A demo tape by The Beatles overlooked by Decca records - considered 'the biggest mistake in music history' - is to be sold at auction. Recorded on New Year's Day in 1961, the tape features 10 cover versions but record label man Dick Rowe passed on the Liverpool group and signed The Tremeloes instead.

Of course, The Beatles went on to sign for EMI and became the most popular band in the world. The tape is being auctioned in London on Tuesday by the Fame Bureau with an asking price of £30,000, though that does not give the buyer rights to the tracks. "Apple, the company set up by The Beatles, holds the copyright to their voices and if anyone tried to release the material without their permission they would certainly be sued," said Fame Bureau managing director Ted Owen, "This has never officially been released. It is unique and the sound quality is crystal clear. We have spoken to various experts and this is the best quality recording of this session there is." The tape features Paul McCartney on bass, George Harrison on lead guitar, John Lennon on rhythm and Pete Best on drums, who was later sacked and replaced by Ringo Starr

The tape - still said to be in good condition - is marked as 'The Silver Beatles', the group's former name, and features a black and white image of the group wearing leather jackets.