Xref: menudo.uh.edu rec.music.compose:776 rec.music.beatles:10309
Re: The Fab's song ownership<BR>

Re: The Fab's song ownership

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References: <1992Oct7.020107.9359@netcom.com> <1992Oct7.042740.8794@galileo.cc.rochester.edu> <1992Oct7.155741.18170@menudo.uh.edu>

In article <1992Oct7.155741.18170@menudo.uh.edu> edc@franklin.bchs.uh.edu (edward s. chen) writes: >In article <1992Oct7.042740.8794@galileo.cc.rochester.edu> jwlr@gauguin.cc.rochester.edu (James Willer) writes:
>>ladasky@netcom.com (John J. Ladasky II) writes:
>>Paul McCartney never *owned* the all that stuff! John and Paul signed away
>>the rights to Northern Songs early on, and Paul was negotiating with Yoko
>>(as John's estate) to buy the rights to the Maclen catalog when it was
>>bought out from under them by MJ. (Paul has since declared that there was
>>some kind of 'insider stuff/secret deal' between MJ and Yoko.)
>No! To my knowledge, Paul has never "since declared...'insider stuff/secret
>deal' between Wacko Jacko and Yoko." He has made a point of saying "I think
>there may have been something going on, look at the evidence and make up your
>own mind."
>To avoid the obvious question, the chronology goes something like this.
>1) Catalog becomes available
>2) Paul decides he wants to buy it, but asks Yoko in, since it is the
> "Lennon / McCartney" catalog
>3) Yoko agrees
>4) Yoko backs out at (nearly) the last minute. Paul is unable to raise enough
> cash quick enough, Jacko buys the catalog.

The prehistory of item 1) is especially complicated. Lest anyone think the Fabs naturally and inevitably owned their own songs outright and were somehow too preoccupied to recognize the bonanza, we might expand the scenario as simply as possible:

  1. Dick James, friend to George Martin and a song publisher in London, originated Northern Songs to house the Beatles' compositions in 1963. The Boys owned only a portion of this company, as did Brian Epstein. The major owner was Dick James and his partner Emanuel Silver, who owned 50%. It was common for composers to own less than a majority of their publishing rights in 1963, when the company was set up, though now this sounds absurd to us and most present-day composers have more generous arrangements.
  2. Northern Songs went from private status in 1966, meaning that stockholders could invest.
  3. James declared that he was worried about the future of the Lennon/ McCartney songwriting team in the late '60's (as well he might be, having profits in mind), especially after the Fabs became more avant-garde and hired Allen Klein as manager. Although James had previously promised the Boys he'd never sell his own stock, he decided to do so in 1969.
  4. Associated Television (ATV) bought James' share and much of the rest from existing stockholders. Lennon & McCartney tried to buy back enough stock to give themselves a majority, but with Macca getting poor advice from his in-laws (the Eastmans) and John insulting "the men in suits" from whom he wished to buy, they got nowhere. ATV acquired the controlling share and John and Paul gradually relinquished their rights by selling them back to ATV in 1969-70.
  5. After some years (over twenty) there was a substantial payment made to the estate of Lennon and to McCartney himself (about 2 million pounds sterling) by ATV's new parent company, Associated Communications Corporation (ACC). ACC also increased the songwriters' royalties. Perhaps this was a prequel to ACC/ATV putting the whole catalog of L&M songs up for sale in 1984. In addition to Paul, Yoko, and Michael Jackson's bids, other contenders included CBS, Coca-Cola, Lawrence Welk's publisher, EMI, and "other private and commercial interests".

Paul may have been dealt a dirty deal by Yoko, if she promised to assist and then reneged, but there's no documentation, as Paul notes. I've always felt that the question of Paul being unable to come up with the cash was slightly out of the realm of possibility, but I don't know, really, how severely tangled was his financial picture in 1984. I also don't know for certain (maybe there's evidence for this?) that Paul pulled his bid when Yoko failed to back him. I recall that Paul's bid based on available cash was simply topped by Jackson; in fact I recall dimly some interviews with Paul at the time wherein he confessed that he was outbid. Perhaps he was instead, rather unnecessarily, protecting Yoko with this story?

It's also worth noting that in 1985 George, Ringo and Yoko filed suit against Paul for breach of contract, the story being that Paul was earning more royalties from Beatles' records (perhaps accomplished via some secret dealing on Macca's part) than were the others.

Someday this story will make a great book....

"The Lana Sisters, clad in pink, added a welcome feminine flavour. 'Much better than those Beatles' I heard one gentleman remark."

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