The Beatles' Decca audition

The Decca audition is the name given to the now-famous Beatles audition for Decca Records at their Decca Studios in West Hampstead, north London, England, before they reached international stardom.

Decca's decision to reject the group is considered to be one of the biggest mistakes in music history.

Manager Brian Epstein made numerous trips to London to visit record companies with the hope of securing a record contract, but was rejected by many, including Columbia, Pye, Philips, and Oriole. The Beatles were driven down to London by Neil Aspinall on New Year's Eve in 1961, for a Decca audition, but Aspinall lost his way, and the trip took ten hours. They arrived at 10 o'clock at night, and John Lennon said that they arrived "just in time to see the drunks jumping in the Trafalgar Square fountain." On 1 January 1962, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Pete Best were auditioned by Decca producer Tony Meehan (ex-drummer of the Shadows) performing a total of fifteen songs in just under one hour. All the material was selected by Epstein, who decided on a selection of covers that the band had performed in various clubs over the years, interspersed with three Lennon/McCartney originals. The Beatles later found out that Epstein had paid Meehan to produce the studio recordings.

Decca audition setlist:

1. "Like Dreamers Do" (Lennon/McCartney)
2. "Money (That's What I Want)" (Gordy/Bradford)
3. "Till There Was You" (Meredith Wilson)
4. "The Sheik of Araby" (Smith/Wheeler/Snyder)
5. "To Know Her Is to Love Her" (Phil Spector)
6. "Take Good Care of My Baby" (King/Goffin)
7. "Memphis, Tennessee" (Chuck Berry)
8. "Sure to Fall (In Love with You)" (Cantrell/Claunch/Perkins)
9. "Hello Little Girl" (Lennon/McCartney)
10. "Three Cool Cats" (Leiber/Stoller)
11. "Crying, Waiting, Hoping" (Buddy Holly)
12. "Love of the Loved" (Lennon/McCartney)
13. "September in the Rain" (Warren/Dubin)
14. "Bésame Mucho" (Consuelo Velázquez)
15. "Searchin'" (Leiber/Stoller)