Beatles` first contract expected to fetch £50K at auction

Updated: Apr 10, 2011, 17:29 PM IST

London: The first recording and publishing contract signed by English rock band The Beatles` is expected to fetch 50,000 pounds at an auction this week.

The seven-page document, whose existence was previously unknown, turned up in Switzerland earlier this month, reports the Independent.

The contract signed by the young band in Hamburg, Germany, on 19 June 1961, was written in German, with no translation made available.

There are five signatures: John W Lennon, James Paul McCartney, George Harrison (then only 18) and the group``s former drummer, Peter Best, who was sacked a year later to make way for Ringo Starr.

The fifth signature belongs to the German bandleader Bert Kaempfert. At the time, he was also an arranger and producer and hired the Beatles under the auspices of Polydor Records to back the English singer Tony Sheridan.

It is believed that the contract was passed from Kaempfert to a friend, another German producer, who gave it to his daughter, who has held on to the papers at her home in Switzerland until now.

The agreement covered three major hits for the band: "My Bonnie", "Ain``t She Sweet" and "Cry for a Shadow", as well as backing Sheridan on another five numbers, released before their return to the UK.

The document states that the band would receive royalties of 2 per cent from sales and 25 German marks each per day, including the cost of a first-class rail ticket.

It also states that Lennon would receive the payments on behalf of the band, as he was then the "representative" of the group.

It also reveals what little creative control the band had with their music during their formative years.

"The songs are to be chosen by mutual agreement. If no agreement can be reached, the decision is to be made by the production team," said the document.

Ted Owen, of the auctioneers Fame Bureau, who located the contract, said: "The most important thing about this contract is that we didn`t know it existed. It`s gold dust."

The auction will take place at the Theatre Royal in central London.