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David Harris with the contract
Writing The Beatles' first contract
By Paul Coslett
As The Beatles' first contract sells for £240,000, the man who drew it up reflects on how he came to write a piece of musical history.
The Beatles' original contract between themselves and Brian Epstein has fetched £240,000 at auction.
The document, which was drawn up in 1962 went under the hammer at an auction of rock memorabilia in London on 4 September, 2008.
It was written by Liverpool solicitor and now retired district judge, David Harris, "I was a young solicitor with Silverman and Livermore, I'd been made a partner in the middle of 1961 and I was doing general litigation," recalls David.
David Harris knew of Brian Epstein, but had never acted as solicitor for him when he was approached to write a contract between Epstein and The Beatles.
"It was in December 1961 and I got a call at the office from Brian, for whom I'd never previously acted.
"He said that he was interested in a group called The Beatles, which meant nothing to me at all, and he said he's like me to draw up a contract between him and them.
"That was in the middle of December and he wanted it before Christmas, therefore, I had to work very hard to draw up this contract as after all it was a new sphere for me, and in fact we got it out in time."
This first contract was never signed by Brian Epstein who vowed not to sign it until it he had secured a recording contract for the group.
"At that time in late December 1961 Pete Best was still the drummer," David Harris remembers.
"Initially the contracts were all done in Brian's name, as an individual, but then things progressed.
"He realised it was more sensible to form a company, and in fact I formed the company for him, NEMS Enterprise Ltd, which meant of course there had to be a further contract drawn up between the new company and the group."
This contract, the successor of the one David Harris wrote in such a hurry in December 1961, is now hailed as one of the most important in rock and roll, marking the beginning of the groups journey to international stardom.
John Lennon's signature
The contract is signed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
The signatures of Harold Harrison and James McCartney, George and Paul's parents are also featured as their consent was needed because their sons were under 21.
Ted Owen, the managing director of The Fame Bureau, which is holding the auction has described it as "one of the most important documents in music history."
David Harris says Brian Epstein acted very properly throughout the process, "I was very concerned, and he was too, that their parents should be fully involved.
"They were of an age when it was necessary and desirable that the parents knew exactly what was going on.
"He did say he wanted to be scrupulously fair to them and did not want to take advantage of them.
At the time the contract was just one of many items of legal paperwork that David Harris was working on, it was only later as The Beatle's became superstars that he realised the significance of his contribution to musical history.
"Yes, it was a surprise that things happened so quickly," says David Harris.
"They did extremely well, they were very talented and are very talented."
last updated: 05/09/2008 at 14:02