ROCK MUSIC Beatles fans' hunger for more material fuels bogus reports
Bootlegging of Beatles music is fairly common.
By MARK BROWN
The story is as predictable as clockwork.
Every few years, some "lost" Beatles tapes are found. In some improbable place, a previously unknown stash of tape is found that is the great missing Beatles album.
In July, the Associated Press and Reuters breathlessly reported that a British tourist, Fraser Claughton, had bought an old suitcase at an Australian flea market for $36 (U.S.) and found it filled with memorabilia and hours of unreleased Beatles songs.
Speculation is rampant that the suitcase contains the late Beatles associate Mal Evans' secret stash, missing for years.
Except, of course, it's not true. The stuff in the suitcase dated from 1995, 20 years after Evans' death. Despite reports of a reel-to-reel tape found in it, the Beatles expert called in to examine the music reported that it was on CDRs.
Yet the story ran in newspapers and magazines around the world, with virtually no follow-up now that the story has been debunked.
"I'm really surprised they don't do their fact-checking a little better. Any fan can tell you it isn't true," says Archer, the Sunday-morning host of "Breakfast With the Beatles" on Denver station KQMT-FM. He goes by the one name.
Archer is one of the world's pre-eminent Beatles experts, having studied the band for decades and interviewed the members extensively. He has one of the largest private collections of rare and unreleased Beatles music in existence, much of which he airs on his show. He has Beatles music that's never been heard by the public, not even on bootleg.
You can't say that for the supposed Australian find. The Times of London put a short snippet of a John Lennon demo, "I'm in Love," on its Web site so fans could hear the "lost" track. Had they done an Internet search, they would have found the song in its entirety, as it was released on the bootleg CD "Arrive Without Aging" a decade ago after being broadcast worldwide on "The Lost Lennon Tapes" radio series in the '90s.
Debunking the myth
Peter Nash of the British Beatles Fan Club was called in to examine the latest find and immediately branded it a "nonstory" and "complete nonsense."
"The unreleased recordings turned out to be common bootleg material. The guys who owned the stuff said they had Abbey Road reel-to-reel tapes but could not produce said items when I asked to see them," Nash posted online and confirmed via e-mail with the Rocky Mountain News. "Furthermore, they stated that the tapes were in the original metal canisters. As you know, film reels are kept in metal canisters, but audio tape, which is magnetic, is always housed in cardboard or plastic boxes."
All the suitcase contained, he says, was "run-of-the-mill Beatles memorabilia -- nothing rare, just average flea-market stuff."
It's just part of the long history of hunger for new Beatles.
"The 'new Beatles discovery' story will crop up for the next hundred years, probably, but will almost always prove bogus, at least in terms of music," says West Coast Beatles expert Rip Rense, contributing editor to Beatlefan magazine.
Interestingly, the suitcase story has overshadowed what may be a real find. A 70-year-old British man, Vernon Warburton, found an old tape reel in his attic that supposedly contains rehearsal versions of "She Loves You," "You Really Got a Hold On Me," "Roll Over Beethoven" and more.