A letter has been uncovered that invited a drummer to audition for The Beatles – just before a tour to Hamburg that would help propel them to world-wide fame.
It was hand-written by Paul McCartney when he was just 18 in response to an anonymous drummer advertising his services in August 1960. Tragically for him, and for reasons unknown, he never got the job.
Incredibly, the letter surfaced earlier this year at a car boot sale in Liverpool folded inside a book.
The find has excited Beatles historians not least because it is one of the earliest occasions that the band referred to themselves as The Beatles.
Dated August 12, the note was a reply to a job advert that appeared in the Liverpool Echo on August 8 that simply read ‘Drummer – Young – Free’.
Tantalisingly, no name appeared on the advert, and Sir Paul’s response begins politely with ‘Dear Sir’.
He then writes: ‘In reply to your advertisement in Echo, Wed. night, we would like to offer you an audition for the position of drummer in the group.
‘You will, however, need to be free soon for a trip to Hamburg (expenses paid £18 per week (approx.) for 2 months.) If interested, ring Jacaranda club, Slater St. [ROYAL 65’64] and ask for either a member of the ‘BEATLES’ Alan Williams [sic], or else leave a message, stating when you will be available.
‘Yours sincerely, Paul McCartney of THE BEATLES.’
At the time the band consisted of McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and bassist Stuart Sutcliffe.
They desperately needed a drummer, as the tour to Germany began days after the letter was written on August 15 and the group had agreed that they’d go as a five-piece band.
What happened next remains a mystery.
Perhaps an audition took place and The Beatles weren’t impressed, or even worse for the drummer – given the group’s meteoric rise to superstardom – he turned down a job offer.
What we do know is that Pete Best joined the group and went to Hamburg. He was, of course, replaced by Ringo Starr in 1962.
It was previously thought that Pete Best, who the group saw play at the Casbah Coffee Club, was always the first choice drummer.
It’s clear now that they were still deliberating over who should fill the post.
From a historical perspective, the letter also enlightens us that The Beatles knew more about their forthcoming trip than previously believed.
McCartney’s note refers to the approximate level of expenses they would be paid, as well as the duration of the contract.
The contract was signed on August 15. Before now it was not known that The Beatles were aware before going that they would be in Hamburg for two months.
The letter, from an anonymous seller, is being auctioned at Christie’s South Kensington office on November 15 and is expected to fetch around £9,000.
Neil Roberts, the auction houses’s director of popular culture, said: ‘One of the best aspects of my work is the rare occasion when, out of the blue, you are made aware of the existence of something so extraordinary, it alters the knowledge of your specialist field. This letter has proved to be such a case.
‘My initial reaction was one of disbelief, but on seeing the item and being able to research the significance of the date and its content as well as conferring with renowned Beatles historians, it has turned out to be much more significant than mere words on paper.
‘It is exciting to be able to offer to market a newly discovered important item of Beatles memorabilia, on behalf of an individual who was fortunate enough to find it folded up in a book at a car boot sale.’Last Updated: 11/18/11 09:36