This Day in 1961 – The Man Who Turned Down The Beatles

Words: Dan Smith

On the face of things, The Beatles playing The Cavern Club may come across as nothing special, especially considering this is a venue they are estimated to have played over 275 times. But on this day 60 years ago, arguably one of the biggest blunders in musical history occured.

Mike Smith, best known for being the record producer who produced six No.1 records with the likes of Brian Poole, Georgie Fame and Love Affair with Decca Records, was in attendence 60 years ago. The Scouse four-piece, with Pete Best on drums, played two shows on 13th December 1961, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Mike Smith attended the evening show, with a view of offering a record deal to The Beatles.

On the back of this performance. The Beatles were offered an audition at Decca Records and it looked like their journey to superstardom was about to commence. That was of course until they ran into Dick Rowe, who is famously remembered as the man who turned down The Beatles.

A lot of debate has since been made of this, with some stating Dick was the man to turn them down, others stating it was actually Mike. The reason, again is disputed. One rumour circulated that Rowe’s reasoning was “guitar music is on the way out”, another that their performance on the day was below par.

And much has been made of that audition, with several factors coming into play such as them being refused the chance to play with their own equipment, being racked with nerves and just generally being treated like they didn’t matter. On the day John, Paul and George all sung 4 songs each and ultimately, they were turned away.

And the rest as they say, is history. Of course this wasn’t the only time The Beatles were turned away, but this being the most high profile of the lot. Can you imagine looking back on decisions you made in life and this being one? The definition of regret.

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