Unreleased Beatles songs are as rare as hens’ teeth, but mother nature just loves to surprise. A 1960s Beatles rarity has been unearthed and is currently circulating on eBay.
A 1963 demo acetate of “What Goes On” is currently listed on the online auction giant via the website Parlogram, and is tracking at almost £7,000 with less than a week to go.
The recording up for grabs was sung by John Lennon and carries different lyrics to the final cut, which features Ringo Starr on vocals and appeared on the 1965 album Rubber Soul.
According to the seller, “What Goes On” is one of Lennon’s earliest compositions and was penned for his pre-Beatles group, The Quarrymen. Backed by Paul McCartney on harmony, the late legend plays acoustic guitar on the newly discovered track, a snippet of which can be heard on the eBay auction listing.
The demo recording has had a charmed life of its own (read Billboard’s account here), though it’s never been released and the original tape is presumed lost. The song was due to be recorded on March 5, 1963 but the group ran out of time (they revisited the track during later sessions for Rubber Soul). The acetate last changed hands in 2012, when it was sold by George Harrison’s family though Bonham’s auction house in 2012 for $8,461. That figure should be shattered by the time the sale ends Oct. 1.
It’s not the first time a rare Beatles demo has sparked a wave of Beatlemania. In 1995, Apple Corps released “Free As A Bird,” based on a 1977 demo recorded by John Lennon in New York and completed by the other surviving Beatles. The completed version was released as the lead single from the Anthology project, reaching No. 6 in the U.S. and No. 2 in the U.K. (Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” spoiled the party by claiming the chart crown that week).
“What Goes On” is now in the public domain as, under U.K. copyright law, it hadn’t been released within 50 years of recordings.