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Suitcase Yields Possible Beatles Trove

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LONDON (AP) _ All you need is luck. A vacationer who purchased a suitcase at an Australian flea market found a trove of Beatles memorabilia inside, including photos, concert programs and unreleased recordings, The Times newspaper reported Tuesday.

While the materials have yet to be authenticated, some experts believe the collection is the lost ``Mal Evans archive,'' originally belonging to the Beatles' roadie and sound recordist.

Evans was killed by police in Los Angeles in 1976 after he had brandished a fake gun. The contents of the suitcase were lost during the police investigation, The Times said.

Fraser Claughton, 41, from Tinkerton, England, found the suitcase in a small town outside of Melbourne, The Times said. Realizing the suitcase was not empty, he bought it for about $36.

``It's like finding the end of the rainbow in Australia,'' The Times quoted Claughton as saying. ``I spotted one tatty old suitcase, which frankly I wouldn't have given house room, but when I picked it up there was something in it.''

The 4 1/2 hour reel-to-reel tape recording includes John Lennon and Paul McCartney experimenting with alternative versions of some previously unrecorded tracks. The collection also includes previously unknown versions of new recordings of ``We Can Work It Out'' and ``Cry Baby Cry.''

The tapes, labeled ``Abbey Road... not for release,'' will be evaluated by the Beatles' record label, Apple, and examined by experts to determine their origin and authenticity.

``With the exception of (two tracks) it sounds very exciting indeed,'' memorabilia consultant and Beatles specialist Peter Doggett told The Times.

A spokeswoman for Christie's said while the auction house has had no contact with the collection as of yet, there is ``Beatles memorabilia in every pop memorabilia sale _ it's very popular.''

In 1998, a notebook compiled by Evans, containing draft lyrics for ``Hey Jude'' and ``Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,'' sold for $185,000 at a London auction.

A year earlier, McCartney obtained an injunction to prevent Evans' widow from selling a scrap of paper with the original lyrics to ``With a Little Help From My Friends.''
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