(with great apologies to The Beatles!)



For nearly 30 years, millions of Beatles fans around the world have been hoping for the release of four unreleased Beatles recordings. Songs so rare that they have been regarded as the ‘Holy Grail’ of Beatles music. Many major books on the Beatles list them as among the most sought-after titles. And scores of Internet websites run by hard-core Beatles fans list the songs and refer to their extreme rarity.

The song titles are:


But now the Beatles world is being rocked with the news that the four songs never existed! That they were just the result of a mischievous throwaway teenage prank. Adding irony to the mix - the 1971 prank was the work of someone who has in recent years become one of the world’s leading Beatles historians!

And - adding a final amusing twist to the story - in a manner reminiscent of the famous 1969 “Paul is Dead” hoax - many Beatles fans who have recently been informed of the hoax still seem reluctant to believe that the songs don’t exist!

Hollywood-based British humorist and TV personality - MARTIN LEWIS - who is also a widely acknowledged Beatles authority - has confessed to being the culprit. The confession is the centerpiece of his new autobiographical one-man show (aptly titled “Great Exploitations!”) which received its world premiere in a Los Angeles theater on Saturday January 9, 1999.

In the wryly-comedic reminiscence, Lewis reveals how as a very young music journalist in London in the early ‘70’s - he inserted the titles of four of his own Beatle-esque teenage compositions into an otherwise scholarly article on Beatles rarities he wrote for a respected British music periodical - Disc & Music Echo. His action at the time was just a little fun - and a way to pad out an article which he felt needed more song titles. He never anticipated what would follow.

But that throwaway gag has grown into a monster that won’t go away. Many years later Lewis discovered that other writers and authors had incorporated the erroneous information into their own listings of rare unreleased Beatles tracks. Several books have featured fictitious embellishments to Lewis’s original information - mentioning instrumentation and recording dates! One respected author’s Beatles book - which boasted chapter titles named after Beatles rarities - used three of Lewis’s fake titles as chapter headings!

Stephen Peeples - a very respected producer and researcher of “The Lost Lennon Tapes” - a Yoko Ono-sanctioned American radio series documenting unreleased John Lennon material - told Lewis that he had spent 5 years searching through Lennon’s unmarked tapes looking for one of the elusive songs - “Colliding Circles”!

Adding further mischief to the mixture, Lewis was indirectly responsible for planting additional ‘clues’ just two years ago - which further convinced fans of the existence of the fake songs.

Humorist Lewis (who in the 70’s and 80’s produced all the “Secret Policeman’s Ball” movies, shows and albums with Monty Python) conceived and executive-produced the 1996 reunion of Python-esque Beatles spoofsters - The Rutles. Their lampoon of the Beatles “Anthology” albums - “Archaeology” - was written by chief Rutle and Python songman, Neil Innes. Knowing of Lewis’ playful 1971 fabrications - Innes paid tribute to the jape by incorporating the titles of the four long-sought-after Beatles tracks into the lyrics of one of the album’s most mysterious songs - “Unfinished Words”.

Since all the Rutles’ songs (since their 1977 debut) have always affectionately played off real Beatle songs, titles and lyrics - this mischievous act perpetuated the mythology.

Lewis decided to reveal his 28 year-old teenage prank when he was commissioned to write and perform an autobiographical one-man show for a prestigious Los Angeles arts festival. (SOLO ‘99 - The Annual Festival Of One-Person Shows.)

Having first confessed the story to his longtime friend, Beatles producer Sir George Martin (who considered the whole story “magnificent fun!”) Lewis then wrote the show - which he premiered on Saturday January 9, 1999 at the “2100 Square Feet ” theater in L.A.

But Lewis first became aware of the reluctance of Beatles fans to accept the truth of his confession when he gave a workshop performance of the show at the annual official Beatles fan convention (“Beatlefest”) in Los Angeles two months ago - in late November 1998.

“I’d expected the fans to be a bit cross with me for having been responsible for benignly misleading them for 28 years. But to my surprise many of them had a different response. They refused to believe me! The more detail I gave them of my prank - the more they were convinced that I was making up my confession! One or two fans even told me that they knew of people who had claimed to have heard the rare recordings of songs that I know beyond any doubt don’t exist!”

Now that the story is public knowledge - (breaking in the Los Angeles Times - Sunday January 10th) a major debate is breaking out in the Beatles world - with fans dividing up between those who accept Lewis’s confession and those who believe the confession itself to be a hoax and who remain convinced that the songs do exist in a Beatles vault!

The Los Angeles Times wrote that the songs had “worked their way into legend.” The New York Post wrote that “Lewis’ ruse is the biggest Beatle hoax since the “Paul is dead” craze in the ‘60s!”

Because of his long-standing relationships and his continuing work in the Beatles world - Lewis was at great pains to confess his teenage prank to everyone within the Beatles inner circle prior to the story becoming public. Much to his relief - the reactions from family, friends and business associates - were identical to those of George Martin.

“It was marvelous. They all saw the humor in it. Everyone I told howled with laughter! Not that it was remotely planned - but the way this story developed was actually very much in the vein of Beatle-ish humor.. John was tweaking us fans with ‘Glass Onion’ back in 1968.”

Those wishing to hear the Rutles’ contribution to the hoax are directed to The Rutles’ album “Archaeology” - released by Virgin Records in November 1996. The song title is “Unfinished Words” (Track 6).

As the story of the hoax has spread worldwide since it was first revealed in January 1999 - fascinating stories have come to light about how the song titles have impacted pop culture. Some fans have reported having come across bootleg albums from the 1970’s on which enterprising bootleggers mentioned some of the fake titles on the packaging - as a come-on to would-be purchasers. Needless to say the actual songs were strangely absent from the records!

Having discovered that there was a 1968 demo by George Harrison of a song that happened to be titled “Circles” - some Beatles fans made an understandable leap of assumption that “Colliding Circles” was an early version of that song - even though there was no remote lyrical reference to any form of collision in Harrison’s song! (The existence of the 1968 Harrison demo was entirely unknown in 1971 when Lewis playfully ascribed a painfully-bad song he’d written in 1967 to the Beatles. And in any event - Lewis had attributed “Colliding Circles” to Lennon - a ‘fact’ which had been copied by most of the gulled Beatles authors.)

One of the most bemusing stories arises from Lewis surfing the Internet one day looking for his song titles. Having been told that many Beatles fan websites made reference to two of the titles in particular - Lewis was browsing through various sites to see the extent of his impromptu gag. To his surprise he came upon a radio playlist which reported having played songs titled “Colliding Circles” and “Pink Litmus Paper Shirt”!

Suitably intrigued, he researched and discovered that both songs were by a New Jersey-based singer-songwriter called R. Stevie Moore - who has a cult following which includes many influential rock critics. (Moore is the son of top Nashville session bass player, Bob Moore - who played with everyone from Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison to the Everly Brothers and Patsy Cline.)

Noticing that Moore had also recorded several Beatles covers, Lewis made an assumption which turned out to be true. R. Stevie Moore is indeed a major Beatles fan. Like many fans, he’d known of the song titles for many years - and had simply got fed up waiting for them to surface on a bootleg. So in 1985, he simply came up with his own brand new Beatlesque songs based on those two titles!

Lewis thoroughly approves. “Writing and recording the songs was absolutely in the spirit of my original throwaway moment. We fans love the Beatles so much - we pay homage with our contributions to the mythology. Stevie’s “Colliding Circles” and “Pink Litmus Paper Shirt” songs are terrific - and much, much better than the dire originals I wrote when I was 14!”

You can find out more about R. Stevie Moore and his connection to the Great Beatles Hoax by visiting his website

Lewis looks forward to hearing from Beatles fans with their own stories about his four fabricated Fab Four songs! And to the sceptics who claim that his confession is the hoax and that the songs really do exist - he has a simple message: “Send me the Beatles’ recordings of those songs! Otherwise - you’ll just have to listen to the music playing in my head!”

Click here for details of the
Martin Lewis one-man show revealing the hoax.

News stories and articles about the hoax

The Complete Martin Lewis Biography
Martin Lewis' Beatles Related History
The Martin Lewis Homepage

Copyright © 1999 Springtime!