The Beatles on Parlophone in Belgium

The label

In Belgium, Gramophone chose an "old style" label with black background and silver lettering. This design was used for all Beatles singles manufactured in Belgium during the 1960s. Only three minor design changes occurred during this period.

In the UK, and in most other European countries, singles were manufactured with removable "pop-out" centres or with small centre holes. In contrast, all Belgian Beatles singles had large centre holes.

The Belgian Parlophone label is divided into three sections

The upper section has the word 'PARLOPHONE' arched around the centre hole. The outer perimeter print reads "The Parlophone Co. Ltd. - All rights of the Manufacturer and of the Owner of the recorded work reserved." Starting with "Help!" / "I'm Down" (Parlophone R5305), the first part of this text was changed to "The Gramophone Co. Ltd". This change was made in the summer of 1965 when not only Parlophone, but all EMI companies in Europe began using the parent name of "The Gramophone Co. Ltd". "Help!" / "I'm Down" can be found with both label styles, suggesting that either the change from "The Parlophone Co." to "The Gramophone Co." was made while the production of "Help!" had already started, or that the printers used up their remaining stock first.

The middle section of the label is separated from the rest by two horizontal bars.
To the left of the centre hole, the symbols "K.A" appear, most often in a box. These symbols are the abbreviation for "Keep Account". This indicates that the record company does not know (or did not bother to find out) who owns the publishing rights to the recorded work.

For the last Belgian Beatles single on Parlophone ("Lady Madonna" / "The Inner Light" - R5675) this abbreviation is changed to "BIEM". This stands for the international music copyright organisation "Bureau International des Sociétés Gérant des Droits d'Enregistrement et de Reproduction Méchanique", established in 1928.

To the right of the centre hole we find the well-known logo, surrounded by the words "TRADE MARK".

Note that the Parlophone logo is not a "pound sterling" sign, as commonly assumed, but a German L. In 1927, the Gramophone Company had purchased the Parlophone label from Carl Lindström.

Starting with "Ticket To Ride" / "Yes It Is" (Parlophone- R5265) the words "Made in Belgium" are added in this section.

In the middle of the lower section we find (from top to bottom) the song title, the authors and the performers. All text is fully capitalised except for the author's credit.
On the left, the matrix number of the recording is printed. On the right we find the release number of the record.
The outer perimeter print in this area reads "Unauthorised public performance, broadcasting and copying of this record prohibited."


The sleeve

Apart from the company sleeves, it was common practice for all record companies in Belgium to produce their own picture sleeves for the singles they issued. As in other countries on the continent, the Belgian market required a sleeve showing the artist(s). In the UK, singles normally were distributed in company sleeves only. By The Beatles, only "Penny Lane" / "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Let It Be" / "You Know My Name" were originally issued with a picture sleeve in the UK.

The typical Belgian 1960s picture sleeve is printed in three colours and consists of one sheet of paper twice the size of a single, folded down the middle, in a plastic bag. Both sides of the sleeve are identical and show a picture or drawing of The Beatles, the group's name, both song titles, the release number and a very characteristic logo. This logo, also used in other countries such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden, consists of a rectangle divided into two equal parts. The right side has the EMI logo with the text "The greatest recording organisation in the world". The box on the left shows the Parlophone logo and the text "Trade mark of the Parlophone Co. Ltd. - One of the EMI group of companies".
Starting with "All You Need Is Love", this text was changed to "Trade mark of the Gramophone Co. Ltd." etc.
At the same time, the black background to this part of the logo disappeared and the corners of the logo-box became rounded.

Belgian picture sleeves for locally pressed singles were produced by printers like Werla in Mechelen or De Jonge, Van Neck and Arte-Print in Brussels.
But unlike the Belgian sleeves of other record companies, EMI sleeves never mentioned the name of the printer.

Benoît Huyssens recalls how he used to lay out sleeves for EMI artists such as Salvatore Adamo, French rocker Dick Rivers, Richard Anthony, Julien Clerc and ... The Beatles. He worked at his desk, in the marketing department of EMI in Brussels. "We used whatever pictures or drawings were available, cut and pasted them together, adding the artist's name and song titles in Letraset. I don't remember any instructions or interference from the UK. We just did what we thought was best for our market. Most often, we would print more sleeves than we pressed records. That explains why it is not uncommon to find records made in Holland, France or the UK in a Belgian sleeve."