It was on this day, Nov. 23rd 1962, The Beatles traveled to St. James’ Church Hall, London, for a ten-minute audition with BBC Television. The audition came about when Beatles fan, David Smith of Preston, Lancashire wrote to the BBC asking for The Beatles to be featured on BBC television. A regular occurrence with local fans during this very early period for the band! Assuming that Smith was The Beatles’ manager, the BBC wrote back to him, offering The Beatles an audition. Smith brought his letter to NEMS Enterprises, and Clive Epstein (Brian’s brother) arranged for an audition to take place. Four days later, Brian Epstein received a polite “thumbs-down” letter from the BBC. Much to the dismay of Brian and his youthful charges. And it wouldn’t be an isolated incident!
However, there always comes a time when the student must compete with, and become, the master. It happened with Van Gogh and Millet, Beethoven and Mozart, Kobe and MJ, Darth Vader and Obi-Wan.
It happened with the Beatles on July 2nd, 1963, at London’s Maida Vale Studio, where the band were taping their fifth installment for the BBC of their Pop Goes the Beatles radio series. The Beatles were deep into their tenure as BBC regulars at this point. They would field requests mailed in from fans, blast through a raft of covers, some of which they’d never return to again, work in originals from their own burgeoning catalog, and joke with the presenter, and, of course, themselves. It was a band as human jukebox, capable of excelling in all styles, while also dishing out that particular brand of Beatle-y jocularity.
And, get this, in little more than three months from the group receiving their “Thumbs down letter from The BBC. THE Beatles began a string of appearances that would go unrivaled! Between March of 1963 and May of 1965, the Beatles cut 52 consecutive BBC sessions, with the vast majority occurring during 1963, the year of their ascent, when their first two LPs, and a brace of early career-defining singles – “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” chief among them – marked the band as entrants in a contest that had dated back to 1954, when Elvis released his first Sun sides, to determine the reigning gods of rock & roll.
Of course The best way to imagine how these important early recordings sounded is to of course, Listen! In 1962 The Beatles considered themselves an R and B band and their favorite R & B writer / artist was Arthur Alexander! Remember The Beatle’s “Anna, Go To Him” Arthur Alexander!
Here’s “Soldier Of Love” a very early Arthur Alexander song, performed brilliantly by The Early Beatles, on THE BBC.
For us the most interesting element of this LIVE recording is the absence of screaming fans! ( very early days)
And, there was still a certain stiff British discipline in place!