A handwritten letter by Paul McCartney, dated 12 August 1960, inviting an unknown drummer to audition for The Beatles, has been discovered folded-up inside a book, by an anonymous collector at a car boot sale in Bootle, Liverpool.
The letter will be offered for sale at Christie’s Popular Culture: Rock and Pop Memorabilia auction on 15 November 2011 and is expected to fetch £7,000 to £9,000. The Paul McCartney letter is one of a substantial section of over thirty lots dedicated to The Beatles and its individual band members.
The significance of this letter in the development of The Beatles is due to the exact time it was written. It is known that the advertisement (Box KP 60), placed in the Liverpool Echo on the 8th August simply read “Drummer – Young – Free”, but the identity of the person who placed it remains a mystery. Dated 12 August 1960, McCartney’s response to the advert was written only four days after John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe had verbally committed themselves to travel to Hamburg on 15th August as a five-piece band – the advert had appeared at an opportune time for The Beatles.
Before the discovery of this letter, it was not known that The Beatles were searching for a fifth member so close to their departure for Hamburg, and it was thought that Pete Best was the only option they considered.
It is not known if McCartney’s letter was responded to, if an audition took place or if time was so against them, it left no alternative but for Pete Best to travel with them to Hamburg to fulfill their contract. Best was dismissed from the band two years later, and replaced by Ringo Starr.
All details including letter images are courtesy of Christie’s.