A rare acetate of the Beatles’ 1964 concert at the Hollywood Bowl sold for $23,838 in an auction held by Boston-based firm RR Auction.
The disc, one of just three known to exist, features the full 12-song, 29-minute concert, along with stage comments from the group. According to the announcement, the acetate was cut directly from reel-to-reel tape three days after the concert. Acetates are most often used as test pressings to assess the quality of a recording and how it will sound on vinyl.
The recording — in which the group is practically drowned out by the famous audience screaming that accompanied their concerts of the era — was mixed by Capitol producer Voyle Gilmore and balance engineer Hugh Davies, but went unreleased at the time because the group and manager Brian Epstein were not satisfied with the results.
Some 13 years later, it was combined with a recording of the group’s 1965 concert at the venue for the 1977 “Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl,” album, which was reissued a few years back with bonus tracks. It came about when the group’s label, Capitol Records, was unable to procure permission from the American Federation of Musicians to record a concert at Carnegie Hall, so they chose the Hollywood Bowl instead, according to auction officials.
However, John Lennon said the group had enjoyed the shows. “The Hollywood Bowl was marvelous. It was the one we all enjoyed most,” he said in an undated quote included in the announcement. “We got on, and it was a big stage, and it was great. We could be heard in a place like the Hollywood Bowl, even though the crowds was wild: good acoustics.”
There has been a booming market for rare Beatles memorabilia in recent years. Julien’s Auctions has previously sold such Beatles items as one of John Lennon’s acoustic guitars, which sold for a record $2.4 million, Ringo Starr’s drum kit ($2.2 million), the drum head Ringo used on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964 ($2.1 million), Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics to “Hey Jude” ($910,000) and more.
Also sold at the RR auction, for a considerably higher price, was a document signed by legendary classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach — for $400,000.