Is Your Copy of Let It Be Real or is it a Fake?

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles - Let It Be
The front cover of The Beatles "Let It Be" LP. Apple Corps Ltd.

Did you know that in the USA The Beatles' Let It Be (their twelfth and final LP release) was one of the most counterfeited vinyl records of all time? Before we examine how to tell if your copy is real or a fake, let's look at the release in detail. Here we have the front cover of the album. It came out on May 8, 1970.  

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles - Let It Be. Rear cover.
The rear cover of The Beatles' "Let It Be" LP. Apple Corps Ltd.

This is the rear cover. All the photographs used throughout the album packaging are by Ethan Russell.  

03
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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles'
In the USA, The Beatles "Let It Be" was a gatefold cover. This is the left side of the open cover. Apple Corps Ltd.

In the USA the album was shipped in a nice gatefold cover. Inside were photographs taken while the band rehearsed and recorded songs for the album. They were also filming proceedings for the film Let It Be.

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles'
Images of The Beatles working in the studio - from the right side of the gatefold cover. Apple Corps Ltd.

When you open the US gatefold cover it contains photographs of The Beatles working on the Let It Be album. (In the UK the album was released in a deluxe box set and came with a glossy, thick book with many more photographs taken during the recording sessions by Ethan Russell, along with dialogue from the film).  

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles'
This is a close up of the front cover of a legitimate copy of the album. Apple Corps Ltd.

To help begin to identify if you have a legitimate US pressing (or a fake) we need to look at a number of key identifying elements on the cover, and also on the record itself. The first of the telltale signs is on the front cover. This is a close-up of the image of George Harrison. Notice how it is clear and the skin tones of his face are natural. This is a genuine copy of the Let It Be LP. 

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles
A close-up of a fake copy of the "Let It Be" LP. Apple Corps Ltd.

Notice the difference between this close-up of George Harrison and the previous slide. This is a fake copy of the LP. You can see that the skin tones are grainy and do not look natural at all. Also, the white borders around each photograph are wider on the counterfeit copy than on the original.  

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be Real or a Fake?

The Beatles'
The red Apple logo on a legitimate copy of the LP. Apple Corps Ltd.

The Let It Be album was actually a soundtrack album to the film of the same name, and so in the US the record was being distributed by the United Artists company (not Capitol Records). To signify this in the US they gave it red Apple logos on the rear cover (and also on the labels). This is a close-up of the red Apple on the rear cover and it's how a genuine copy of the record should look.  

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles'
This is how the red Apple looks on a counterfeit copy of "Let It Be". Apple Corps Ltd.

This is a close-up of the logo on a counterfeit copy. Notice that the Apple is quite dark and very red. 

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles'
The red Apple label on a genuine copy of the LP. Apple Corps Ltd.

Now we turn to the vinyl record. There are a number of key indicators that will tell you if your copy is real, or a fake. Firstly, those red Apple labels. This is Side 1 of a genuine pressing of the LP. Notice that the Apple is a rich red color and the background is dark. Depending on which US pressing plant they were made some labels will have a glossy look, others not so. But they should all be rich in color like this one.   

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles'
This is a fake copy of the "Let It Be" LP. Note how washed-out the printing of the labels looks. Apple Corps Ltd.

By contrast the labels on the counterfeit look pale and washed out. The quality of the printing is just not there. It is the same for Side 2, where there should be the "cut" Apple labels. The labels on both sides look poorly printed and dull.  

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles'
Genuine copies of "Let It Be" should have this stamp in the vinyl near the labels. It says Bell Sound. Apple Corps Ltd.

For the next clues you will need to look closely at your LP because all of the clues are small and located in the "run-out" area of the vinyl record, near the labels. This first view is the very best proof that you have a legitimate copy. You should be able to see a stamp made into the vinyl that says the words “Bell Sound”. It's quite small and should be on both sides. Fake copies of the record just don't have this stamp. Genuine Let It Be pressings were mastered by a US company called Bell Sound. They were done by a technician named Sam Feldman, and so you can also see his initials “sf” scratched into the vinyl just near the Bell Sound stamp. 

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles
There should be a tiny, triangular "IAM" stamp also in the vinyl near the label. Apple Corps Ltd.

Genuine US copies of Let It Be should also have a tiny triangular symbol stamped in the run-out area. Inside the triangle are the letters "IAM". This stands for the International Association of Machinists Union whose workers ran the record pressing plants. It should be a proper stamp, not a drawing. Also, there could be other small markings present in the run-out area. These are to distinguish which US pressing plant Capital Records used to manufacture the vinyl. For example L.A. used a six-pointed asterisk, Jacksonville a stamped 0 (or hand-etched O), and Winchester used what was meant to look like a Winchester rifle, but is more like a wineglass tipped on its side · -<|

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles'
This is a fake copy of "Let It Be". The triangular IAM stamp is drawn on the vinyl. Apple Corps Ltd.

The fakers tried to imitate the "IAM" stamp, but it looks like a crude drawing compared to the proper triangular stamp that's on genuine copies. You can see an example of a fake in this image. 

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles'
The words "Phil + Ronnie" scratched into the run-out area of the vinyl. This is how it looks on a genuine copy. Apple Corps Ltd.

Lastly, Sam Feldman (the mastering technician at Bell Sound) also scratched the words "Phil + Ronnie" into the run-out area of the vinyl. "Phil" was for Phil Spector, who ended up producing the Let It Be LP for the Beatles. "Ronnie" is for singer Ronnie Spector, his wife at the time. On legitimate copies of the record it looks like what you can see here. 

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Is Your Copy of "Let It Be" Real or a Fake?

The Beatles'
A fake copy of "Let It Be". The words "Phil + Ronnie" are there, but not the same style as legitimate copies. Apple Corps Ltd.

Non-legit copies of Let It Be also have the words “Phil + Ronnie” scratched into the vinyl by the fakers, but the hand-writing looks different and is much smaller. 

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Your Citation
Rasmussen, Anthony. "Is Your Copy of Let It Be Real or is it a Fake?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/is-your-copy-of-let-it-be-real-or-fake-3219915. Rasmussen, Anthony. (2016, August 22). Is Your Copy of Let It Be Real or is it a Fake? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/is-your-copy-of-let-it-be-real-or-fake-3219915 Rasmussen, Anthony. "Is Your Copy of Let It Be Real or is it a Fake?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/is-your-copy-of-let-it-be-real-or-fake-3219915 (accessed November 21, 2017).