Auctions | August 6, 2021

Rare Handwritten Beatles Set Lists Headline at Bonhams

Courtesy of Bonhams

A handwritten set list by Paul McCartney, 1960 (detail). Estimate: $150,000-250,000

Los Angeles — On October 28, Bonhams sale of Music Memorabilia will offer two extraordinary rarities from The Beatles’ earliest years, handwritten set lists from live performances held in 1960 and 1963. Both set lists were written by Sir Paul McCartney when he was only 17 and 20 years old. These are two of just eight Beatles set lists in existence that are handwritten by a member of the band. Each is estimated at $150,000–250,000.
 
Bonhams Senior Specialist of Popular Culture Howard Kramer commented, “Well-preserved handwritten set lists represent rare and intimate moments in time, classifying them among the most covetable type of performance-related documents. These two set lists in Paul McCartney’s handwriting from 1960 and 1963 are astounding artifacts of The Beatles at two key points in their development. Each one offers a fascinating glimpse into the creative process behind early performances of a group that redefined rock and roll, and popular culture across the world.”
 
The Important Handwritten Set List by Paul McCartney, 1960 is from a run of shows at The Grosvenor Ballroom in Liscard, located just across the Mersey River from the band’s hometown of Liverpool, during the Spring of 1960. The Grosvenor Ballroom was part of the ecosystem of coffee bars, church halls, ballrooms and working men’s clubs where The Beatles first learned their craft. The set list details song titles from the Beatles’ primary musical influences, including Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry, among others. The only Lennon-McCartney original included in this set is “One After 909,” one of their earliest collaborations (though it would not be formally released until 1970). In addition to the song titles are marks and personal annotations from McCartney, including the phrase “FOR JOHN TO TRY” scrawled in all capital letters directly above the final song.
 
The Important Handwritten Set List by Paul McCartney, 1963 is written on the back of a Parlophone Records publicity postcard, and notably is signed by all four members of the band, accompanied by the note, “lots of love Lorraine, from The Beatles.” Of the few existing handwritten set lists, this is one of just two signed by each member. This set list is from a performance by the band at the Majestic Ballroom in Luton on April 17, 1963. At this moment in time, The Beatles were on the precipice of unprecedented success. Song titles listed on this set include their newly released and soon to be first UK Number One hit, “From Me To You,” as well as three other original songs and six covers. In a few short months, Beatlemania was in full swing and their days of playing ballrooms were well behind them.
 
Beatles 1960 Set List with Original Performers Noted:
    •    “Hallelujah (I Love Her So)” – Ray Charles, Eddie Cochran
    •    “That’s Alright Mama” – Elvis Presley
    •    “Stuck On You” – Elvis Presley
    •    “Tutti Frutti” – Little Richard
    •    “Long Tall Sally” – Little Richard
    •    “What’d I Say” – Ray Charles
    •    “Red Sails in the Sunset” – Patti Page and others
    •    “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” – Jerry Lee Lewis
    •    “Mean Woman Blues” – Elvis Presley
    •    “I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine” – Elvis Presley
    •    “Honey Don’t” – Carl Perkins
    •    “Clarabella” – The Jodimars
    •    “Rip It Up” - Little Richard
    •    “Fabulous” – Charlie Gracie
    •    “Lotta Lovin’ ” – Gene Vincent
    •    “Kansas City” – Little Richard, Wilbert Harrison
    •    “Jenny, Jenny” - Little Richard
    •    “Little Queenie” – Chuck Berry
    •    “Oh My Soul” – Little Richard
    •    “Lucille” - Little Richard
    •    “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” – Lloyd Price
    •    “Cathy’s Clown” – Everly Brothers
    •    “One After 909” – The Beatles
    •    “Words of Love” – Buddy Holly
    •    “I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’)” – Elvis Presley
    •    “I Wonder If I Care As Much” – Everly Brothers
    •    “Sure to Fall” – Carl Perkins
    •    “Alright, OK, You Win” – Count Basie, Peggy Lee
 
Beatles 1963 Set List with Original Performers Noted:
    •    “I Saw Her Standing There” – The Beatles
    •    “A Shot of Rhythm And Blues” – Arthur Alexander
    •    “Do You Want To Know A Secret” – The Beatles
    •    “Beautiful Dreamer” – Stephen Foster, many versions
    •    “Anna” – Arthur Alexander
    •    “Thank You Girl” – The Beatles
    •    “If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody” – James Ray
    •    “Sweet Little Sixteen” – Chuck Berry
    •    “From Me To You” – The Beatles
    •    “Long Tall Sally” – Little Richard

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