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Early Beatles audition tape going on the auction block

By Phil Han, CNN
updated 12:53 PM EST, Sat November 24, 2012
An early portrait of the British rock group The Beatles. Left to right: Paul McCartney, Pete Best, George Harrison (1943 - 2001) and John Lennon (1940 - 1980). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
An early portrait of the British rock group The Beatles. Left to right: Paul McCartney, Pete Best, George Harrison (1943 - 2001) and John Lennon (1940 - 1980). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • The Beatles recorded an audition tape for Decca on New Year's Day 1962
  • They performed covers of other bands' songs
  • Decca rejected the quartet, but EMI Records took a chance on them

London (CNN) -- They were four completely unknown men living in Liverpool in 1962.

Ordinary 20-something-year-olds who had formed what seemed to be a very ordinary rock band.

Their names were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best -- they called themselves "The Beatles."

On New Year's Day in 1962, with the help of their manager Brian Epstein, the band recorded an audition tape at London's Decca Studios. They included a collection of cover songs with titles such as "Money," "Crying, Waiting, Hoping," and "Searchin'."

CNN has not been able to verify the authenticity of the audiotape.

The band hoped this audition tape would propel them into a record deal and give them the fame they so desperately wanted.

Unfortunately for them, they were rejected by the record label.

It turned out to be one of the worst decisions in music history.

The Beatles were quickly snatched up by EMI Records and -- after drummer Ringo Starr replaced Best -- the rest, as they say, is history.

Fifty years later, that very audition tape is being put up for auction in London.

"The tape is pretty unique because it captures a moment in history," Ted Owen of auctioneers Fame Bureau told CNN.

"The quality is like sitting in a cinema with headphones on. It's absolutely brilliant. That's the most amazing part, the quality," he said.

This is the first time the audition tape has come out in public.

Since early 2002, the tape was in the possession of an American, but now it could be yours if you're willing to pay.

The tape has a starting bid of $32,000, but Owen expects it to go for much more at the auction on Tuesday.

"Anyone who spends over £20,000 (more than $32,000) on it will be telling everyone on the planet that they own," he said.

"It's a trophy."

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