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The Role of Paul White

Paul White 1965

Letter from Paul White

(supplied by Bruce Spizer, owner of the Canadian Capitol Beatles «Butcher Cover»)

"From 1957 to 1978, I, Paul White, worked at Capitol records of Canada in various jobs, including as Marketing Manager and in the Artists and Repertoire department. I became a Vice President at the Canadian Company. In my A & R job I reviewed releases from EMI Records in England (owners of Capitol Records U.S.) for possible release in Canada. Pre Beatles I had great success with Cliff Richard product among other «Brit» stars.

In early 1963 I received a copy of the Beatles Single Love Me Do - I liked the group’s fresh new sound and released the single in February 1963 (Catalogue number 72076). I followed up with Please Please Me and From Me To You but sales on all three 45s were low and our Canadian President started to question the Beatles’ saleability. I persisted, and the next single She Loves You landed in every major Canadian radio chart, becoming a huge seller, and taking the previous three releases along with it, so all four hit the charts and justified my faith.

Since Capitol Canada began releasing records almost a year before Capitol America we had Beatles records not released in the States. Even during the first half of 1964 while Capitol Records America was releasing Beatles records the records released in both countries were completely different. When we had two singles charted in the U.S. trade paper BILLBOARD through import from American dealers things changed. Alan Livingston, then President of Capitol America sent a directive to Capitol Canada demanding that Capitol Canada release identical Beatle records as released in America, using the same artwork supplied by the Hollywood, California office. Incidentally, this also meant that Capitol Canada had to «retro-release» Beatles records using the American format (Beatlemania, With The Beatles material would also be used on a Canadian issue of Meet The Beatles, etc.).

So, from mid-1964 Capitol Canada conformed to the American format for releasing all Beatles records. In June, 1966 the Beatles album Yesterday & Today was scheduled for release in the U.S.A. and Canada. We received artwork and master tapes from Hollywood, California. The initial artwork depicted the Beatles in butcher smocks covered with decapitated baby dolls and raw pieces of meat. We began to manufacture LP covers for «mass distribution» when we received a call from Alan Livingston in Hollywood to tell us that Sir Joseph Lockwood, Chairman of EMI Records Worldwide had objected to the «Butcher» cover and had instructed that the cover be scrapped and replaced with a new cover in every country the album was scheduled for release. We therefore were told to cease production and destroy all jackets and covers of the «Butcher» album. As the person in charge of scheduling Beatle releases I always received first copies of jackets and covers to check for colour match and errors. I had two mono Butcher jackets and a stereo Butcher slick in my office, sent from the printers. I gave one mono jacket to someone in the office and kept the stereo slick and other mono jacket.

As head of A & R in Canada I was the person who discovered Anne Murray (in 1969) and in 1978 I left Capitol Canada to take an executive position with BALMUR Ltd., Anne’s management company.

For the last five years I have worked at BMG Music Canada as manager of catalogue product releases in the Strategic Marketing Division.

-- Paul White, 1997"

Postscript by Piers Hemmingsen, October 2000:

I did have the good fortune to meet with Paul White on November 11, 1999. In fact, I had lunch with Paul White and David MacMillan (EMI Music Canada) at the King Edward Hotel on King Street in Toronto - the very hotel that the Beatles used as their Toronto lodgings when they played their Maple Leaf Gardens concerts in the 1960s ! I was able to ask Paul many questions about his days at Capitol of Canada, and also to discuss the circumstances around which the Capitol 6000 series of Lps were developed - as well as some fascinating recollections about The Beatles. At the close of our meeting I provided Paul with a long lost copy of the Canadian Capitol one-sided promotional «songs plus interviews» LP that was issued in 1962 (with custom sleeve !) to promote Helen Shapiro’s early hits in Canada. Paul told me that his wife was a big fan of Helen Shapiro !

Paul White

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Piers A. Hemmingsen & Serge Pelletier. All Rights Reserved.