a valid contract,” said Bounds, “there are five
elements that need to be present:
A valid offer and acceptance of that offer;
Consideration provided by both parties; (both parties must bring something to the bargain/contract)
An intention to create legal relations on the part of both parties
Certainty of terms, although not a required element, but if other elements
are in place, any uncertainty needs to be resolved by the parties.”
(DB Interview 2017)
Examining The Contract
The main question around the session is: when does it appear that the
parties intended a legal contractual relationship to exist? “The contract
may have been sent by the company as ‘an invitation to treat’ (i.e. to do
business), with Epstein returning the signed copy as the ‘offer’ and EMI
signing and returning it as the ‘acceptance’,” advised Bounds.
It is clear from the basis of the session on 6th June that neither side felt that the contract existed on 6th June, and that neither side intended to create
legal relations until after the audition and the company had decided to go
ahead.Further, by examining the clauses within the contract, especially
Clauses 10 and 3, it probably served The Beatles better on 6th June for the
contract not to have been in place. Why? Because this was a contract which heavily favoured the record company, and had it been in effect on 6th June,
it could have had a detrimental effect on the group. The Beatles would have been tied to Parlophone, who had no obligation to release a record, but it
would have stopped them from pursuing any other deals relating to their
This is because under the contract terms of Clause 10, it is very clear that
EMI’s only duties were to record six songs, and then, at their discretion,
decide whether to release them as records, or not.
Intention to Create Legal Relations
Peter Bounds further clarified the position of the two parties at the time of
the session on 6th June, and how we can’t determine if there was an
“intention to create legal relations on both parties”.
“The way a court operates is to look at what happened and say; ‘if the
parties had described what they did at the time in legal phraseology, what
would they have said they were doing at each point?” In this case, when the company sent the draft agreement out, they were most likely saying: ‘if we take you on, we propose it will be on these terms’. But the crucial word is ‘if’. Everything hinges on the audition. Hence the notion that the contract did
not come into effect until after the audition and the company decision to go ahead, i.e. it was subject to a prior condition, or , in lawyerspeak, a
This would mean that the action of sending the contract to Brian Epstein
was not seen as an offer, but an “invitation to treat”, a phrase that has developed to represent the pre-offer stage.
What evidence do we have regarding the intention to create legal relations? We have to examine the conversation that took place between George
Martin and Brian Epstein upon their first meeting. George Martin made it
clear what would happen next:
“What I said to Brian was; ‘if you want me to judge them on what you are
playing me, then sorry I have to turn you down’. He was terribly
disappointed and I felt really sorry for him as he was such an earnest young man. I did like him. So I gave him a lifeline and said, ‘I tell you what, if you want to bring them down from Liverpool, I’ll give them an hour in the
studio. Okay?’” (Arena: Produced by George Martin/ BBC Television)
Brian, naturally, agreed to whatever terms were being offered to him from Martin, which was to give them an audition. In return, Martin agreed to pay them for the session. There was, therefore, no intention on George Martin’s part to enter into a legally binding contract before seeing the group. This
would have been standard industry practice. With the audition approaching, Martin sent the contract to Brian on the basis that, if the audition went well, Parlophone would give them the contract. George Martin was very clear
“Why on earth would I have signed a group before I saw them? I would
never have done that, it’s preposterous.” (Mojo “The Beatles, Ten Years
That Shook The World)
The Beatles also knew exactly why they were there, and in what capacity.
When Paul McCartney was asked about this momentous day, he stated: “We were told that it was an audition for George Martin.” (The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions) In Anthology, he said that George Martin “agreed to audition us, and we had a notverypowerful audition in which he was not very
pleased with Pete Best.” George, also in Anthology, remembered the day and its purpose clearly: “The Parlophone audition was in June 1962. It went not too badly. I think George Martin felt we were raw and rough but that we had some quality that was interesting.” (Anthology)
The Beatles, Brian Epstein and George Martin no doubt saw this session as
an auditionand the day the draft contract that Brian had signed would go
into effect, if they passed the test. There was therefore no intention to
create legal relations, and so no valid contract.
For further information and detail about this important moment in Beatles history, you can read the full chapter in “Finding the Fourth Beatle” – http://www.thefourthbeatle.com
copyright David Bedford and Garry Popper. Finding the Fourth Beatle 2018
For many years, we have known that George Harrison, at the invitation of his school friend Paul McCartney, auditioned before John Lennon a few times. The place where he was successful, according to all sources, was on the top deck of a bus outside Wilson Hall in Garston. The date? 6th February 1958.
Or was it?
While researching my latest book, “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”, I re-examined the available evidence, with help from Quarrymen banjo player/ historian Rod Davis, especially looking at the exit from The Quarrymen of Eric Griffiths. We know that Eric left The Quarrymen because he was replaced by George. Eric put away his guitar and joined the Merchant Navy. I therefore obtained a copy of Eric’s Merchant Navy records (reproduced in the book) which shows that Eric joined his first ship on 11th February 1958! We could then see that Eric qualified as an officer cadet in January 1958, which means he would have signed up for the Merchant Navy in mid December 1957.
Therefore, George must have joined The Quarrymen before the middle of December 1957 for Eric to have left and signed up for the Merchant Navy. When we check the records, The Quarrymen played at Wilson Hall on 7th December 1957, which makes this the likely date for George’s successful audition to join The Quarrymen.
This means that John, Paul and George were together in a band by the end of 1957!
To read the full story, get your copy of my book, “The Fab one hundred and Four” now at www.fab104.com
Sometimes, just finding out a date for a photograph can take weeks. In “The Fab one hundred and Four”, I was determined to find out when the first colour photograph of The Quarrymen was taken. All we had been told was that it was taken some time in 1958.
Sounds easy, but it was anything but! In the photograph, leaning against the wall with a half pint of Guinness is Dennis Littler, a good friend of Paul McCartney’s cousin Ian Harris. I tracked Dennis down, to find out what I could. Dennis sometimes let John, Paul or George borrow his guitar, an Antoria Cello acoustic, which was more expensive than their guitars!
This is what Dennis remembered (taken from “The Fab one hundred and Four”):
“Paul, George and John would often come to my house and play on my guitar, because it was a lot more expensive than the guitars they had, and obviously was a much better guitar too. I never performed with The Quarrymen, but rehearsed with them. I remember Paul coming to me one day and saying that he had worked out how to play ‘Buttery’ by Charlie Gracie and he played it perfectly. He had that knack of being able to pick a song up so quickly and it was obvious how good he was. He could pick up songs like ‘Long Tall Sally’ by ear, and sing like Little Richard too because he had such a great voice.
“When Ian got married, John, Paul and George were asked to provide some music, which is when the photo was taken by Mike McCartney, the first colour photograph featuring The Beatles. I am seen next to the wall with my glass of Guinness. I don’t remember much about the day I’m afraid.”
So, the information that I had was that the photo was taken at the wedding of Ian Harris and Jacqueline Gavin. So all I needed to find was the day that Ian and Jacqueline got married. After searching databases and records, no such wedding took place between an Ian Harris and Jacqueline Harris between 1957 and 1959, and we know the wedding took place sometime in 1958. Where to go next?
As Ian Harris was a member of the McCartney family, they never use their first names. James Paul McCartney and Peter Michael McCartney for example. Ian’s dad was Harry, and as Paul had his father’s name, a search for Harry Ian Harris proved successful! In fact, Jacqueline didn’t use her first name either! She was Cecilia Jacqueline Gavin. Families eh? I then obtained a copy of the marriage certificate to provide the information I needed.
And so, as per the marriage certificate, Harry Ian Harris married Cecilia Jacqueline Gavin on 8th March 1958, the date the first colour photograph of The Quarrymen was taken, by Peter Michael McCartney!
So, for the purposes of the book, all you need to know is that the photo was taken on 8th March 1958. What you don’t see is the research behind finding that date. Believe me, that is the thrill of the historian/ researcher!
ConFABulation: Testing Beatles
History – Just Gimme Some Truth
I’m sick and tired of hearing things……
I’ve had enough of reading things……
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
Confabulation is a memory disorder in which the individual produces false memories. When people confabulate, they either report remembering
events that never occurred, or remember events as having occurred at an
incorrect time or place.
For example, a person who is confabulating may report a conversation that
never occurred, or may report a conversation that occurred three years ago as
having happened today.
When it comes to chronicling Beatles history, writers have several problemsto overcome, especially those of us who are diehard Beatles fans with
unbridled passion for the subject. Who is telling the truth, and who is
Confabulating the story of the Fab Four?
In “Finding the Fourth Beatle”, I felt that, because there were so many Beatles books out there, that I had to explain how I went about doing my research, and what historical tests I use.
There are a number of standard tests that historians use, and which I have always applied to any story I am investigating.
In any legal hearing or trial, there is the case for the defence and the case for the prosecution. Both sides will attempt to provide proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused is either innocent or guilty.
Documentary evidence is not open to speculation, though it can be
misinterpreted, but the most crucial part of either the defence or
prosecution is the summoning of their eyewitnesses.
These people can swing a case either way, depending on their reliability,
honesty and objectivity. However, neither side in the court will rely solely
on what the eyewitness says; they also have the chance to
cross-examine them and scrutinize their testimony.
Only then will the jury be satisfied that they are telling the truth, or lying under oath. What we have done is examine not only the eyewitness testimony of those who were intimately involved in The Beatles’ story, but the findings of authors, including ourselves, who have written about The Beatles.
Of course, we know that none of us authors is infallible!
Where possible, we have interviewed those key eyewitnesses again.
However, because so many of those first-hand observers are no
longer with us, we have to also apply similar tests to the Beatles authors – none of us is infallible.
Can the eyewitness testimony be trusted? Since it is the most vital of
evidence, and can be compelling and convincing, we have used these tests:
Intention. Was the intention of the writer or eyewitness to accurately
preserve history, or did they have an ulterior motive in presenting their
testimony in this way? “Hearsay and unverified testimony is often misrepresented as fact.”
(The Beatles and the Historians: An Analysis of Writings About the Fab Four)
Bias. Is there a bias by the author or eyewitness to make either themselves
or those around them look better than they really were?
Is it objective, honest and fair? “Many authors of Beatles books use
technically factual evidence in misleading ways –for example, by quoting
a source who supports the author’s point of view while ignoring countervailing evidence…when in fact it was just one source’s perspective
on a given ” (A Day in the Life – Mark Hertsgaard)
Timing. How close to the event is the testimony given? The closer the
eyewitness testimony is to the date of the event, the less likely
the possibility for legendary embellishment or development.
We take into account faulty memories and wishful thinking,
as well as deliberate revisionism.
Is there multiple, corroborative, independent attestation? What other
eyewitness accounts or physical evidence is there that can corroborate the
testimony, or contradict it? The more accounts that can confirm the story,
the more reliable it is, and the more likely it is to be accurate. It doesn’t mean that a single source should be discounted, but a higher
level of scrutiny is required. “Eyewitness testimony that lacks verification
from other, independent sources will be regarded as valuable but not
unquestionable. However, eyewitness testimony will be granted more weight than secondhand accounts or hearsay.” (The Beatles and the Historians: An Analysis of Writings About the Fab Four)
Oral History. Have the accounts been passed down so many times that errors creep in, resulting in an accidental “truth” being perpetuated?
It has been said that if you tell a lie often enough and loud enough,
people believe it is true. That is why we have approached this book with
an open mind, accepting nothing and challenging.
Do all the accounts concur, or are there discrepancies? Have eyewitnesses
changed their stories over the years? What can be considered the truth? As
historians, the truth is often unattainable, but we must gather as much
evidence as possible, and get as close as we can to the truth.
There are many documents available for inspection. Printed materials like
letters, contracts, posters, tickets and programs help us clearly corroborate
the events and support, or refute, eyewitness testimonies.
Evidence and Proof
What is the difference between evidence and proof? Author and historian
J. Warner Wallace – Cold Case Christianity – says that “while evidence is a
matter of objective truth, proof is in the mind of the evaluator, and many of us resist the truth in spite of the evidence.”
How can authors come to such different conclusions when they are often
examining the same evidence? We can offer evidence like eyewitness
testimony and documents all day long, but you have to have an open mind
to examine it and decide if the evidence supports the facts that we have
stated, and whether you feel we have given you sufficient proof.
Evidence: The facts we offer to support our claims of truth
Proof: What we infer from the facts offered
When examining testimony and evidence, we sometimes have to consider
the implications of what has been revealed. There are several ways of doing this, and one of the most dangerous is speculation, which can be
constructed to suit the agenda of the writer. However, what is more
appropriate is the abductive reasoning approach, which is a form of logical
conclusion, which starts with the available evidence, and then seeks to find the simplest and most likely explanation. It is important, therefore, to keep away from supposition, speculation and presumption where no evidence
Don’t just take my word, or the word of any author, based solely on
who we are, our reputations, or previous works, but on the facts and
evidence put before you. The truth is what you make of it, based on the
evidence, not the writer.
To quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan;
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
So follow me on my investigations, where I will separate the myths from the facts, and show you the evidence.