Tape from 1974 sheds light on Beatles squabbles

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The Independent Culture

An audio tape of two of the former Beatles, made when relations between the band members were at an all-time low, is to be broadcast for the first time this morning.

An audio tape of two of the former Beatles, made when relations between the band members were at an all-time low, is to be broadcast for the first time this morning.

The unedited recording was in an attic for 26 years before the owner, who does not want to be identified, handed it to the BBC's Three Counties (Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire) station.

The tape, promotional jingles and conversation between John Lennon and Ringo Starr, sheds light on the relationship between the former members of the band, which broke up in 1970, as they fought over royalties. The tape stems from a session in 1974 when the two were recording advertisements for Starr's solo Goodnight Vienna album and Lennon's album Walls and Bridges.

The ribbing, including Lennon putting on a fake American accent, descends into barbed jokes about the break-up of the Beatles' company Apple Records, the main victim of their comments being Paul McCartney. At one point, referring to his success with Wings, Lennon asks Starr: "Are you sure Paul knows who we are?" and says he would swap "one Ringo for two Pauls". They also joke that Apple is being "sliced up". Starr says: "You get the core."

A 90-second clip from the seven-and-a-half minute tape is broadcast today by "Big George" Webley on his morning show on FM103.8. The clip does not contain the references to McCartney because the owner did not want to reopen an old rift. "She doesn't want to upset Paul. She doesn't want to sell the tape; she wants to give it to one of them," said Webley.

He was sent the whole tape by the listener, who once worked for a firm distributing radio jingles. "In 1974 she was called by a third party that was dealing with these two albums ... they were sending out radio slots, and they accidentally sent the unedited version. A copy of the edited version, with 10-second radio slots, eventually went out, and she stuck the original in a drawer and forgot about it."

He said he was a little suspicious when first contacted, but was convinced of its authenticity as soon as he heard it and saw the old reel.

The tape makes explicit the affection that Lennon and Starr felt for each other, with each making references to their "friend", and dissolving into laughter. Lennon, then living in New York with Yoko Ono, asks about life back in Britain, and for the latest gossip on Apple.

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