A rare recording of the Beatles performing at a Hamburg, Germany strip club in December 1962 is set to hit the auction block starting February 27th. Auction house Ted Owen & Co. will offer up the original master recording tape of the small Star Club gigs, recorded between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve 1962, with a reserve price of £100,000, or roughly $150,000, the Guardian reports, but they’re expected to fetch much higher at auction.
The recording was made just four months after Ringo Starr was asked to join the Beatles and two months after the group released their first single “Love Me Do.” The master recordings changed hands throughout the years – including failed purchases by both Beatles manager Brian Epstein and Yoko Ono – before ultimately ending up in the hands of Larry Grossberg, the former manager of Andy Warhol and Muhammad Ali.
It is Grossberg who is putting the tapes up for auction, as he tells the Guardian, “I’m 74 and it’s time to sell. I don’t want my family to have the burden of going through my things and liquidating everything.”
Recorded on a reel-to-reel tape machine with a lone microphone, the recording features 33 tracks the Beatles performed at the Star Club, both in unedited and remixed forms; when Grossberg initially purchased the “poor quality” tapes, he spent nearly $150,000 cleaning them up for an album of the Star Club gigs that he released in 1977.
Of the nearly three dozen songs that the band performed, only two songs – “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Ask Me Why” – were penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The rest of the gigs feature covers that would soon become Beatles staples, like Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Twist and Shout.” The auction will also include the complete reel of the Star Club recordings, featuring banter between the Beatles that wasn’t included on the live album.
While the tapes had been the subject of court battles in the past – Lennon allegedly agreed to allow the recording in exchange for beer money; George Harrison would later argue in court that “one drunken person recording another bunch of drunks does not constitute a business deal” – Grossberg adds that Apple Records, the Beatles’ label, has no issue with the sale of the Star Club recording since they view the tapes as memorabilia.