McCartney Times

Decca Studios (closed)

Decca Studios (closed)

Decca Studios (closed)

165 Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, London, UK


The Beatles relationship with Decca Records goes back to the time when Brian Epstein had been diligently pursuing them re obtaining a recording contract with one of the majors.

Decca’s A & R man, Mike Smith had travelled to Liverpool to see the boys at The Cavern, and was sufficiently impressed to invite them down to London to audition on 1st January 1962.

So on 31st December, 1961, Neil Aspinall drove them to London, but he lost his way, and the trip took ten hours. They arrived after 10:00 p.m. New Year’s Eve, “just in time to see the drunks jumping into Trafalgar Square fountain” as John put it.

Paul, John, George and Pete Best arrived at Decca Studios at 10 a.m. on New Year’s Day, not the best day to embark on such a venture. As it turned out, Mike Smith had partied a little too hard the night before, and arrived, very hung over, as well as suffering from a recent car crash, so the proceeding session started later than planned.

In those days, it was customary for the “victims” to play between two and five songs, but as it turned out, they wound up playing 15 numbers, and they broke for lunch and resumed in the afternoon. You can imagine how tired they must have been at this stage.

It was about a month before they learned that Decca had rejected them. The general opinion was that “guitar groups were on their way out” and someone even said “The Beatles are on their way out.” Oops!

However, undaunted, Brian continued his pursuit, and approached EMI and was put in touch with Norrie Paramor, Walter Ridley and Normal Newell, but all three of them declined the offer.

They eventually signed with an EMI subsidiary, Parlophone, after Producer George Martin heard the recorded session they had done at Decca, and was interested to meet them.

Incidentally, that original tape from Decca, was later sold at auction to a Japanese collector for $35,000, so maybe it wasn’t that bad after all?


Map Link:

You can hear the tape they produced on that day here:

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