More from year 1969
The Beatles’s business difficulties
Jan 22, 1968
Mar 29, 1968
Apr 19, 1968
June 20-25, 1968
Aug 11, 1968
Mar 21, 1969
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On January 10, 1969, George Harrison had walked out from the “Get Back” sessions at Twickenham Studios. Also, it had recently become obvious for Apple’s management team and therefore for The Beatles that the company was bleeding money and the situation was becoming unsustainable.
On this Sunday, the four Beatles met at Ringo Starr’s house in Weybridge to discuss the personal and business problems in the band. They were not alone as they were joined by some other people like Yoko Ono, Linda Eastman, Paul’s soon-to-become-wife, and her daughter Heather. Also, various accountants and John Eastman, brother of Linda Eastman were there for the business side of things.
Details of those meetings are limited and mostly come from the dialogues recorded during the Get Back session the day after, on January 13.
Linda: It’s harder being at a meeting and everybody putting their two cents in, and none of you all saying anything.
Paul: But that’s the other thing, having the meeting. You came with me, and [Linda’s daughter] Heather came.
Linda: Yeah, I was going to say I shouldn’t go.
Paul: It’s such a temptation going out to Ringo’s for the afternoon. It feels like a family outing. (said to laughter)
Paul: It should have been the four of us.
Ringo: Well you (Linda) were out of the way. It nearly was.
Paul: It’s still that thing.
Linda: When there’s something serious, a few other people talking about it, and you get off the tracks.Transcript of dialogue from the “Get Back” session, on January 13, 1969 – From Jan. 12: A family outing (Pt. 1) | They May Be Parted
On personal matters, things didn’t go that well, as George Harrison left early without agreeing to rejoin The Beatles.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg: Did George stay?”
Paul McCartney: Well, in the middle of all that, actually, George went. He said, ‘I’ll see you.’Transcript of dialogue from the “Get Back” session, on January 13, 1969 – From Jan. 12: A family outing (Pt. 1) | They May Be Parted
Paul McCartney: See, I’m just assuming [George]’s coming back, you know? I’ll tell you, I’m just assuming he’s coming back.
John Lennon: What if he isn’t?
Paul McCartney: If he isn’t, then it’s a new problem.Transcript of dialogue from the “Get Back” session, on January 13, 1969 – From Jan. 12: A family outing (Pt. 2) | They May Be Parted
Mal Evans, in the diary he published in the March 1969 edition of the Beatles Monthly Book, noted that January 12 is the date when “the fellows finally gave up all idea of doing the TV show“.
Certainly, we wanted sunshine and if we had to do the filming outdoors the British winter weather couldn’t be relied upon. Michael [Lindsay-Hogg] and producer Denis O’Dell knew an old Roman theatre on a shore in Tripoli which sounded just the thing. But that one had to be blown out too. On Monday, January 13, I was due to fly over to Africa to look at the Roman theatre. On Sunday, January 12, the fellows finally gave up all idea of doing the TV show.Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°68, March 1969
It was like, no, no, no. Wait a minute, wait a minute. George has left and, you know, we can’t have this, this isn’t good enough! So I’m not sure what happened. I think maybe Neil [Aspinall] or one of the ones who looked after us probably rung George up and said: “They’re real sorry,” or whatever, “it was a real big mistake.”Paul McCartney – Quoted in Classic Rock, May 2020
The four Beatles would meet again three days later at Apple’s headquarters, 3 Savile Row, and George would finally accept rejoin the band.
It’s not clear what was discussed on the business side of things.
In January 1969, The Beatles, at the initiative of Paul McCartney, started to look for a new manager for Apple. But quite quickly, Paul was convinced that Lee Eastman, father of Linda Eastman and his future father-in-law, should be put in control of The Beatles’ financial affairs. Lee Eastman indeed had the relevant experience, being a New York-based attorney with some experience with music copyrights.
Paul had been agitating for some time for a new manager for Apple. He was fed up with the way that the company was being run and he asked his future father-in-law, Lee, to recommend someone to put the house in order. Lee, of course, recommended his son, John.Nat Weiss – Beatles attorney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman
John Eastman then came up with the idea of buying NEMS, the company of The Beatles’ former manager, Brian Epstein.
I saw Clive Epstein immediately. I told him, ‘Look, you can’t get the money out of the company to pay estate taxes, so why don’t we buy NEMS and you’ll get the money as a capital gain. Forget the twenty-five per cent (NEMS’ entitlement of Beatles’ royalties). What’s the company worth? Eight-hundred-thousand pounds? Nine-hundred-thousand pounds? Forget it, we won’t quibble, we’ll give you a million!John Eastman – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman
The “They May Be Parted” blog speculates that, on this day, The Beatles may have signed the following document:
It’s feasible the Sunday meeting is when this document — which is only dated “January 1969” — was signed, giving the Eastman & Eastman law firm rights to negotiate contracts on the Beatles’ behalf. The timing works out — John Eastman was working on a deal for the successor company to NEMS less than a week later.
If only to justify what Ringo described as “a lot of good things” coming of the meeting, the business aspect must have pointed to a positive development.
Also on this day, John C. Winn, in his book “That Magic Feeling: 2 (The Beatles’ Recorded Legacy)“, mentioned that Paul McCartney attended a recording session (likely in the evening) at EMI Studios for the Scaffold’s “L the P” album, but didn’t contribute to the recordings.
Last updated on February 24, 2022
"With greatly expanded text, this is the most revealing and frank personal 30-year chronicle of the group ever written. Insider Barry Miles covers the Beatles story from childhood to the break-up of the group."
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