Why did George Martin sign The Beatles?

The Beatles first recording contract

Despite their local success in Liverpool and Hamburg - and Brian Epstein's best efforts -  The Beatles struggled to get their first recording deal.
Columbia, HMV, Pye, Philips, and Oriole all turned them down. Dick Rowe at Decca signed Brian Poole and the Tremeloes in preference, famously added insult to injury 'Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr Epstein'.

George Martin was the manager of Parlophone Records. Though Martin's background was in classical music, he he had built an unusual discography. This included comedy recordings of the Goons, and releases from the pianist Mrs Mills, and the teen idol Adam Faith.

In 1962 Bryan Epstein secured The Beatles an audition at Abbey Road Studios. This was largely on strength  their reputation as live act in Liverpool, Hamburg and in dance halls across the UK.

First impression

It was immediately apparent that The Beatles had technical limitations. None could read music, for example and their collective understanding of studio recording was  rudimentary. Their drummer (then Pete Best) could not keep time. They did not have a settled lead singer.

Nor were the songs presented to him by Lennon and McCartney especially promising. Later he was forthright:  "The songs the Beatles first gave me were crap." PLEASE PLEASE ME for example, was initially a Roy Orbison derivative dirge until Martin inspired Lennon to liven it up.

What Martin immediately recognised, however, was the group's raw energy and charisma - its star quality.  He calculated, correctly, that they would connect with audiences as they had connected with him.

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