By RICH FOLEY
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth (or maybe it was just during the Nixon administration), my much-older sister was disposing of her record album collection. I claimed her copies of “Meet The Beatles” and “Introducing The Beatles,” leaving the bulk of her accumulation of artists such as Ed Ames, The Kingston Trio, etc., to someone else.
I also grabbed three Beatles singles from her hoard, plus Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction.” The rest of the Fabian, Frankie Avalon and similar dregs I again passed on.
Many, many years later, my friend Dan was getting into the buying and selling of records in a big way. When I mentioned that I had the old Beatles recordings, he asked to have a look at them.
He was very interested in buying my “Meet The Beatles” album, but had no use for “Introducing The Beatles,” claiming that there was a stain on the cover. When he pointed it out to me, I looked it over well, but couldn’t find any evidence that the “stain” had soaked through to the inside of the cover or changed the surface smoothness in any way.
I asked if he was sure that it just wasn’t George Harrison’s shadow, since he was the Beatle standing next to the “stain.” Dan replied that his own copy was clean, so obviously mine had picked up the flaw somehow over the years.
Since I was trying to sell all the Beatles recordings as a group, Dan passed on the deal, not wanting that nasty, stained “Introducing” album.
Over the years, he would ask about buying “Meet The Beatles,” which he admitted was in fabulous condition, then make a joke about the “Introducing” album. Obviously, this deal wasn’t going to happen easily, and, in fact, hadn’t been discussed in several years.
Sadly, Dan passed away a few months ago, and when the Beatles collection surfaced again recently, I decided to place an ad for the entire group. I would need to find a new buyer if I were ever to dispose of the lot, and decided to ask $75 for everything.
A day or so after the first ad came out, I got a call from a record collector in Toledo. He asked what record companies had issued the three singles and told me that I had the more obscure versions in all three cases. He added that I could probably get $75 for the singles alone if I took them to a record show.
He then asked several questions about the “Introducing” album to determine if I had one of the really rare versions of it. Dan had mentioned the rare versions years ago, so I was fairly certain I didn’t have one. The collector confirmed that, and passed on the deal since he was truly a collector and already had everything I was selling.
The following day, another collector called, and the conversation soon turned into an inquisition. He told me “the Mafia” had printed millions of counterfeit copies of the “Introducing” album and few authentic ones existed.
After answering 15 or 20 questions, he finally admitted it sounded like I had a real copy, which he said was probably worth about $200. He added that I could call him back if I still wanted to sell everything for $75. It sounded like a good deal...for him.
After all this information, I decided to do some more research before selling anything. Sure enough, I found an Internet site with a eight-page explanation of all the versions of what they called the world’s most counterfeited album. Not only is there an “endless array” of bogus albums (although none were blamed on the Mafia), but over 30 different authentic versions were produced by Vee-Jay Records in 1963-64. That explained all the questions from the second caller.
The site had a long list of common characteristics of original and counterfeit versions and I was shocked to see “COVERS WITHOUT GEORGE HARRISON’S SHADOW-VISIBLE TO HIS RIGHT...ARE FAKES.” After all these years, I had proof that it was George’s shadow and not a stain on my album. What’s more, Dan’s album didn’t have the “stain” because it was a fake, not because it was in better condition than mine.
Of course, Dan isn’t around to feel my wrath over his years-long criticism of my album. I can only hope that by now, the late Mr. Harrison has explained to him that he indeed had a shadow and was not a mere stain. I’m still left with one question, though. I wonder if Dan ever sold his phony album to anyone?– March 28, 2007