Epstein & the ‘Love Me Do’ Mountain

By Bill Harry  

Brian Epstein"Brian Epstein bought thousands of copies of the single for his own shop to help tilt the chart position - a maneuver called 'padding' that is still practiced.'

Tim Riley, 'Tell Me Why.'

When 'Love Me Do' was released, there were rumours that Brian Epstein had bought boxes of copies. I neither believed nor disbelieved at the time; the Liverpool scene was rife with gossip, much of it to be dismissed.

As with all rumors, they became exaggerated as they passed from one person to another. At one moment it seemed as if he had bought a few boxes of records to cater to the anticipated demand locally, which was a sensible thing to do, on the other hand there were rumours of a roomful of records. It got out of all proportion when someone suggested he might have bought up to 1,000 records. Years later, when the myth appeared in Peter Brown's book, it had grown to 10,000:

"He (Epstein) unblinkingly ordered 10,000 copies of 'Love Me Do' for NEMS, a magic number he thought would automatically land it a place on the British charts."

Frankly, even if that sky-high figure were sold in his Whitechapel and Great Charlotte Street shops, the record could not have entered the Top 20 charts from sales in a single city.

The chart positions were decided on a 'weighing basis', which excluded an uneven sales barometer from one outlet. Adamantly denying that he had bought the disc in bulk to force it into the charts, Brian told writer Ray Coleman, "I did no such thing, nor ever have. The Beatles progressed and succeeded on natural impetus without benefit of stunt or backdoor tricks."

The official British chart was run by the trade magazine Record Retailer, although the music papers ran their individual charts, the most respected one being run by the New Musical Express. Both journals compiled their charts by having a number of record shops throughout the country that they contacted for sales positions. They varied the particular shops each week to prevent people going round the same shops to buy up discs in order to hype their way into the charts. They would phone a certain number of shops and ask for the sales positions of their records. They would then compile their charts from that information.

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