The very first vinyl record to be issued by The Beatles in Canada was released on or close to Monday, April 23rd, 1962 ... that was fifty years and a half a century ago this month. A real time of celebration for all Beatles fans in Canada and elsewhere !
The story of The Beatles from their earliest beginnings has been well documented and today we cannot separate the original artifacts from The Beatles Story, as both are now intertwined. Their very first record and its story are now fifty years old and this is the story of the first Beatles record to be issued in Canada. The record did not sell AT ALL upon it's release in Canada in April 1962 and it has now become a holy grail for Beatles collectors.
Cast your mind back to a cool early spring evening in the middle of the week after Easter Monday April 16th, 1962. A worker at the Compo record pressing plant in Lachine, Québec was listening to the shift supervisor go over the list of items for that evening's production shift. The metal masters sat ready waiting to be used with the warm liquid vinyl to create new batches of 45 RPM records for that week's new releases for the Decca label. The metal masters for the week's new Canadian Decca label pressings had arrived from the Decca USA parent company earlier that week. The round black Decca paper labels with silver print had also been printed and were in a separate bundle with each master.
Some of the new Decca 45 RPM releases that month included:￼￼
Decca 31379 Brenda Lee - Here Comes That Feelin' / Everybody Loves Me But You (April 16 1962)
Decca 31380 Webb Pierce - Take Time / Crazy Wild Desire
Decca 31381 Grady Martin - Twist And Turn / Good Good Good
Decca 31382 Tony Sheridan And The Beat Brothers - My Bonnie / The Saints (April 23 1962)
Decca 31383 Kip Walton - La Plume De Ma Tante-Cha Cha / Mi Guantanamera
Decca 31384 Loretta Lynn - Success / A Hundred Proof Heartache
Decca 31385 Eloise Trio - Calypso Twist/Mama Look A Boo Boo Twist
The labels to be used had been prepared with the following information printed on them:￼￼
That same evening, approximately 200 copies of Decca 31382 were duly pressed up with the black and silver paper labels. Once the batch was completed, each disc was then inserted inside a brown paper stock Decca/Compo 45 RPM record sleeve. These stock sleeves had been stamped with blue ink with the block text " SAMPLE COPY NOT FOR SALE".
These 200 records would then have been sent out on Monday, April 23rd, 1962 for distribution to the various radio stations across Canada as a new release. Usually such promotional records would be accompanied by a small sheet of paper from the issuing company such as Compo/Decca that would mention something notable about the artist and perhaps a line or two about the record itself. Each radio station from coast to coast that received the sample disc would determine the category the new disc would fall under... examples being Pop, Country & Western, Personality, Comedy, Orchestra, Male Vocal, Female Vocal. The record librarian would note that it was a new release and determine where it could or could not fit on the station's roster of programming. The record librarian would normally have attached a catalogue sticker to the record's label to allow the record to be filed and re-filed.
By all accounts, no radio station in Canada at the time of release determined that the record was worthy of broadcast which would have resulted in a new listing on the station's weekly chart. Without this push from any of the radio stations, and without any other form of print or television advertising, the record sank without trace without even one chart listing or newspaper mention in Canada. There are also indications that most of the sample copies of the Tony Sheridan 45 were in fact disposed of and these copies may have been recycled into newer vinyl records by different artists.
The irony of having this 45 released on the Decca label in Canada was that The Beatles had failed the Decca (UK) recording audition test just a few months earlier on New Year's Day January 1st, 1962.
Of course, Canadian (and US) Decca had not been associated with British Decca since World War Two. In October, 1962, Decca would become basically a name; that was when they were purchased by MCA. Since US Decca had owned Compo since 1951, Compo became part of MCA, eventually (1970) changing their name. (Source: Frank Daniels)
Another interesting fact is that the Decca 45 was issued in Canada just a few weeks before Brian Epstein had his initial meeting with EMI producer George Martin in London on Wednesday, May 9th, 1962. George Martin would take The Beatles into the charts.
Lastly, original Beatle Stu Sutcliffe had died tragically on April 10, 1962, less than two weeks before the Decca record was released in Canada.
So you can see that the record was issued at a very interesting time in the Beatles development.
The title song My Bonnie was written circa 1881 by Charles E. Pratt and “was first recorded as a rock ‘n’ roll song by Ray Charles in 1958,” and “This New Orleans parade song probably dates from the late 19th century… Bill Haley And His Comets recorded it, and it was later recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino, among others.” as stated in "The Beatles with Tony Sheridan - Beatles Bop—Hamburg Days" by Hans-Olof Gottfridsson.
Tony Sheridan hailed from Norwich, Norfolk and found his way to the famous "Two I's" coffee bar on Old Compton Street in London's Soho district in the late 1950s. He had the moody good looks of the time and was by all accounts was a brilliant guitarist. But in performance, Sheridan quickly developed a reputation for being unreliable and inconsistent. By June 1960, Sheridan was 21 and with his backing group The Jets had accepted an offer to play rock and roll in the roughest part of Hamburg... the Reeperbahn area was a police-patrolled home for sailors and prostitutes. Now here was a true rock and roll pioneer. When The Beatles found themselves playing in Hamburg just a few months later, they saw Sheridan as somewhat of a role model as he was so popular. In fact, George Harrison has stated that he learned much of his own craft by carefully watching Tony Sheridan's playing in their early days in Hamburg.
The five Beatles started out at the bottom-rung clubs in Hamburg but quickly became good friends with the charismatic Englishman Sheridan whose real name was Anthony McGinnity ! Singer Sheridan would later joke that his father was from West Derby and that made him an "automatic Scouser" and that is perhaps why he got on so well with The Beatles in their early days. All five Beatles were backing Sheridan at The Top Ten Club during their second stint in Hamburg in the spring of 1961 when Polydor producer Bert Kaempfert dropped by with his friend Alrfed Schacht to check out Tony Sheridan and his backing group. One version of events holds that German pop singer Tommy Kent had recommended Sheridan and The Beatles to Kaempfert. Either way, producer Bert Kaempfert had final say on The Beatles as the backing group for Tony Sheridan and he recorded all of them at Friedrich Ebert Halle in Harburg ( a Hamburg suburb) beginning on the morning of Thursday, June 22nd, 1961 and continuing again on Friday, June 23rd, 1961. The recording engineer for these sessions was Karl Hinze.
One good reason for the switch of the group name "The Beatles" to "The Beat Brothers" was that the German pronunciation of "Beatles" sounded too much like "Peedles" which was then popular German slang for "penis". Nuff said. For the recording session, the newly named Beat Brothers consisted of Pete Best (drums), George Harrison (lead guitar), Paul McCartney (bass), and John Lennon (rhythm guitar). Stu Sutcliffe was the bass player for The Beatles at this time (although he left the group in early July 1961) but he did not play at the Polydor recording session and was instead replaced by Paul McCartney on bass. The movie "Back Beat' from 1994 is a good film recreation of the period in which Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe were themselves Beatles.
The My Bonnie single was quite popular in Germany at the time it was issued by German Polydor in 1961. Original German copies featured a picture cover showing singer Tony Sheridan... but alas no picture of the backing Beat Brothers.
At the very same time that this record was being pressed and issued by Compo in Canada, The Beatles were back in Hamburg.
According to Mark Lewisohn's magnum opus book "The Beatles Chronicles", The Beatles were playing a residency at The Star Club in Hamburg, Germany from Friday, April 13th, 1962 through Thursday, May 31st, 1962. Upon arrival in Hamburg for this residency, The Beatles were told of Stu Sutcliffe's death... he had died just a few days earlier on April 10th, 1962. At this time, The Beatles were being managed by Brian Epstein who had negotiated the opening Star Club dates with Star Club owner Manfred Weissleder. Epstein had taken on the role of Beatles manager in December 1961.
The Star Club opened on Friday, April 13th, 1962 and many bright red posters were plastered around the streets of Hamburg for the launch of this new club highlighted the artists that would be performing there over the next few weeks under the banner of ROCK N' TWIST-PARADE 1962. The artists included The Beatles, Tex Roberg, Roy Young, The Graduates, The Bachelors, Tony Sheridan Quartet, and Gerry And The Pacemakers. The posters boldly declared in German "Die Not hat ein Ende ! Die Zeit Der Dorfmusik ist vorbei !" ... in English this meant "The misery is ending! The era of village music is over!￼
In his Chronicles book, Mark Lewisohn also states that The Beatles may have completed a second recording session for Polydor producer Bert Kaempfert during the week of Monday, April 23rd, 1962 through Friday, April 27th, 1962 but there are no official records of these recording dates to go by. If the Beatles did not record for Polydor in April 1962, they did enter the studio on May 24, 1962 to play the backing track for "Sweet Georgia Brown." Sheridan recorded the first set of vocals by himself on June 7th, 1962. (Source: Frank Daniels). There can be little doubt that The Beatles themselves did not know that the Tony Sheridan And The Beat Brothers 45 they had recorded almost one year before would see a release in the USA and Canada on the Decca label.
Quite simply, the collector's value of the original April 1962 disc is based on the fact that so few copies have survived to this day. There are only 5 or 6 copies of this record known to exist.
Original copies can be identified by the stamping marks in the run-out areas on either side of the vinyl disc. As stated above, the original 1962 Canadian Decca 45 was pressed from metal masters sent up from the U.S. Matrix numbers are machine-stamped into the vinyl (using the same matrix numbers that are printed on the Decca label). Machine-stamped matrix numbers on run-out area of A-side is “DGG-66833 A4” and machine-stamped matrix number on run-out area of the B-side is “DGG-24673 (backwards B)4”.
Counterfeits do exist so it is best to consult an expert if you are thinking of buying one of these original pressings and want to be sure that it is indeed an April 1962 Canadian copy.<1p>
As The Beatles began to crack the American market in early 1964, and even before their appearances on Ed Sullivan in February 1964, MGM Records entered into a 5-year leasing agreement with Deutsche Grammophon, the German company that owned the rights to the 1962 Polydor recordings with Tony Sheridan. The ink was not even dry on this agreement when both sides of the 1962 Decca single were re-issued by MGM in both the USA and Canada. This time the My Bonnie single was pressed in the thousands. The MGM single was pressed by Quality Records of Canada in Toronto and this time the record was credited to "The Beatles With Tony Sheridan". This new MGM single was issued in Canada on, or within a few days of, Wednesday, January 27th, 1964. The MGM recording lacks the slow introduction in English that is found on the original Decca release.￼
There were no known pictures taken of the vocalist and his backup band at the Polydor recording session in June of 1961, however, the three black and white photos below were taken shortly after.￼ ￼
In the world before The Beatles and of course the Internet, radio was "king" for new music. Television was still a new medium with few shows dedicated purely to pop music. In Canada in 1962, the CBC operated 39 affiliate radio stations and 14 affiliate TV stations. At the same time, there were 242 privately owned and run radio stations and 39 privately owned and run TV stations. CHUM in Toronto was one of Canada's largest "pop" radio stations serving the predominantly English market of Toronto. CHUM had moved to a "rock and roll" format in 1957 and began to publish weekly pop charts.
The CHUM Toronto Chart for the week of April 23, 1963 featured American singer Ernie Maresca at number 1 with "Shout, Shout, Knock Yourself Out". The top 10 for that week included singles by two British acts .. Cliff Richard and Acker Bilk. The chart for this particular week was a good example of the period between the first wave of rock and roll pioneers of the 1950s and the arrival of The Beatles at the end of 1963. There were songs by Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Brenda Lee, Bobby Vee, Paul Anka etc. Tory John Diefenbaker was the Prime Minister of Canada and North America was under a constant threat of nuclear war with Russia as Kennedy and Kruschev faced off.
The clarinet instrumental Stranger On The Shore was a huge seller worldwide while Cliff's subsequent hits Bachelor Boy and Summer Holiday were released as singles by Capitol Records Of Canada in early 1963 just around the same time that Capitol's British-born A&R (Artists and Repertoire) Manager was issuing the first two or three Capitol 45 RPM singles by The Beatles.￼
In fact, Paul White would be the first record executive in North America to release a record under the proper name of The Beatles in early 1963... Love Me Do on the Canadian Capitol label (catalogue number 72076). According to Paul "It sold about 140 copies after 6 months". USA Capitol's Dave Dexter refused to issue that 45 in the USA. Canada led the way for Capitol's Beatles output in the 1960s. Nuff said. The honour of being the first person to play a Beatles record on a radio station in North America falls to the late Ray Sonin of radio station CFRB in Toronto. Ray played a British Parlophone copy of Love Me Do on his weekly Saturday afternoon show "Calling All Britons" in late 1962.
John King (Toronto Star) recalls his weekly routine as a newspaper carrier for the Ottawa Citizen daily newspaper in the early nineteen sixties. “Every Saturday morning I would ride my bike from my home in Alta Vista to Billings Bridge Plaza to drop off the Citizen collection money at the “shack”. I would continue on my bike down Bank Street to spend some time and carrier earnings downtown. The Zellers department store at the corner of O’Connor Street and Queen Street had a “record bar” and this was a favourite place to purchase a 45. I vividly recall purchasing an orange swirl Capitol copy of “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back” at Zellers in April 1962.” Now that Charlie Drake 45 was issued on the same orange and yellow Capitol swirl label that would be used for the Love Me Do 45 in Canada almost a year later.
Bert Kaempfert would go on to arrange Strangers In The Night for Frank Sinatra and Spanish Eyes for Al Martino. Pete Best carried on after being expelled from The Beatles on August 16th, 1962. Although Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr, Pete's drumming on My Bonnie is still pretty damn great and typifies the real Mersey Beat of 1961 and 1962.
Paul White of Capitol Records Of Canada would decide to release all of the Beatles 1963 Parlophone singles on the Capitol label in Canada during 1963. As such he was a true pioneer for The Beatles in North America.
Tony Sheridan... continues to reside in a village just north of Hamburg in Germany and performed My Bonnie at an outdoor concert last year (2011) in Liverpool. He has maintained a scholarly interest in coats of arms.
Sir Paul McCartney... has just released a new album called "Kisses On The Bottom"... and will headline the Diamond Jubilee concert for Queen Elizabeth.
Pete Best... The Pete Best Band is one of the few true Mersey Beat bands performing today and will perform in Liverpool on August 25th, 2012 along with the Roy Young Band. He is still a great drummer and will always be able to proudly say that he was the "Best of The Beatles" !
The Canadian Decca record... an original April 1962 Canadian Decca My Bonnie vinyl 45 sold on Saturday, February 25th, 2012 to one lucky Beatles collector for $2,999.99 US.
And the beat will go on...
The album consisted of eight songs from the British Parlophone Lp release of the soundtrack to the film "A Hard Day's Night" (PMC 1230, July 1964). In addition there were two songs from the British Parlophone Ep "Long Tall Sally" (GEP 8913, June 1964) and one odd track which was the German version of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" called "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand". As with the previous three Capitol Of Canada "6000 Series" Beatles albums issued between November 1963 and May 1964, the Something New album was only issued in Canada in mono in the summer of 1964.
The track listing below (taken from the back of the 1964 Canadian mono Lp) shows that only two songs of the eleven included on the album were not written by The Beatles and these were the two tracks from the UK Long Tall Sally Ep ... Slow Down and Matchbox.
This 45 was issued in the USA on the Specialty label as Specialty 626. The A side was Slow Down and the B-side was Dizzy Miss Lizzy ( a song that was covered the following year on the Beatles VI album). In Canada the 45 was issued in February / March 1958 on the Regency label (Regency 720X) , the same label that had issued Little Richard's opus Long Tall Sally. CHUM 1050 Toronto charted the disc for 2 weeks in March 1958 and it peaked at number 40 (Source: Ron Hall).￼ ￼￼
Matchbox was the A-side of a 45 issued in the USA as Sun 261 on February 11th., 1957. The B-side was a track called "Your True Love". In Canada the same 45 was issued by Quality Records using catalogue number K1599. The Quality 45 would lag the USA release by a few weeks.￼ ￼ ￼
Note that there were no chart entries in Canada for this record in early 1957. Toronto's CHUM charts did not start until May 27th., 1957 (Source: Ron Hall).
At the Toronto Rock And Roll Revival Concert held at Varsity Stadium on Saturday, September 13th., 1969, John and Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band opened their Toronto set list with "Blue Suede Shoes", a real tribute to Carl Perkins (who had issued that 45 in Canada in April 1956 as Quality K1473).
Of course, John was still a Beatles at the time he played the song live ... and Blue Suede Shoes opens the Live Peace In Toronto LP.
Note - I was lucky enough to see Carl Perkins play guitar as back up to Johnny Cash when they played together at the Ottawa Exhibition in 1970. They played two nights (Monday, August 24th., 1970 and Tuesday, August 25th., 1970) at the Grandstand at Lansdowne Park under the bill "Johnny Cash with June Carter, the Carter Family, The Statler Brothers, The Tennessee Three and Carl Perkins". Phew .. Carl Perkins was listed last on that bill ... Rock On Carl !
Félicitations et / and Congratulations to Gilles Pépin of Québec City who has solved the mystery of the Beatlemanic Sticker ! Gilles emailed the solution to the mystery on March 12th, 2012 by stating that he found the page with the "Beatlemanic" Sticker in (the) Beatle Fun Kit magazine at page 29." Well done Gilles and "merci bien" for solving this mystery !
Believe it or not, just a few hours later on March 13th. I received an email from Andrew Croft of Toronto who provided the same scans of page 28 and 29 of the "Beatle Fun Kit" magazine from 1964.
Gilles has already claimed his prize and there will be a second prize awarded to Andrew as well.
So the mystery has been solved. The "Beatlemanic Stickers" were indeed paper cut-outs and here are pages 28 and 29 along with the front cover of the issue. Way back in 1964, this book er magazine cost the princely sum of $1.00 and was published in the USA by DIG.￼ ￼ ￼
And here below is the all important text from page 28 of that cool Beatles fan magazine from way back in 1964:
"BEATLE PLATTER STICKERS ! RECORD-BREAKING WAY TO BRIGHTEN UP YOUR COLLECTION !
Now you can stop Beatle-platter prowlers dead in their tracks ! Label your records with your own special Beatle-platter stickers. These stickers are designed to fit right over the label in the center of the record. Just clip them out, tape them right on. Guaranteed protection for your Beatle collection."
And many thanks once again to Gilles Pepin and Andrew Croft !￼
Michael S. Fishberg of London, England writes the following:
"I purchased the album stickers at a Hallmark Card shop in downtown San Francisco in the summer of 1966 when I was travelling around the USA with my friend Graham. The stickers were sold in a sealed package and each sticker inside was pre-gummed on the back. So basically, you licked the back of the sticker and pasted it onto the back of your album cover."
So for that mystery solved ... many thanks Michael. A special prize will also be awarded to Michael.
So we have identified two sets of record stickers from the 1960s and both of these were intended to protect the owner of the record from unwanted "platter-prowlers". Very cool !
The Beatlemanic 45 stickers issued in 1964 had to be taped on but in some of the examples I have come across over the years they were glued on. The Lp stickers from 1966 were gummed so they could simply be licked and then stick on. Thanks again to all who helped solve these mysteries from 1964 and 1966 !
March 15, 2012
Over the years, I have come across records in my travels that have some strange labels attached to them. These stickers were used to name and identify the owner of the record. These stand out for me because in 99% of cases the owner usually wrote their name on the back or front cover of the album jacket in the case of an LP or on the actual record label in the case of a 45. The stickers discussed here are fairly rare and I have been meaning to write a short article in praise of them for some time.
Like many Beatles fans of my age, I started collecting Beatles records in 1965 or so. I did not buy too many singles as I could hear those on the radio, but I started collecting their albums as they came out... as soon as I could. Really this period covered the Capitol albums Something New, Beatles VI, Help, Rubber Soul, Yesterday And Today, Revolver, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine and Very Together (oops… Polydor !). I never thought that I needed to write my name on each album or album cover and those original 1960s albums are still with me. Perhaps it was that I chose not to lend my albums or that I had no younger siblings... in any event I was not even aware that you could buy special stickers to stick on your records to signify ownership. This was a phenomena I discovered much later.
To date I have come across two types of cool stickers used on records in the 1960s; album stickers and Beatles single stickers.
Some album stickers are fairly generic in that they only state the album owner's name. The two colour stickers seen on the back covers of the albums below clearly indicate that "THIS ALBUM PROPERTY OF:" and interestingly they have been found on Lps in both England and Canada.
1. The Yardbirds UK mono LP - Columbia SX 6063 (UK, 1966)
Affixed by a record buyer in London, England (Michael Fishberg, 1966).
2. Crispian St. Peters "The Pied Piper" LP - Canadian mono LL.3488 (1966)
Affixed by a record buyer in Willowdale (suburb of Toronto), Ontario, Canada (Gaye Wadham, 1966).
The above stickers were large colourful rectangular affairs featuring a mod 1960s musician design and were very similar in purpose to the "Ex Libris" stickers used by book collectors that were affixed to the inside page of a book.
The more interesting stickers I have come across are Beatles specific and identify the fact that the original owner of the record was indeed a "Beatlemanic"… and not to be confused with a "Beatlemaniac"
These cool coloured semi-circular paper stickers were most probably included in a Beatles fan magazine that appeared in a March 1964 or slightly late issue. I am guessing right now that the magazine was from Britain or the USA, but more information would be very much appreciated. Beatles fans in 1964 carefully cut these stickers out of the magazine using scissors (hopefully !) and then glued them to the label of one of their Beatles 45 RPM records. I have yet to see one of these stickers applied to a Beatles album ! Possible sources of the Beatlemanic stickers would include the fan magazines that were being published in early to mid 1964. These would include:
UK - RAVE (monthly) - RAVE number 1 was published in February 1964 (one issue is possibly number 4 from May 1964)
UK - FABULOUS (weekly)
USA - "16" (monthly) (Note - The Beatles first appeared on the cover of 16 in the May 1964 issue)
At the height of Beatlemania (February through August 1964), a number of one-off fan magazines appeared on magazine racks across North America. These usually included pin-up photos that fans could put up in their bedrooms.
Now which one of these magazines might have the special cut-out Beatlemanic stickers inside ? I also remember that Beatles fans cut up many of these magazines to use the cool pictures in their very own Beatles scrapbooks (that is another great aspect of Beatlemania).
Most of the records I have come across with these labels attached were for records issued in the early months of 1964 when Beatlemania was at its zenith.
The following records have been located with these stickers attached to them:
England - Parlophone GEP 8891 - All My Loving Ep WPS (see the purple / pink sticker in the image above right)Canada - Capitol 72144 - All My Loving / This Boy (see the yellow sticker in the image above left) USA - Vee Jay VJ 587 - Do You Want To Know A Secret ? / Thank You Girl (see image below) ￼
The stickers were a great way for Beatles fans to affix their names to their own Beatles records. They also were meant to indicate to anyone going near the record that the owner of the record was a completely besotted Beatles fan. I am not sure that I would have applied these stickers to my own Beatles records during the mid 1960s… perhaps then I was NOT a true Beatlemanic???
To date I have only come across two colours: purple / pink and yellow.
Well the answer to that question is "probably yes". In most cases I have see, the record sells for less than un-labelled copies.
No and I would not bother... as removing them will result in some sort of attempt at revisionist history.
And besides, they are very cool.
The stickers are very interesting from a sociolgical and anthropological perpsective as they often help to identify who originally bought the record and where they lived at the time the record was originally purchased. The album stickers appear to have originated sometime during 1966 while the Beatlemanic 45 stickers are most certainly from the heady days of Beatlemania in early 1964. I would also want to assume that these stickers were used by the more affluent record buyers of the day !
If you know which 1964 magazine the stickers originated from and can send a scan of same, you will receive a special BEATLEMANIC prize! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to claim it ! My own very best guess would be one of the special Beatles Fan magazines produced at the height of Beatlemania in 1964... but which one ? This may take a year or so to solve but the prize will be held for the winner for as long as it takes ! But maybe the answer is indeed very simple and we will hear the answer "any time at all".
So perhaps dig out your old magzines and solve this mystery for us ? The answer is out there !
The contest winner will have a choice of:
1. An original hardcover copy of the EMI 50 Years book from 1999 (with original dust jacket).
2. LP A Hard Day's Night - rare blue United Artists (Compo) label 1964 LP.
3. Capitol 72101 - From Me To You - original swirl 45.
NOTE - special thanks to unknown contributors Michael Fishberg, Gaye Wadham, Marion Palmer, Carolyn (initials CJC) and Roman (?) Reid. Thanks also to The Beatles Virtual Museum for some of the cool magazine images (http://beatlesite.blogspot.com/).