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All You Need is Love… and money.

Aside from all of the ideals from the 1960’s I think we all forget somethng. The Beatles are a big business.   They are like Disney.  They are a business entity.  They (meaning all parties involved….even the suits)  all want to make some money from the business of being Beatles.  For as much as the boys were about the ideals of the 1960’s, free love and the like, they were also all about making some money too.

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The Doors, the writer Joan Didion famously said, interested her because they were all about sex and death. Sex and death proved to be big for the Beatles, too, of course – but for them, the ruling facts of life were love and money. In their music, you’ll find a good deal more references to the former than you will to the latter. So far this year, however, it’s been hard not to notice that when the Fab Four’s name is mentioned, it’s been more often in the financial pages rather than the culture section.

This, evidently, has been a year in which Apple Corps Ltd, the organisation which looks after the Beatles’ legacy, has been putting its house in order. Never exactly slack at looking after business – you’ll find no stray Fabs songs devalued in adverts or movies; no confusing formatting and reformatting of familiar material – this year the company, with its high-powered US lawyers, has been seeking to get what is justly owed to them.

Not since 1962 have the Beatles been so synonymous with suits. In May this year, the band finally lost its court battle with Apple computing over whether the latter’s iTunes music service broke the terms of an earlier agreement not to be involved with “creative” enterprises. Of course, an appeal is underway, and no, the Beatles are still not on iTunes.

Just two weeks ago, the surviving band members began a suit for £13million against EMI, in a dispute over unpaid royalties and ownership of master tapes – a dispute which has rumbled intermittently since 1979. Meanwhile, the musical Love, which blossomed from the friendship between the late George Harrison and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, may be an exciting rendering of the band’s music, but it somehow retains the air of convenient moneyspinner, albeit a soundly endorsed one. And, obviously, no one can blame them.

Having nearly bankrupted themselves with the original Apple record label and its spin-offs, signed away as young men songwriting royalties whose value they can hardly been have expected to conceive, been subject to the 98% “super tax” which George Harrison’s Taxman berates, and having never made a penny off any Beatle talc, wig, comb or mug sold in that tiny principality, America, they have every reason to want to keep a close eye on accounts.

The fact remains, though, that if you only heard what they were up to in the news, however large the “Love” signs outside the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas advertising their show may be, the Beatles would today seem to be far more about the money. It’s perhaps the benefit of hindsight that made it ever seem like it was ever any other way.

When Eric Idle and Neil Innes made their late-1970s film about the Beatles-like Rutles – a satirical movie featuring George Harrison in a small role – they called it All You Need Is Cash, and it seemed like pretty funny, and irreverently shocking idea.

Maybe, though, the bottom line was never far from their minds. What’s perhaps most surprising about Beatles business these days is how, in spite of their vigilance, in one significant way, their guard has dropped. It might be that the Beatles was always a brand as much as a band. Crucially, it never really felt like that.

Source: UK Guardian


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