The talent scout who turned down the Beatles has long been credited with committing the music industry's biggest gaffe.
But Dick Rowe's billion-dollar boo-boo has been beaten to the top spot on Blender magazine's list of the "20 biggest record company screw-ups of all time" by the failure of record companies to capitalize on the Internet.
The major labels took top dishonors for driving file-sharing service Napster out of business in 2001, instead of figuring out a way to make money from its tens of millions of users. The downloaders merely scattered to hundreds of other sites, and the industry has been in a tailspin ever since.
"The labels' campaign to stop their music from being acquired for free across the Internet has been like trying to cork a hurricane -- upward of a billion files are swapped every month on peer-to-peer networks," Blender said in the report, which appears in its newly published April issue.
Rowe came in at No. 2 for politely passing on the Beatles after the unpolished combo performed a disastrous audition in 1962. Beatles manager Brian Epstein later claimed the Decca Records executive had told him that "groups with guitars are on their way out," a comment that Rowe denied making. He went on to sign the Rolling Stones.