First ever Beatles record that original bandmate sold for £12k now the most valuable in the world at almost £1/4m

November 8, 2012 | by | 1 Comment

A man who once owned the most valuable record in the world has revealed how he left it gathering dust in a drawer for 20 years – and later sold it for a song.

The original acetate disc was recorded in 1958 by The Quarrymen – the forerunner of The Beatles – and retained by former band member John ‘Duff’ Lowe.

He tucked it away in a drawer until the early 1980s when he sold it to his old pal Paul McCartney for a rumoured £12,000.

John 'Duff' Lowe with his The Quarrymen record which has been named the most valuable in the world. He sold it for £12k but it's now worth £200k

John ‘Duff’ Lowe with his The Quarrymen record which has been named the most valuable in the world. He sold it for £12k but it’s now worth £200k

But the disc has now topped a list of the world’s top 10 most valuable records by Record Collector magazine with a price tag of £200,000.

Despite missing out on a small fortune, John – who played piano in The Quarrymen – said he was happy to hand the record back to his former band mate.

He said: “Once we realised its historical importance, it became quite a responsibility to have it in the house – my wife used to insist we took it on holiday – she was so scared of it being stolen.”

John, who now lives in Yatton, north Somerset, made up one quarter of a little-known skiffle group who called themselves The Quarrymen.

His fellow band members were McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon.

They cut their first record in the backroom studio of Percy Phillips, in a Liverpool suburban terraced house, on July 12 1958 after saving 17/6d for the one hour slot.

The original Quarrymen record, which had been left to gather dust for almost 23 years

The original Quarrymen record containing a Buddy Holly cover, which had been left to gather dust for almost 23 years

The record consisted of a cover version of rock ‘n’ roll song, ‘That’ll Be The Day’, made famous by Buddy Holly on one side, and ‘In Spite Of All The Danger’, penned by unknown writer McCartney, on the other.

After recording the song John absent-mindedly put the record in the bottom of his drawer and forgot about it for more than 20 years.

He left the band a few years later and went on to have a long career as a stockbroker in Liverpool and London.

Meanwhile his former band mates went on to form the Beatles, one of the world’s most succesful bands.

John when he was a friend of George Harrison in the 1960s

John when he was a friend of George Harrison in the 1960s

John said: “The label is written in Paul’s hand, and he’s given a McCartney-Harrison credit beneath the title – but in fact, George only wrote the guitar solo.

“It was Paul’s song really. I never really valued it, it was just there in the bottom of the drawer.

“After I left the band nobody asked for it back – for a long time I forgot it was there.

“Of course I followed The Beatles’ success avidly and was always pleased for them and so proud to have been a part of their early days – but I never thought much about the record.

“It was my wife Linda who was later more conscious of its historic value, she used to insist on taking it with us when we went on holiday because she was terrified of it being stolen.

“It was truly a one-off.”

John joined the band after being asked by McCartney, a fellow pupil in his music class at the Liverpool Institute.

The band had been formed only a year earlier in 1957 by Lennon with some friends from Quarrybank High School in Liverpool.

John, who was nervous to meet his fellow band-mates for the first time at practice, caught two buses to take him the six mile journey to McCartney’s house in Forthlin Road for the rehearsal.

He said: “I can remember being nervous about meeting John that Sunday, but Pail must have had his permission to invite me to join the band, and John, who was a little older than us, seemed friendly enough.

“He wasn’t there when I first arrived at Paul’s house but then I saw him through the window, he was coming through the gate, collar turned up on his overcoat, strumming his guitar.”

John left the band only a few years after recording their single.

McCartney said of the record: “We shared it. I kept it for a week, George kept it for a week, John kept it for a week, [drummer] Colin Hanton kept it for a week, then Duff kept it for 23 years.”

The Beatles and Sex Pistols take up nine of the top 10 places in the most expensive recordings, complied every two years by Record Collector magazine.

The Quarrymen’s original recording is valued at £200,000, while the next most expensive is a 1981 reproduction of the single, which goes for a more modest £10,000.

Ian Shirley, editor of the Rare Record Price Guide which compiled the list for Record Collector, said: “The Quarrymen acetate is now, in musical terms, a holy tablet equivalent to the 10 Commandments that Moses brought down from the mount.”

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Comments (1)

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  1. SP Kelly now aged 79 says:

    I was a soldier in Malaya when the Quarrymen cut that disc in 1958.
    A year later I was demobbed came home to Liverpool, got married and we lived with my sister 3 doors away from John ‘Duffs’ house in Kensington but none of us knew of the recording studio or the Quarrymen(Beetles) However we did go to the Cavern many times to listen to the jazz sessions. My mate Billy and I would first have a bottle or two of Red label Bass in a pub in Dale street, ask the barman to give us the bottle tops which were very like the Cavern membership badge. We’d fix them to our shirt and in the dim light at the entrance we would get in free. After a week or two the Cavern started allowing young groups to perform in the afternoons, the Beetles music was a big hit with the girls who started screaming for more, we thought the opposite and left the place alone.

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