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Author Topic: Beatles First Audition Tape at Abbey Road FOUND - Emerick Family Legal Battle  (Read 1135 times)
guitarfool2002
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« on: June 13, 2020, 06:24:19 PM »

Article: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/11852114/court-battle-secret-recording-the-beatles/

So I know this has been discussed probably all over the Beatles online resources (which I rarely partake in), and it's up to 6 pages in under 24 hours on the Hoffman forums, but I thought it worth noting here. Long story short - Geoff Emerick had literally just started an apprenticeship at Abbey Road when The Beatles showed up to record their audition for George Martin. Emerick was present as an apprentice, he was 17 I believe. Pete Best was still the drummer. As everyone knows, some of that tape was "found" and included on Anthology so people could hear what Best sounded like on at least one very famous tune that day. But now Emerick's family came forth with the more complete tape which Geoff had kept in a safe, and it's going to court over ownership rights. Emerick said EMI originally told him to get rid of the tape, but he instead kept it...which no one knew apparently until yesterday when the story broke.

I mention this here as on-topic because there have been similar tape "finds" in the vast Beach Boys history, not only "Holy Grail" video (and audio too) of the unused CBS News Inside Pop film, but also cases where someone has literally shown up with reels of session tape that made its way onto copyright-extension releases and other products, and some tape is still mostly unheard by most people. Besides, of course, what exists but isn't yet known to exist if any of that exists... Smiley There have also been known cases of reels being thrown out, or ordered to be wiped or thrown out, and if the Emerick case is only one example of what could have been standard practice, maybe someone who was told to "take out the trash" may have secreted away those tapes instead.

Again, apologies if it's repeating what others are already asking and saying, but this is a fascinating story that is hitting home on several levels, and maybe some perspectives and knowledge here can help clear it up. The first reported article seems to have some MAJOR gaps, which are addressed below.

First, and foremost: The article clearly states VIDEO and cites people who have seen it. Quite literally, my reaction was WTF? Unless this was done and missed for almost 60 years by Beatles experts and everyone else including the band themselves, is this just a glaring king-size error in reporting to say video instead of audio? Why would EMI film an unknown band? I have to think it is *audio* of that first session. All the evidence points to it being only audio. But then again, who knew Geoff Emerick rescued such a tape from the trash for all those years? I have to think the Anthology producers including the other Beatles didn't know he had it, unless it was a well-guarded secret that stayed a secret among the true inner circle (including Neil Aspinall). Thoughts?

Second, the issue of the legality and ownership rights. We touched on this in the recent discussion on studios reusing tape, but not to this degree. Emerick told family EMI ordered him to get rid of the tape. Some are parsing words to suggest did EMI tell him to "destroy" the tape or "dispose of" the tape. Going one way or the other would, some suggest, decide ownership because if Emerick was told to destroy it and kept it instead, he did not follow EMI orders and EMI could claim he stole the tape. If they told him to dispose of it, Emerick could have placed the tape(s) in a trash can, fulfilled his orders, then pulled them out again and he would effectively claim ownership just like the old practice of dumpster diving. Once someone throws the item away, they forfeit ownership as some would cite as Emerick's justification to where it isn't theft and he followed EMI orders as part of his job.

So there's that for the legal scholars and eventually this coming week the courts to mull over.

I think Emerick's estate can claim ownership unless an EMI memo surfaces with their direct orders to Geoff to "destroy" the tape versus throw it in the trash bin. Obviously no such chance of that exists, if it does it's one in 10 million or more. It's the family word against EMI on a single order given in 1962. Good luck sorting that out.

Like I said earlier, where it ties in to the Beach Boys are the numerous reported examples of tapes - audio or video - being "out there" and in the possession of someone who claims ownership other than the band or whatever company might be involved. If CBS News had 30 minutes of Inside Pop outtakes, and they threw them away, someone could have picked them out of the trash bin. Can CBS come back and demand they be returned? Can the Beach Boys demand *they* get those tapes? Can that person who first pulled them out of the trash or wherever else be called a thief, or do the laws of possession apply? Were the tapes ordered destroyed or thrown out? Wild stuff. But BRI has paid "private" individuals for audio, and the question becomes how did that individual get those tapes in the first place and were they in fact stolen originally.

Just curious what some opinions may be...and still trying to figure out how the blatant difference between *video* and *audio* can become confused when reporting an article which has now spread to other outlets. If it truly is video or film as this first article suggested, then people in the inner and outer Beatles universe have either been blissfully unaware of such a film thanks to a well-guarded secret, or they've been snookered.

« Last Edit: June 13, 2020, 06:28:16 PM by guitarfool2002 » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2020, 04:44:22 AM »

My understanding is that when the guy turned up with master reels from the shut down vol 2 album, they bought the tapes from him- which suggests that they understood that the tape now legally belonged to him
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2020, 04:49:59 AM »

Something something record store owner who sold the Durrie Parks acetates to a private collector, both of whom are on my list of enemies
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2020, 05:26:57 AM »

This is the first I've heard of this, but is there any suggestion this might be a hoax? How likely is it that an audition tape in 1962 would have survived to the next day, never mind long enough for it to become apparent that it might be worth something one day? And why, after all that, would Geoff Emerick lock it away and never mention it?
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2020, 07:51:03 AM »


First, and foremost: The article clearly states VIDEO and cites people who have seen it. Quite literally, my reaction was WTF? Unless this was done and missed for almost 60 years by Beatles experts and everyone else including the band themselves, is this just a glaring king-size error in reporting to say video instead of audio? Why would EMI film an unknown band? I have to think it is *audio* of that first session. All the evidence points to it being only audio. But then again, who knew Geoff Emerick rescued such a tape from the trash for all those years? I have to think the Anthology producers including the other Beatles didn't know he had it, unless it was a well-guarded secret that stayed a secret among the true inner circle (including Neil Aspinall). Thoughts?

If there's video, it could be from the "Get Back" era, as they've played "Love Me Do" during those sessions.
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2020, 08:06:38 AM »

I donít know, but if they exist, I hope one day the GV master tapes are found, so we can have a fully authentic stereo mix.
Also, the reels for Soulful Old Man Sunshine
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guitarfool2002
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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2020, 10:11:21 AM »

I am just amazed by the reporting on this so far, in terms of published reports going back to the first article reporting this which I linked in the first post. To suggest it's sloppy, incomplete, confusing, etc would be charitable. I absolutely cannot see how this would be a video (film, obviously since it was June 1962) yet it's even stated that people have seen it. Is there truly this much confusion on such an issue? Just to confirm, there are no known photos of this session at all unless the band took snapshots which are lost to time (I doubt that...), and the first known photos of them inside an Abbey Road studio were taken just after Ringo joined and George was sporting a black eye. So unless my mind will be blown, I'm saying there is no video/film. All historical signs point to a reel of tape.

Some comments around the web are suggesting things about Geoff Emerick which are not accurate, so just to confirm and repeat what was in my first post, Geoff was indeed at that very first "audition" session at age 17 when he had just started an apprenticeship at Abbey Road, and by twists of cosmic fate he was there apprenticing the day The Beatles walked in to audition. He talks about it in his book. If some accounts are suggesting Geoff wasn't there, hence the whole tape story doesn't jive, they're not right.

To explore some of the how's and why's of this tape, consider Geoff was a young man when The Beatles walked in. He was more of their audience than either George Martin or Norman "Hurricane" Smith, even though Geoff's tastes ran more to classical music. But he has said before he connected with the young guys from Liverpool and their music, perhaps more than his superiors at EMI. He liked their music - Would that suggest if a superior told him to throw out a tape which had their music on it, and he liked their music, that he may be inclined to keep that tape for his own enjoyment? No one knew what this band would become. They were just another group of young guys trying to score a deal to cut a record in June 1962.

That assumes Geoff had the tape in June 1962. What isn't told (yet, if ever) is *when* he took possession of this tape. It doesn't matter as much to get the timing of it, but it would explain how and why he did beyond him simply liking the music.

For the record, I do believe EMI asked him to dispose of it, and he instead took it home for his own use. Are people accusing Geoff of theft 58 years later aware that studios disposed of tape reels regularly? Even a young apprentice like Geoff in the UK studio system may have asked for reels the studio didn't need so he could take them home and reuse them for his own recordings. It happened.

The bugger for EMI is that now, well after the value of such a tape increased into the millions, EMI wants it back after they originally thought it had no value and ordered it thrown out. The argument they may try to put forth is they ordered it destroyed, versus thrown out, and Geoff didn't follow orders. But even that, to me, doesn't hold a lot of weight because their original intent was the tapes had no value and were to be disposed of. It would be like any business telling an employee to throw items in the dumpster which they deemed to be unneeded at the time, the employee came back later and grabbed them out of the dumpster, and 60 years later those same items turned out to be highly desired collectible furniture or whatever...that company cannot come back and try to reclaim ownership. They discarded the items.

I don't know, I'm just rambling. A case like this has so many implications for what a lot of us do and have been doing for decades now regarding enjoying and collecting rare and unreleased material. I know engineers personally as friends who have - ahem - "recordings" that came to them in a similar way, as part of their job. Recordings from artists who are both famous and no longer with us...which fans of the artists would want to hear. It happens. It's happened for decades going back to the big-band era. Look at that batch of pristine Elvis outtakes that came from one of the engineers who ran a "journal reel" and kept it just like Geoff Emerick kept this Beatles tape.

Heck, for that matter, look at another Beatles example that is one of the more fabled finds in Beatle-Land. That Capitol exec who took home a sealed case of factory-fresh "Butcher Cover" first state albums. That box remained in his closet for decades, untouched by sunlight or other elements, until his death when the family found and opened it. Literally a factory mint condition case of Butcher Covers, one of the most coveted of all Beatles album collectibles.

And he took it in 1966 knowing full well the company ordered these to be destroyed or returned to be pasted over. The family auctioned some off, if I recall, and it affected the valuation of these albums across the collector world now that a new "Holy Grail" example hit the market. So did EMI or Capitol or even Apple try to stake a claim to those since that exec had a situation almost exactly similar to what Emerick's family now has to fight in a court of law? The copies were ordered to be destroyed, the exec instead took a sealed case home with him and the value increased by tens of thousands as the decades passed.

Beyond all that, how about the issue of Anthology? How was this missed when the Beatle vaults were literally scraped bare trying to find everything worth including? I believe the survivor that made it to Anthology came from a tape George Martin had saved from that Pete Best audition session! So how is Geoff's tape any different after 58 years? And Geoff kept a very, very good secret if no one knew the more complete tape existed in Geoff's safe.

Bypassing the legalities, I'm thinking Geoff knew this could be an insurance policy upon his passing, for his family. When he passed away, they could sell the tape and be set financially just like any insurance policy would pay out. I think that's what we're seeing now. And I don't know how EMI can stake a claim with evidence beyond reproach that Geoff was somehow negligent in his duties in 1962 and therefore the tape he held all these years now has to go back to EMI. There is just no way to prove what someone told or didn't tell Geoff back in 1962, and EMI has the burden of proof in this case to take possession from the Emerick family. Unless they play dirty...
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« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2020, 05:18:14 PM »

Lucky Beatles fans.  So, when's it our turn?  Who's got the tape for the Surf Up Part 2 instrumental track?
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« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2020, 08:57:53 AM »

Lucky Beatles fans.  So, when's it our turn?  Who's got the tape for the Surf Up Part 2 instrumental track?
LOL I think it's safe to say the BB fans got far more interesting releases (bootleg and official) over the years and will continue to do so and I say that as a die-hard Beatles fan.  What do Beatles fans hope to get now?  Carnival of Light?  An alternate take of various songs?  But I know you mean they are lucky they may have found a lost session master tape and the BB still have various tapes missing including the GV vocals.  Still it's only with Pete Best and while historically interesting - I'm not excited about it.  The Anthology tracks are enough for me.  Finding that early Love Me Do from June 1962 was definitely interesting.  Hearing Pete's approach in the bridge really let you hear the difference in his playing.  I want to hear the original slower Please Please Me session.
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« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2020, 03:50:58 PM »

For 100% certain, vast amounts of info in these recent reports are wrong. First and foremost, they are surely talking about audio tape, not any video/film.

More importantly, I don't think anyone has been able to confirm what is on this tape.

It's interesting that there *have* been rumors for years that the *full* four-song EMI audition tape was/is in the hands of someone somewhere.

What makes no sense is that Emerick wouldn't offer the tape during the "Anthology." Apple was paying a number of parties in the 90s for old tapes, including stuff they never even went on to release. Was Emerick worried it would reflect badly on him if he all of a sudden showed up with the tape? I dunno, George Martin did the very same thing with Song #2 from the audition, finding an acetate of "Love Me Do" in some old cupboard. Was Martin paid, or did he ask? Was Emerick worried he wouldn't be paid for the tape? He was already being well-paid working on the "Anthology" archival sessions, *and* the Jeff Lynne-produced "Threetles" sessions, *and* was still engineering Paul solo sessions as well. Did he need that extra money?

That's not to say Emerick never allegedly engaged in some shenanigans. He did the whole "Sessions" album under EMI's direction in the 80s without telling McCartney, *while* he was also engineering Paul's solo sessions. But presumably they all found out about that later (and "Sessions" got scrubbed), and they kept working with Emerick.

To reiterate, nobody yet has confirmed anything about the nature of the tape. It could be some songs from the audition but not all. It could be something totally different.

While there could well be mitigating circumstances, I would say if this *is* the full tape and Emerick sat on it and never mentioned it, it doesn't exact enhance his legacy.

As for whether Universal can assert ownership, I think that case could well be interesting and not clear cut. What documentation exists regarding orders to destroy that particular tape? It's possible the family can assert physical ownership of the tape, but not be able to *do* anything with it.
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« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2020, 11:40:45 AM »

I think one of the possible legal issues may be the fact that person A can legally own a tape, but person(s) B would own the rights to what is actually on the tape. To be honest, I'm kind of surprised that we're all talking legal semantics considering the historical significance of the tape. This is, simply put, a monumental discovery for Beatles fans everywhere.
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