Life after debt: A Beatles bailout for MJ | music | Hindustan Times
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Life after debt: A Beatles bailout for MJ

music Updated: Jul 08, 2009 01:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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It wasn’t quite the Michael Jackson farewell show his fans were waiting for. But on Tuesday night, 12 days after his death, thousands of screaming fans thronged a mega-show at the Los Angeles Staples Center.

It had everything — live broadcast around the world, celebrity presence, elephants. Instead of the cancelled ‘This Is It’ tour, this was it.

Approximately 17,500 fans attended the memorial concert that had Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Lionel Richie and John Mayer paying musical homage to MJ. This was a free show. But Jackson’s family could have done with ticket sales – especially with his ledgers showing about $ 500 million in debts. A Los Angeles court has appointed Jackson’s attorney and a family friend as administrators of his $ 500 million estate over the objections of his mother, Katherine. Their authority could expire on August 3, with another hearing.

There is one precious card Jackson kept up his sleeve for such a ‘rainy day’: the music of the Beatles.

In 1963, the Beatles sold their publishing rights to Northern Songs, a company created by their manager. In 1965, Northern Songs went public with John Lennon and Paul McCartney having 15 per cent each of the shares. Four years later, Northern Songs was sold to the Associated Television Corporation (ATV). In 1985, Jackson paid $ 47.5 million to own ATV Music. A total of 259 songs written by Lennon and McCartney became his. In 1995, MJ merged ATV with Sony’s library of songs, owning a 50 per cent stake in the Sony-ATV Music Publishing catalogue. If anyone wanted to do a cover version of Strawberry Fields Forever, Jackson would have to be paid a cut.

In 2001, MJ had said that the Beatles catalogue was not for sale . But for the last few years, there was speculation he’d sell. Strangely though, he recorded only one Lennon-McCartney number himself: Come Together featured in his album History.