Thursday, July 15, 2004

Flea market buy is Beatles bonanza

Memorabilia-stuffed suitcase cost $36

The Associated Press

All you need is luck.

A vacationer who purchased a suitcase at an Australian flea market found a trove of Beatles memorabilia inside, including photos, concert programs and unreleased recordings, the Times newspaper of London reported Tuesday.

While the materials have yet to be authenticated, some experts believe the collection is the lost "Mal Evans archive," originally belonging to the Beatles' roadie and recording engineer.

Evans was killed by police in Los Angeles in 1976 after he had brandished a fake gun. His belongings were lost during the investigation.

Fraser Claughton, 41, from Tinkerton, England, bought the suitcase in a small town outside of Melbourne for about $36.

"It's like finding the end of the rainbow in Australia," the Times quoted Claughton as saying. "I spotted one tatty old suitcase, which frankly I wouldn't have given house room, but when I picked it up there was something in it."

The 4 1/2 hour reel-to-reel tape recording includes John Lennon and Paul McCartney experimenting with previously unrecorded tracks, plus new versions of "We Can Work It Out" and "Cry Baby Cry."

The Times put an extract from another of the newly discovered recordings, "I'm in Love," on its Web site,

The Lennon-McCartney song was never released by the Beatles but was released by another Liverpool band, the Fourmost.

The tapes, labeled "Abbey Road ... not for release," will be evaluated by the Beatles' record label, Apple, and examined by experts to determine their origin and authenticity.

A spokeswoman for Christie's said while the auction house has had no contact with the collection as of yet, there is "Beatles memorabilia in every pop memorabilia sale - it's very popular."

In 1998, a notebook compiled by Evans, containing draft lyrics for "Hey Jude" and "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," sold for $185,000 at a London auction. A year earlier, McCartney obtained an injunction to prevent Evans' widow from selling a scrap of paper with the original lyrics to "With a Little Help From My Friends."

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