Beatles records are collectible for two principal reasons. First, we’re talking about the Beatles, and anything associated with the Fab Four tends to become collectible before too long. Second, though short-lived compared to, say, the Rolling Stones and other acts from the 1960s, the Beatles were extremely prolific, which means there’s a lot of their stuff to collect.

This is especially true with Beatles records, which were released at various times in the U.S. and U.K. under numerous labels. There were dozens of LPs, scores of 45s, and even a healthy smattering of EPs.

The first U.K. Beatles single was "Love Me Do," which was released on October 5, 1962 by Parlophone. It charted at number 17 in England (two years later, it would hit number one when released in the States). The first versions of the 45 had a red label on the disc, with blue, yellow, purple, and red horizontal stripes on the sleeve. This is the version of "Love Me Do" with Ringo Starr on drums. A black-labeled version of the single was released shortly thereafter with Ringo on tambourine and session musician Andy White on drums.

Other U.K. singles that are fun to collect are the songs (four each) from A Hard Day’s Night and Help! As for the last Beatles single to be released in England when the band was still together? That would be "Let It Be" on March 6, 1970.

In the United States, before Capitol Records signed the band just before their 1964 appearance on Ed Sullivan, Vee-Jay Records was responsible for the release of Beatles music on vinyl, including singles. By all accounts, they did a poor job. One famous typo was on the 1963 45 of "Please Please Me," which included an extra "t" in the band’s name on some of the earliest pressings.

Also collectible are the 45s from the early 1990s, which Capitol produced in multiple colors—green, red, pink, blue, yellow, etc.—with the words "For Jukeboxes Only!" on the label. Most rare are the black discs with "Birthday" on one side and "Taxman" on the other; only 25 to 50 of these black 45s were shipped.

Anomalies like these are what make Beatles 45s such a rich area for collectors. According to Beatles record collector Jesse Barron, there were about 16 different label variations of the 1964 Tollie Records release of "Twist and Shout," all within about six months...

A step up in size from the 45 is the EP, which generally held two songs on a side. Twist and Shout from 1963 was the first EP in England, but Long Tall Sally is almost more interesting since it was the first Beatles EP to feature songs not previously recorded on a Beatles LP. One of those songs was "I Call Your Name," which was famously covered by The Mamas & The Papas in 1966.

Magical Mystery Tour was released as a six-song, double EP in the U.K., but when it was marketed in the U.S., Capitol decided to package it as a 11-song LP. In fact, only three Beatles EPs were issued in the United States during the band’s heyday. The first was called Souvenir of Their Visit to America. Despite the clumsy title, this 1964 Vee-Jay disc sold very well since it was released at the height of U.S. Beatlemania.

Vintage vinyl Beatles LPs offer collectors amazing diversity. Not only are there records from multiple countries, there are also records in different formats. That’s because during the 1960s, a painful (to the ears) transition from mono to stereo took place. In many cases, monaural recording sessions were turned into stereo LPs during post-production, with predictably poor results.

For collectors, some of the "pure" mono recordings of that decade are therefore highly prized. These include all of the U.K. Beatles albums released in mono, from the 1963 Parlophone release of Please Please Me to 1969’s Yellow Submarine (the last U.S. mono Beatles LP was Magical Mystery Tour in 1967).

Other LPs of note include the U.S. version of Rubber Soul without the words "The Beatles" on the record’s label. In the case of A Hard Day’s Night from 1964, the first pressings in mono and stereo featured a typo on one of the song titles ("I Cry Instead" rather than "I’ll Cry Instead"). A subsequent pressing by a company called Monarch corrected the mistake but left off the running times for each song on the record’s label. These LPs are more rare than the originals.

Unquestionably the most infamous Beatles LP was Yesterday and Today with its original cover of the smiling lads sitting around in butcher aprons with pieces of meat and dismembered dolls in their laps and on their shoulders. About 750,000 copies of this cover were printed, but response to the handful of covers sent out as advance copies convinced Capitol to immediately recall them. Some were destroyed but most were pasted over with a rather boring group photo of the Beatles sitting on, and in, a steamer trunk.

Most "butcher" covers on the market today are LPs that have had the replacement "trunk" photo peeled off. The most rare examples, of course, are the LPs with the original "butcher" cover in its original shrink wrap. The best of these are the so-called "Livingston Butchers," which are any of the 24 sealed "butcher" covers that former Capitol Records president Alan Livingston stored in a closet for more than 20 years before releasing them for sale in 1987. In all cases, stereo versions are the rarest of the rare.

Finally, a few Beatles LPs appeal to both Beatles collectors and fans of Psych rock. Covers such as 1966’s Revolver and 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band certainly fit that bill, but Magical Mystery Tour is also a link to the world of rock music posters, thanks to its cover by renowned poster artist John Van Hamersveld.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Mybeatles.net

Mybeatles.net

Jesse Barron's collection of Beatles 45s, picture sleeves, magazines, books, and memorabilia. Browse singles and al… [read review or visit site]

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas pays homage to international female opera singers of the LP era. Chronicling more than 800 singers, the… [read review or visit site]

317X

317X

Despite its mysterious title, 317X is plain and simple—an online gallery of vintage LPs, with a 1950s vintage fee… [read review or visit site]

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

This great site, from the Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, offers detailed background information an… [read review or visit site]

The Remington Site

The Remington Site

Since 1999, the Remington Site has offered classical music collectors a glimpse into Remington Records, an independ… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

The Beatles * Please Please Me * Original 1963 Uk Mono Lp In Shop Fresh Mint- !The Beatles Please Please Me Lp Black & Gold Parlophone 1st Uk 1963 Dick JamesThe Beatles Help! 1st U.k Parlophone Stereo Album. Stunning Hardly Played!! The Beatles 1967-1970 Dbl 12" Vinyl Lp Blue Edition 1978 Uk Pressing - S98Beatles Revolver Lp Uk 1st Xex 606-1 + Indented Labels *holy Grail* Remix 11Beatles * Abbey Road * Original 1969 1st Press Uk Lp Pcs 7088 Nice Example !The Beatles Mono White Album Uk Lp 1st Press Black Inners/poster/photos Low No.The Beatles - Revolver Lp Uk Original Factory Sample Sticker Pmc 7009 Lovely!Beatles ‎– Abbey Road 1st Press Misprint W/o Her Majesty & Misaligned Logo - C61The Beatles, Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band 1967 1st Issue Wide Spine 1g The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Lp 1st Uk Press Complete +promoThe Beatles 1969 Uk Export Vinyl Album Abbey Road With Gold Odeon StickersThe Beatles - E.p. Collection Box Set Of All 15 7" Ep's 1981 Rare!Beatles Love Me Do Uk 1st Red Label 7 Inch Single Mpzt Tax Code *stunning*George Harrison 3x Lp All Things Must Pass Uk Apple 1st Press Uk Poster BeatlesBeatles Magical Mystery Tour Uk 1st Double 7 Inch Blue Lyrics *stunning*The Beatles For Sale * 1st Press * 1964 Uk Mono Lp Early -4n -3n & Early CoverThe Beatles-sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band-1st Press Mono 1967 -1l/1aThe Beatles White Album Vinyl 1968 Lp Record Pmc 7067 Top Opener No. 0088201The Beatles, Picture Sleeve, Strawberry Fields/penny Lane.Beatles Sgt Pepper 1st Uk Press Mono *wide Spine* Cutout/swirl Inner *stunning*The Beatles Abbey Road Lp Uk Apple 1969 First PressingThe Beatles - Rubber Soul Lp Uk Original Factory Sample Pmc 1267 Superb Audio!Beatles 1967 Mono Uk Parlophone Lp - Sgt. Peppers Omits Day In The LifeThe Beatles - White Album - Uk Later Lp Press W/photos/booklet - Not Numbered NmBeatles For Sale Lp Uk 1st Stereo Factory Sample Matrix Error 1/1 Pcs 3062Beatles 1967 Uk Mono Parlophone Lp - Sgt. Peppers - Fourth / 4th Proof Sleeve !The Beatles Rubber Soul Vinyl AlbumThe Beatles ~ Magical Mystery Tour ** 1967 Parlophone Dbl Ep Mint-The Beatles - Please Please Me, Rare 33 1/3rd 3rd Press, Vinyl Superb ConditionBeatles - Strawberry Fields Forever 7" Single Picture Slv Solid Factory SampleThe Beatles, John Lennon, "nobody Told Me" 1984 One Sided White Label Promo 45.Beatles - All You Need Is Love 7" Single No Tv Reference Factory Sample StickerBeatles Magical Mystery Tour Ep Superb Uk Mono 1st Issue Parlophone Mmt-a1Beatles Collection / Job Lot Pic.slves X 16 Mint.The Beatles ~ Beatles For Sale No.2 ** 1964 Parlophone Ep2 Beatles Mono 7" E.p.'s - For Sale (1965) & Hits (1963) In Picture Sleeves VgTony Sheridan & The Beatles - My Bonnie 1961 Uk 45 PolydorThe Beatles *sgt Peppers Lonely Herats Club Band* 1978 Uk Ps Original 7" By The Beatles - Ain't She Sweet....polydor Nh 52317.The Beatles Yellow Submarine George Harrison - Faster 1979 Uk 45 Dark Horse Picture Disc The BeatlesThe Beatles ~ The Beatles No.1 ** 1963 Parlophone EpThe Beatles - The Saints/my Bonnie. 1964 Japan Rare 7" (mistake) 45. Dp1351. Ex+John Lennon - Whatever Gets You Thru' The Night 1974 Uk 45 Apple DemoThe Beatles ~ Beatles For Sale ** 1964 Parlophone LpThe Beatles - I Should Have Known Better. 1964 Japan 7" 1st Red 45. Or1139. VgThe Beatles - The Beatles White Album. Vinyl Lp. 1st Press. Top Loader. NumberedThe Beatles - Ain't She Sweet. 1964 Japan Rare 7" 1st Press 45. Dp1369. G+The Beatles - Beatles For Sale No.2. 1970 Japan 7" 1st Press Ep. Ap4576. Ex+Mary Hopkin (the Beatles) - The Best Of - German Lp On Apple LabelThe Beatles Can't Buy Me Love Orig March 1964 Us Picture Sleeve 45 Vg+ Ps 5150Rarest Paul Mccartney 45 Apple Promo #pro-6787 - Country Dreamer Beatles - 'white Album' 1968 Uk  *stereo* Very Rare (2) Lp Complete Set Mfsl Beatles White Album 2 Lp Mofi Original Master Factory Sealed!The Beatles Introducing The Beatles Original Factory Sealed LpThe Beatles Collection Vinyl Record Set *limited Edition And Still In Plastic*Paul Mccartney Mccartney Lp Very 1st Uk Press 1970~maitrix 2u~2u Unplayed MintLove Me Do / P.s. I Love You Introducing The Beatles Version 1The Beatles From Me To You/ Thank You Girl 45 Rare Wlp Promo 1963 Vee Jay Vj 522