The Beatles - Cavern Club tapes (partially found recordings of British rock band; early 1960s)
The Beatles were a British rock group that formed in Liverpool, England, and were active from their formation in 1960 to their dissolution in 1970. The band's lineup went through several changes before the classic lineup of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr was established. They have since been recognized as one of the greatest acts in the music industry and had sold over 1 billion records worldwide by 2014. Rolling Stone ranked them #1 on their list of "100 Greatest Artists". Richie Unterberger of AllMusic has stated that The Beatles "introduced more innovations into popular music than any other rock band of the 20th century". Prior to becoming an international success, the band was mostly known locally for their performances at The Cavern Club from 1961 to 1963. During their time performing at The Cavern, several recordings are known to have been made.
The Cavern Club
The Cavern club was originally opened by Alan Sytner on January 16th, 1957, as a jazz club. Although initially a jazz club, the club would become more rock-centered in the mid-1960s In addition to The Beatles, musicians such as Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry, Elton John, Adele, and many others performed at The Cavern as well as groups such as Queen, The Rolling Stones, Oasis, and The Kinks. The original club was demolished in 1974 to allow for the construction of a railway ventilation duct. The area was instead used as a parking lot. The club was reconstructed near the original location in 1984 using bricks from the original site as well as the original blueprints.
The Beatles' Performances
The performance which John Lennon's pre-Beatles band The Quarrymen debuted at The Cavern has been stated by former banjo player Rod Davis to be sometime before August 1957; the group made various other appearances performing skiffle, which was allowed. The Beatles first performed at The Cavern on February 9th, 1961. The band has been documented to have played a minimum of 155 lunchtime shows and 125 evening shows. Brian Epstein would visit The Cavern after reading about them in Mersey Beat magazine. After seeing the group perform, he believed that the group held great potential. He would later become their manager. Brian later relieved Pete Best from the band due to EMI producer George Martin being dissatisfied with Pete's drumming abilities; local drummer Ringo Starr would serve as his replacement. The Band gave their final performance on August 4th, 1963, during the group's rise to stardom.
Former Beatles press officer Tony Barrow has recalled on numerous occasions that sometime in late 1961, Brian Epstein approached him asking if he could write about the band; Barrow was the writer of a review column in a local newspaper at the time. Barrow told Brain that he would be unable to write about the group until they had released a record. Brian later presented Gordon with an acetate of the band performing live at The Cavern which he claimed was to be a part of an upcoming TV documentary about The Cavern.
In Apple to the Core, Barrow recalled that the recording was plagued by background noise and "didn't sound too good". Barrow also recalled that he agreed with Epstein that he would attempt to secure an audition with Decca for the band via "the strength of the recording".
Barrow seemingly contradicted previous his previous comments about the quality of the recording during a preparation for a 2001 interview in saying that "It was impossible to distinguish any music or the vocalist," and that all that could be heard other than the crowd members' response was a beat in the background.
Audience Member Recording (Lost)
On August 29, 1985, an 18-track recording of the band performing made by an audience member in Mid-1962 was put up for auction at Sotheby's. The auction was won by Paul McCartney after he placed a bid of ₤2,310. Very few details about the tape are known. Mark Lewisohn stated in the special edition of Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years: Volume 1 that he had heard the tapes prior to sale and that the audio quality "was so atrocious it was hard to make out which songs were being played.”
The set list of the tape is known to be as follows:
- Words of Love
- What's Your Name
- Roll Over Beethoven
- Ask Me Why
- The Hippy Hippy Shake
- Til There Was You
- Hey! Baby
- If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody
- Please Mister Postman
- Sharing You
- Your Feet's Too Big
- Dizzy Miss Lizzy
- I Forgot to Remember to Forget
- I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Young Blood
- Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)
Granada TV Recordings (Partially Found)
On August 22nd, 1962, after receiving numerous letters about the group, Granada TV recorded the band performing 2 takes of Leiber and Stoller's "Some Other Guy" and 4 minutes of silent footage to be used for cutaway shots. The shoot took place 6 days after original drummer Pete Best was dismissed and replaced by Ringo Starr. The footage was recorded in black and white and suffered prominent grain. Because only one microphone was used to record, the captured audio was poor. Both the performance footage and silent footage have seen use in numerous documentaries and have appeared on bootlegs.
2 weeks after the shoot, sound technician Gordon Barrow was sent to capture higher quality audio that was to be dubbed over the footage. Gordon recorded an hour's worth of audio during his time at the club. The program which the footage was to be broadcast on was cancelled due to legal issues with other artists set to appear. The footage wouldn't be broadcast until the band had become a national success in Britain. Gordon created 5 acetates containing the group's performances of "Some Other Guy" and "Kansas City" at the request of Brian Epstein, who intended to use them for promotional purposes. One of the acetates were auctioned at Christie's in 1993 for £16,000 to Apple Corps, the company founded by the band later in their career. The performances of "Kansas City" and "Some Other Guy" both saw use in the anthology project and have appeared on bootlegs. The hour-long recording was ordered to be destroyed. The original source tape for Gordon's acetates was found in 2015 after being forgotten in a desk for over 50 years.
Rehearsal Recordings (Partially Found)
The band is known to have recorded themselves rehearsing several times; it is believed that such recordings were made for referential purposes.
The band is documented to have recorded themselves rehearsing on January 22nd, 1962; no other details are known.
Sometime between October or December 1962, the band recorded a rehearsal. The rehearsal has appeared on bootlegs. The circulating audio captures one take of "I Saw Her Standing There," two takes of "One After 909," and two takes of "Catswalk". Due to the combined length of the tracks, it seems possible that they were part of a longer recording.
Mike McCartney, Brother of Paul McCartney, stated in his autobiography The Macs: Mike McCartney's family album that he had recorded the band rehearsing on multiple occasions and still possessed one of the recordings he had made. He claimed that nobody other than himself had heard the recording. It's possible that the recording he was referring to is of the same rehearsal that has appeared on bootlegs.
A photograph of the band taken during a rehearsal in January 1963 shows a portable tape recorder at the bottom, leaving it likely that this rehearsal, as well as others that occurred around the time, were recorded.
- Guinness World Records page on records held by the band Retrieved 25 Mar '18
- Rolling Stone list of the greatest artists Retrieved 27 Mar '18
- AllMusic artist biography 27 Mar '18
- BBC article on The Cavern's 50th anniversary Retrieved 27 Mar '18
- BBC article on The Cavern Retrieved 27 Mar '18
- Cavern Club website page mentioning musicians who had played at the club in the past Retrieved 26 Mar '18
- Daily Mail article on The Cavern going up for sale Retrieved 27 Mar '18
- BBC article in which Davis denies the August 7th date Retrieved 25 Mar '18
- Telegraph article on the group's first appearance Retrieved 25 Mar '18
- Beatles Bible page on the group's final performance at the club Retrieved 27 Mar '18
- Beatles Bible page on Brian's first meeting with the group Retrieved 27 Mar '18
- UltimateClassicRock page on Pete's dismissal Retrieved 26 Mar '18
- Unterberger, Richie (2014). The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film [Revised & Expanded Ebook Edition]
- The Daily Beatle post on unreleased material Retrieved 22 Mar '18
- Cavern Club website page on the discovery of the tape Retrieved 24 Mar '18
- Beatles Bible page on the date Retrieved 27 Mar '18
- Beatles Bible page on The song Retrieved 27 Mar '18
- Everett, Walter (2001). The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men Through Rubber Soul. pp. 129