The Beatles’ Earliest Known U.K. Concert Recording Is Unearthed – Billboard
Written by GRB on 06/04/2023
A 60-year-old recording of the Beatles, said to be the earliest full taping of the Fab Four on home soil, has come to light.
The gig took place on April 4, 1963 when the-then rising band performed at the school’s theater.
Teenager John Bloomfield, a boarder at Stowe in Buckinghamshire, tested out his new reel-to-reel tape recorder at the show. The result, revealed on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, opens with “I Saw Her Standing There,” then segues into Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business.”
The recording “captures the appeal of The Beatles’ tightly-honed live act,” according to the Corporation, “with a mixture of their club repertoire of R&B covers and the start of the Lennon/McCartney songwriting partnership, with tracks off their debut album Please Please Me, which had been released barely two weeks earlier, on 22 March.”
Speaking about the find, Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn comments, “The opportunity that this tape presents, which is completely out of the blue, is fantastic because we hear them just on the cusp of the breakthrough into complete world fame. And at that point, all audience recordings become blanketed in screams.”
He adds, “So here is an opportunity to hear them in the U.K., in an environment where they could be heard and where the tape actually does capture them properly, at a time when they can have banter with the audience as well.”
The mic picks up the mostly-male audience shouting out requests and, crucially, the BBC adds, the recording isn’t drowned out by screaming, a hallmark of “Beatlemania.”
Bloomfield, who kept the recording safe through the years, but hadn’t revealed its existence until now, is now 70.
“I think it’s an incredibly important recording,” adds Lewisohn, “and I hope something good and constructive and creative eventually happens to it.”
Though the Beatles officially split in 1970, the year of the release of Let It Be, their twelfth and final studio album, the legend, and the myth continues to grow.
A Danny Boyle-helmed film based on the band’s music, Yesterday, was released in June 2019; recent reissues of the Beatles’ catalog have topped sales charts around the globe; and Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson invited fans inside for previously-unseen final recording sessions, and the band’s legendary performance atop the Apple Corps headquarters in London, for an exhaustive three-part documentary series, Get Back, which dropped in late 2021 on Disney+.
Read more on “The Beatles at Stowe School” here.