Beatles demo record to go up for auction in Britain

The demo vinyl record that persuaded music producer George Martin to sign up The Beatles -- a "unique" piece of British music history -- will be sold off next month, auctioneers said on Friday.

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"The unique 10-inch 78 RPM acetate record featuring 'Hello Little Girl' on one side and 'Till There Was You' on the other was pressed at the HMV record store on Oxford Street in London," said Omega Auctions, based in Warrington in northwest England.

It was pressed by the group's manager Brian Epstein to present to Martin at record label EMI "in his desperate attempt to get them a recording contract".

"This meeting, despite Martin's initial reticence, was to eventually lead to the breakthrough they were looking for," the auction house said in a statement.

It added that it expected the record to sell for at least £10,000 (US$14,000).

"Its uniqueness is enhanced by Brian Epstein's handwriting on the labels, and the recognition of what it led to -- making it one of the rarest and most collectable of all Beatles records," Mark Lewisohn, a Beatles historian, was quoted as saying.

Ian Shirley, from the Rare Records Price Guide, said the record was a "holy grail" for collectors.

Omega Auctions said it was hoping to put the vinyl on display at The Beatles Story museum in their hometown of Liverpool before the auction on March 22.

The record is currently owned by Les Maguire from the band Gerry and the Pacemakers. Maguire said he was given it by Epstein, who also managed his band, in 1963 and had kept it in his loft until now.


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