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December 7, 2016

Beatles vs. Beattles Mystery Solved?

Beatles vs. Beattles

This existence of these tapes had not been verified since late 1964.

By Mike Vague

A recent discovery sheds a new theory about the infamous VJ 498 misspelling! A long-lost Beatles master tape provides strong evidence about how the world’s most famous musicians’ U.S. debut single had their name incorrectly listed at “The Beattles!”

Long before Beatlemania took hold in America, the well-known R&B label VJ negotiated a licensing agreement with Transglobal music on the behalf of EMI for the Beatles to release their second and record, “Please, Please Me,” backed with “Ask Me Why.” The contract was signed January 10, 1963 and was the first business deal representing The Beatles done in the U.S. The deal also gave VJ five years of first right-of-refusal for all Beatles records released in America.

Since the original contract has survived, evidence is present that the group’s name is spelled accurately.

So, it stands to reason that Transglobal would not be where the mistake would have started.

Recently, despite incredible odds, seven original VJ reel-to-reel master tapes became available after being discovered in a Hollywood storage area containing old 8- and 16-mm films.

This existence of these tapes had not been verified since late 1964, when VJ allegedly gave Capitol records all of their Beatles master reels, pending a lawsuit.

It is astounding to realize that not only were the tapes all legitimate and original, one in particular was historically significant.

The original master tape for VJ 498 was sent to VJ from EMI London in January 1963!

Upon close inspection of the tape, one can see the information handwritten on the back of the original Emitape box, where among assorted notations is a date of 1-10-63 — the same as when the contract was signed with Transglobal.

The Beatles name is spelled correctly on this box. However, later, after mastering the tape to disc, the Emitape box was stored in a larger plain brown box (as all the tapes found were) on which was written the date (1-23-63) and “The Beattles.”

In the chain of events leading up to the finished-and-released single, this seems to be the first evident place this mistake may have happened, and from there the spelling continued onto the first run of labels.

Right now, this is a very strong theory. It will be interesting to hear from the Beatles experts out there about the verification of this or additional data to support or deny its validity.

Regardless, it’s always exciting to see important artifacts surface and possibly add more clues to the always expanding story of The Beatles’ career. It’s also amazing that the tape mentioned in the licensing agreement has found its way back to the owner of the original contract.






One Comment


  1. Very interesting find. In my book “The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay,” there is an image of a 1/21/1963 telegram from VJ to its attorney requesting publishing information that has the correct “Beatles” spelling. There is also a 2/1/1963 telegram from VJ to publisher Concertone Songs that has the incorrect “Beattles” spelling. The incorrect spelling comes and goes even into 1964 in VJ in-house documents, as well as an August 1963 Transglobal (EMI) telegram to VJ and the 12-19-1963 Capitol acetate for the album “MEET THE BEATTLES.” The 1-23-1963 envelope predates any “Beattles” misspelling I am aware of.



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