and other early versions of
Introducing The Beatles
Released January, 1964
Beatles discographies have long listed July 22, 1963 as the official release date for Introducing The Beatles. This is not correct. The original back cover to the album contains miniature pictures of the covers of 25 Vee-Jay albums, including five that feature the brackets logo. Because the brackets logo did not make its debut until October of 1963, Introducing The Beatles could not have been issued prior to that time. This has led Beatles historians to conclude that the album was initially distributed in November of 1963. This is also incorrect. The documentary evidence detailed below proves that the album was not released until January of 1964.
Although Vee-Jay did not issue Introducing the Beatles until 1964, Vee-Jay documents indicate that the company took initial steps towards the album's release at a much earlier time. Vee-Jay maintained a master book in which numbers were assigned in chronological order to all songs and album sides mastered for the company. The songs from Parlophone's Please Please Me album, which were later issued on Introducing the Beatles, were entered into the master book in April or May of 1963. As Vee-Jay had previously released Please Please Me and Ask Me Why on a single, those songs already had master numbers (63-2967 and 63-2968). The remaining songs, starting with I Saw Her Standing There, were assigned master numbers 63-3183 through 63-3194. Because From Me To You (63-3218) and Thank You Girl (63-3219) have higher master numbers than the songs on the album, the Please Please Me album master tapes had to have been received by Vee-Jay prior to the release of the From Me To You / Thank You Girl single in May of 1963.
Exhibits filed in Vee-Jay's New York lawsuit against Capitol Records demonstrate that the company began preparations in June of 1963 for the album's release. An invoice sent to Vee-Jay by Universal Recording Corporation in late June of 1963 indicates that Universal prepared "Monaural Masters" and "Stereo Masters" for matrix numbers 63-3402 and 63-3403. These are the matrix numbers assigned to side one and side two of Introducing The Beatles. The invoice further indicates that mono and stereo lacquers were sent by Air Express to Audio Matrix. Audio Matrix invoices dated June 28, 1963, indicate that stereo stampers for matrix numbers 63-3402 S and 63-3403 S were sold to Vee-Jay and shipped to ARP and Monarch Records. There are also Audio Matrix invoices dated July 1, 1963, that show that mono stampers for matrix numbers 63-3402 and 63-3403 were sent to Southern Plastics, Monarch Records and ARP. The dates of the invoices are consistent with dates appearing in the trail off areas of the records. The stereo discs are dated 6-28-63 and the mono discs are dated 6-29-63. These documents show that the metal parts needed to press Introducing The Beatles were at the primary factories used by Vee-Jay by early July of 1963.
Vee-Jay also began designing the cover for the album at that time. A July 9, 1963, invoice shows that Magna Graphic Inc. of Lexington, Kentucky, charged Vee-Jay $375 to prepare the set of four-color separation film positives needed to print the front cover slick.
The front cover of Introducing The Beatles uses the Angus McBean color photograph that served as the cover of Parlophone's The Beatles'Hits EP, except that Vee-Jay chopped off the lower extremities of the boys and managed to reverse the negative. Thus, the members of the group are shown with their famous hair flowing in the wrong direction. The title of the album, appearing at the top of the jacket on two lines as "introducing... THE BEATLES," is followed by the phrase "ENGLANDS No. 1 VOCAL GROUP" to let the American public know of the group's popularity in their homeland.
The mono covers have the slick positioned so that the number LP 1062 appears in the lower right hand corner. The positioning of the slick on the stereo covers cuts off all of Paul's arms except for a sliver of his thumbs and exposes a white top banner with "STEREOPHONIC" centered in grey and the number SR 1062 in black in the upper righthand corner.
In 1959, Vee-Jay began using Coburn & Company, an offset printing firm in Chicago, to print the front cover slicks and back cover liner notes for its albums. Coburn included the phrase "Printed in U.S.A." either in upper and lower case or in all capital letters on front cover slicks prepared for Vee-Jay. A Vee-Jay invoice ledger sheet prepared by Coburn indicates that Coburn printed the covers for Vee-Jay's initial Four Seasons'LP and EP releases, which included Sherry and 11 Others (LP 1053), The 4 Seasons Greetings (LP 1055), The 4 Seasons Sing (VJEP 1-90 1 ), Big Girls Don't Cry and 12 Others (LP 1056) and Golden Hits of the 4 Seasons (LP 1065). The phrase "Printed in U.S.A." appears on all of these covers. When Vee-Jay's financial difficulties in the summer of 1963 prevented the company from paying its suppliers, Coburn refused to accept new orders from Vee-Jay in September and sued Vee-Jay for over $50,000 owed on account. This forced Vee-Jay to switch printers. Unlike Coburn, the new printers did not include the phrase "Printed in U.S.A." on their covers. As Golden Hits of the 4 Seasons remained in Vee-Jay's catalog through 1965, covers to this album are also found without "Printed in U.S.A."
A July 23, 1963, invoice used as an exhibit in Vee-Jay's New York lawsuit with Capitol Records indicates that Coburn prepared 6,000 cover slicks each for LP 1062 and LP 1063 at a total cost to Vee-Jay of $790.00. Although Vee-Jay never released LP 1063, the 6,000 slicks printed by Coburn for Introducing The Beatles were the first slicks used for the album. These slicks are easily identifiable as they have "Printed in U.S.A." running vertically along the left side jacket one to two inches from the lower left corner. Additional cover slicks for Introducing The Beatles were not prepared until nearly six months later. By that time, Vee-Jay was no longer using Coburn to print its album covers. This explains why most copies of the album, as well as the other Beatles albums on Vee-Jay, do not have "Printed in U.S.A." on their covers. The later cover slicks for Introducing The Beatles were probably printed by Ivy Hill Lithograph Corp. at its Great Neck, New York, and Los Angeles, California, locations.
There are three distinctly different variations to the mono and stereo back covers to Version One of Introducing The Beatles. In its first incarnation, the back cover serves as an advertisement for "OTHER FINE ALBUMS OF SIGNIFICANT INTEREST" on Vee-Jay. It has miniature color photographs of the covers of 25 Vee-Jay albums. The back cover artwork used on this version of the jacket is nothing more than one side of the inner sleeve dustjacket, which often came with Vee-Jay albums issued in late 1963 and most of 1964. There is absolutely nothing on the back cover regarding the group or the songs. The front cover has the phrase "Printed in U.S.A." running vertically along its lower left side. This variation is known as the "Ad Back" cover.
The complete story behind the Ad Back cover may never be known, as the individuals serving as Vee-Jay's executive officers during 1963 and 1964 are all deceased. Thus, some of the secrets surrounding the cover were buried with Randy Wood, Calvin Carter and Jay Lasker. While Randy Wood, who became Vee-Jay's president in August of 1963, did discuss the matter with Beatles collector and historian Gareth Pawlowski, Randy Wood's statements should not be taken as gospel as he was known to engage in revisionist history. Still, the Randy Wood/Gareth Pawlowski explanation of the Ad Back cover is worth reviewing as it is as colorful as the back cover itself.
In his book How They Became The Beatles, Gareth provides the details of his discussions with Randy Wood regarding the cover. Original plans called for the back cover to have liner notes and song title information as was typical of other Vee-Jay albums issued at that time. For example, the back cover to Frank Ifield's I Remember You, issued in late 1962, lists the songs included on the album and has detailed liner notes on Frank Ifield's background and recording career. Regarding Introducing The Beatles, Randy Wood is quoted as saying that "A sample cover was made up with identical liner notes by Tony Barrow, just like the Please Please Me LP in England, with twelve songs instead of fourteen."
Although Vee-Jay received liner notes information from EMI and intended to have liner notes on the back cover, there is no evidence that a prototype cover was ever produced. A review of the Vee-Jay invoice ledger prepared by Coburn indicates that negatives for liner notes were prepared in August of 1963 for LP 1060, 1061, 1066, 1067, 1069 and 1070. No liner notes negatives were prepared for LP 1062, Introducing The Beatles. While Vee-Jay may have had liner notes designed for the album, no such notes have surfaced and are presumed forever lost if they ever existed.
Gareth believed that the replacement of the liner notes back cover with the Ad Back cover was prompted by legal and financial considerations. His theory on the cover was partially told in his book and later supplemented in a taped conversation with Gary Hein recorded shortly before Gareth's death in 1995. The world according to Gareth goes like this. Vee-Jay had thousands of copies of the vinyl records for Introducing The Beatles pressed in July or August of 1963 in preparation for a fall release date. After the discs had been manufactured, Vee-Jay received a disturbing letter in mid-August from Transglobal, the company that had licensed the rights to the Beatles masters to Vee-Jay. The letter informed Vee-Jay that two songs on the Please Please Me album, namely Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You, were property of Ardmore & Beechwood, a British music publisher. The letter went on to say that Vee-Jay did not have the copyright license rights for the two songs and warned Vee-Jay not to include the two songs when releasing the album. This news was particularly disturbing to Vee-Jay as thousands of copies of the album containing the two songs had already been pressed. Vee-Jay was not in a financial position to destroy and repress the records without the two songs, so it was decided to sneak the record out in a cover that failed to disclose the inclusion of the songs. Gareth theorized that this was accomplished by using a slick featuring miniature covers of 25 Vee-Jay albums on the back cover rather than a slick containing the names of the songs. He believed that this Ad Back version of the album was quietly released in November of 1963.
While the above makes an interesting story and has been embraced by Beatles collectors and historians, the theory is flawed and without support. For starters, there would be no reason for Vee-Jay to press thousands of copies of the records for Introducing The Beatles months ahead of its release date and prior to the covers being assembled. Just where and how would these coverless records be stored? There is absolutely no documentary evidence of any pressing plant invoicing Vee-Jay for the production of LP 1062 during the summer or fall of 1963. Even conceding that most of the invoices from 1963 have been lost, it is still highly unlikely that any records for Introducing The Beatles were manufactured that summer.
Another key element to Gareth's theory that fails to hold up under review is the letter Vee-Jay allegedly received from Transglobal informing the company that it did not have the copyright license rights for Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You. If such a letter existed, it certainly would have been a key piece of evidence in Beechwood Music's copyright infringement suit filed against Vee-Jay in January of 1964. The court record in the case contains no such letter, and none of the pleadings filed by either of the parties refer to any such letter. When interviewed for this book, Thomas Levy, the lawyer who prepared and argued the copyright case for Vee-Jay, had no memory of any such letter, Based on the above, it appears that Gareth's story on the origin of the Ad Back is just that - a story.
Betty Chiapetta, who started working for Vee-Jay in its accounting department in early 1964, has a much less exciting, but more likely correct, explanation of how the Ad Back cover evolved. She believes that Introducing The Beatles covers were manufactured with Ad Back slicks because Vee-Jay was in a hurry to issue the album and, at that time, did not have a back cover slick prepared for the album. This simple explanation is supported by the facts.
Although Vee-Jay took preliminary steps to issue Introducing The Beatles in the summer of 1963, its plans to release the album, along with several other records, were put on hold until the fall due to severe cash flow problems. These financial difficulties not only restricted the company from issuing new product, but also limited its ability to meet existing obligations, including royalty payments owed to recording artists as well as publishing companies and licensing agencies. As Frank Ifield and the Beatles were not priority items for Vee-Jay at that time, the company failed to send royalty statements and payments to Transglobal, the EMI subsidiary that licensed Ifield and Beatles masters to Vee-Jay. This caused Transglobal to send Vee-Jay a telegram on August 8, 1963, demanding that Vee-Jay immediately cease production and distribution of all Frank Ifield and Beatles records.
Financial difficulties were not the only problems facing Vee-Jay that summer. Vee-Jay's owners discovered that the company's president, Ewart Abner, was responsible for massive cash shortages. Although Abner was extremely popular and considered a promotional genius, the owners reluctantly terminated his services in late July, along with those of public relations chief Barbara Gardener and promotion and A&R head Bill Sheppard. Vee-Jay's financial problems and corporate shake-up left the company a mess. As the summer of 1963 drew to a close, Frank Ifield an the Beatles were of no concern to Vee-Jay. There were much greater problems to solve. In fact, the company no longer considered Frank Ifield or the Beatles to be Vee-Jay artists. Since neither was selling that many records in America, it really didn't matter.
When Randy Wood became president of the company in August of 1963, he attempted to get Vee-Jay back on track. Realizing the importance of issuing new product, the company prepared a revised release schedule. A few of the albums originally planned for release, including Introducing The Beatles (LP 1062), Young Peoples'Introduction to Hebrew Music ... Presented by Cantor Samuel Vigoda and the Oscar Julius Choir (LP 1063), Frank Ifield Favorites (LP 1064) and How About Love by Alma Cogan (LP 1068), were cancelled. Five new albums that featured the company's new bracket logo on their covers were added to the Fall 1963 release schedule and were included on the inner sleeve that was later used as the back 'cover to Introducing The Beatles. The new albums were: The New Wine Singers At The Chicago Opera House (LP 1071), Jimmy Reed Sings The Best Of The Blues (LP 1072), Jimmy Reed Plays 12 String Guitar Blues (LP 1073), the compilation Soul Meeting Saturday Night Hootenanny Style featuring Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker (LP 1074) and For Your Precious Love by The Impressions with Jerry Butler (LP 1075). The fact that Introducing The Beatles was not listed in the revised release schedule and was not mentioned in any Vee-Jay press release or advertisement supports the view that in October of 1963, Vee-Jay had absolutely no plans of ever releasing Introducing The Beatles or any other new records by the Beatles or, for that matter, Frank Ifield.
By December of 1963, Americans began taking notice of the Beatles huge popularity overseas. The group's phenomenal success was suddenly newsworthy. The record industry was abuzz with the news that Capitol Records was preparing a massive publicity campaign to launch its release of I Want To Hold Your Hand and Meet The Beatles! In short, Beatlemania was about to arrive in the United States.
These events did not go unnoticed by Vee-Jay. Its employees remembered that the company had released two singles by the Beatles and that preliminary steps were taken during the past summer to release an album by the group. It was now time to rethink the Beatles status with Vee-Jay. Corporate minutes dated January 7, 1964, indicate that Jay Lasker discussed the Beatles situation with attorney Walter Hofer, who represented both Vee-Jay and the Beatles. He apparently told Lasker that Vee-Jay had the rights to the four songs previously released on VJ 498 and VJ 522, but probably did not have the rights to the unissued songs previously slated for release on Introducing The Beatles. Although Vee-Jay viewed the release of a Beatles album as a calculated risk, it was decided to issue the album, as the company needed the money that the record would undoubtedly produce. Vee-Jay quickly discovered that ARP, Monarch and Southern Plastics still had the stampers for Introducing The Beatles that had been sent to the pressing plants the previous summer. In addition, there were 6,000 front covers slicks ready to be assembled onto album jackets. All that was needed was the information for the record labels and a back cover.
Apparently, no one was able to locate the original liner-notes planned for Introducing The Beatles. Realizing that Capitol and EMI would not be pleased by its plans to issue Introducing The Beatles, Vee-Jay could not request liner notes information from EMI.
The inner sleeve dust jackets featuring the 25 miniature album covers were printed for Vee-Jay towards the end of 1963. It is quite possible that the inner sleeves were being readied for printing at the same time Vee-Jay was deciding what to put on the back cover of its Beatles album. Apparently, someone came up with the idea to use one side of the inner sleeve as the back cover of the album. This could easily be accomplished by using the same printing plates for both the inner sleeves and the back cover slicks. In fact, the sleeves and the slicks could be printed during the same press run by merely switching the paper used for the inner sleeves with the thicker, glossier paper used for the back cover slicks. As time was of the essence, this would be a quick and painless way to get the covers manufactured. An examination of the inner sleeves and the Ad Back cover supports this theory, as an unfolded and trimmed inner sleeve exactly matches the back cover slick.
Introducing The Beatles was not the only Vee-Jay album to use the Ad Back. Betty Everett's It's In His Kiss album, VJ 1077, was issued with liner notes and song titles printed in a box at the bottom of the front cover and with the Ad Back slick on the back cover. There is also a 1964 pressing of Dee Clark's hold on ... it's DEE CLARK album, VJ 1037, that has a black and white version of the Ad Back slick pasted on its back cover.
Contrary to previously held beliefs, it is likely that all three cover variations were assembled within weeks or even days of each other and were issued at the same time in January of 1964. Although Beatles historians have always insisted that Introducing The Beatles was first released in 1963, Vee-Jay documents prove otherwise. All royalty statements prepared for Capitol and song publishing companies list no sales for the album until the first quarter of 1964. This is consistent with the summary sheets of distributors' orders, which show that the first orders for LP 1062 were taken on January 8, 1964. Corporate minutes from the Tuesday, January 7, 1964, meeting of the Board of Directors of Vee-Jay further confirm that Introducing The Beatles was not released in 1963. In discussing the Beatles situation, Jay Lasker is quoted as follows: "We have an LP that could be huge-we can get it out on the street by the end of this week-at least 30,000 LP's could be gotten out." This indicates that the album was released on or about Friday, January 10, 1964.
The minutes further indicate Vee-Jay knew that its questionable legal rights to release the album made the Beatles a "calculated risk." Even so, Mark Sands, the company's financial consultant, was of the opinion that Vee-Jay's cash flow problems necessitated taking the calculated risk of releasing Beatles recordings even if the company had to pay in a year or two if it lost its legal battles with Capitol. Thus, Vee-Jay's decision to release the album came with an attitude of "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"
With production, sales and distribution of the album running full speed ahead, Vee-Jay hit a road block on January 16, 1964. Capitol obtained a temporary injunction prohibiting Vee-Jay from manufacturing or distributing Beatles records. Vee-Jay was also sued by Capitol's Beechwood Music subsidiary over the inclusion of the songs Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You on the album. When Vee-Jay resumed production of the album in February, these songs were replaced with Please Please Me and Ask Me Why. One is left to ponder why the boring Titles On Back cover scheme was not jettisoned for a more attractive cover when Vee-Jay reissued the album in its Version Two configuration. It is quite possible that Vee-Jay wanted both versions of the album to have similar covers so that leftover Version One albums could be put in the distribution pipeline without attracting attention.
As with all Beatles records on Vee-Jay, there are multiple label variations for this historic album. This is because the records were manufactured at different regional pressing plants. Exhibits filed in Vee-Jay's New York litigation with Capitol indicate that stampers were initially sent to the same three factories that produced the Beatles 1963 singles: ARP, Monarch and Southern Plastics.
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