Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pete Best on the Polydor Recording Sessions

"The Polydor recording session was weird, to be quite honest. You have to imagine that we hadn't recorded before, and when Bert Kaempfert signed us up to back Tony Sheridan--and also to record in our own right--we were expecting to go into a recording studio. You know, this was Bert Kaempfert--"Wonderland by Night" and "That Happy Feeling"--the big A&R manager in Germany. We actually ended up in a school hall in Hamburg. This absolutely amazed us. It wasn't even a proper studio. So we set up on the stage in the school hall. All the sound equipment was backstage and we took sound levels, then Kaempfert came along and did the sound checks. He turned around and said, 'Okay, play the number through.' So we ran through 'My Bonnie,' the levels were taken, and we played another piece through. Basically, it was like two or three takes, and booomp, it was in the can.

"We were excited. Don't get me wrong. Some people said, 'Here you are, the lads from Liverpool, recording with Polydor Records. You've made it!' We had gotten a contract and all the rest of it, but it was a case of the surroundings being different from what we had anticipated. It worked out great, though. The sound was good, even on those early recordings. There were two sessions that actually took place. One was in the school hall. Then we went back later and did one in the studio--"Sweet Georgia Brown"--with Tony. Most of the material that was done on those sessions has come out on Polydor and all the American affiliates. And, of course, we don't get any of the royalties. All we did was sign a contract and got sessionman fees, which were about 200 marks in those days. That was it! Royalties might have gone to Tony, but not to us."

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