10 of History's Worst Decisions

Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. Discogs

Decca Records Passes on the Signing of the Century

On New Year’s Day, 1962, Brian Epstein, the manager of an unheralded musical group, took his young talents to audition with Decca Records at their studios in West Hampstead, North London. After setting up, tuning and stringing their guitars, and clearing their throats, Epstein’s group performed about 15 songs before Dick Rowe, a senior Decca executive and the record label’s chief talent spotter. After the audition, Mr. Rowe decided to pass on signing the group, with the airy remark that “Guitar groups are on the way out, Mister Epstein“.

Epstein and his group left Decca’s studios, understandably dejected at starting the new year with a rejection. Not so Dick Rowe, who figured that his new year had started auspiciously. That same day, he had listened to another auditioning band and liking what he heard, he signed up Brian Poole and the Tremeloes to a deal with Decca Records.

All in all, signing the Tremeloes was not a bad decision in of itself, as the band had some success in the United Kingdom. In 1963, they entered the UK charts with a cover of the Isley Brothers’ Twist and Shout, and followed it up with a UK chart-topping cover of the Contours’ Do You Love Me. A year later, they did a cover of Roy Orbison’s Candy Man that pleased the Brits, and a cover of the Crickets’ Someone, Someone, which made it to number 2 on the UK charts.

The bad decision was rejecting and declining to sign the other band that had auditioned the same day as the Tremoloes: The Silver Beatles, soon to shorten their name to The Beatles. The decision to pass on The Beatles in favor of Brian Rowe and the Tremoloes would make Dick Rowe and Decca Records synonymous with bad decisions and catastrophic commercial misjudgments.

The Beatles. The Beatles