The trial for the dissolution of The Beatles’ contractual partnership – Day 3

Tuesday, February 23, 1971

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On the third day of the Court Case for the dissolution of The Beatles’ contractual partnership, Mr. Morris Finer, QC representing the defence read the affidavits by John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and evidence provided by accountants.

Extract from John Lennon’s affidavit:

After the death of Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ company Apple was full of ‘hustlers’ and ‘spongers’. The staff came and went as they pleased and were lavish with money and hospitality. We have since discovered that around that time, two of Apple’s cars had completely disappeared and that we owned a house, which no one can remember buying. But a few weeks after Mr. Klein had been authorised by me to make changes in the organisation of Apple the effects were felt. Early in 1969, Mr. Klein dismissed incompetent or unnecessary staff; the ‘hustling’ and lavish hospitality ended; discipline and order appeared in the Apple offices. The four of us started to receive monthly accounts of their personal spending, copies of bills and, where necessary, explanations. We also received regular bank statements and statements of our income and investments. It was true, that when the group was touring, their work and social relationships were close, but there had been a lot of arguing, mainly about musical and artistic matters. I suppose Paul and George were the main offenders in this respect, but from time to time we all gave displays of temperament and threatened to ‘walk out’. Of necessity, we developed a pattern for sorting out our differences, by doing what any three of us decided. It sometimes took a long time and sometimes there was deadlock and nothing was done, but generally that was the rule we followed and, until recent events, it worked quite well. Even when we stopped touring, we frequently visited each other’s houses in or near London and personally we were on terms as close as we had ever been. If anything, Paul was the most sociable of us. From our earliest days in Liverpool, George and I, on the one hand, and Paul, on the other, had different musical tastes. Paul preferred ‘pop-type’ music and we preferred what is now called ‘underground’. This may have led to arguments, particularly between Paul and George, but the contrast in our tastes, I am sure, did more good than harm, musically speaking, and contributed to our success.

If Paul is trying to break us up because of anything that happened before the Klein–Eastman power struggle, his reasoning does not make sense to me. After Mr. Epstein’s death, Mr. McCartney and me, in particular, tried to be businesslike over Apple’s affairs, but we were handicapped by our ignorance of accounting, business practice and our preoccupation with our musical activities. Above all, although royalties were coming in, none of us had any idea at all about the state of our finances or our liabilities. We decided that we must find a new manager and we interviewed several people, but none seemed to have any idea of what was needed. I arranged to see Mr. Klein, whom I had heard about from Mr. Epstein. He was tough but he knew the entertainment business. I then introduced Mr. Klein to the other Beatles. If Paul is suggesting that I was trying to rush him and the others into engaging Klein or pushing him down their throats, that is a wrong impression. At all times, Mr. Klein had shown himself on top of the job. The only other major contenders for the manager’s job were the Eastmans – father of McCartney’s wife Linda, and her brother. I had opposed the idea of having as manager anyone in such a close relationship with any particular Beatle.

Paul’s criticism of Mr. Klein was not fair. Klein is certainly forceful to an extreme, but he does get results. So far as I know, he has not taken any commission to which he was not entitled.

John Lennon’s affidavit – From “The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After The Break-Up 1970-2001” by Keith Badman

Extract from George Harrison’s affidavit:

The only serious row was between Paul and me. In 1968 I went to the United States and had a very easy co-operation with many leading musicians. This contrasted with the superior attitude which, for years past, Paul has shown towards me musically. In January 1969, we were making a film in a studio at Twickenham, which was dismal and cold, and we were all getting a bit fed up with our surroundings. In front of the cameras, as we were actually being filmed, Paul started to ‘get at’ me about the way I was playing. I decided I had had enough and told the others I was leaving. This was because I was musically dissatisfied. After a few days, the others asked me to return and since I did not wish to leave them in the lurch in the middle of filming and recording, and since Paul agreed that he would not try to interfere or teach me how to play, I went back. Since the row, Paul has treated me more as a musical equal. I think this whole episode shows how a disagreement could be worked out so that we all benefited. I just could not believe it when, just before Christmas, I received a letter from Paul’s lawyers. I still cannot understand why Paul acted as he did.

George Harrison’s affidavit – From “The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After The Break-Up 1970-2001” by Keith Badman

Extract from Ringo Starr’s affidavit:

The Beatles might yet stay together as a group. Paul is the greatest bass player in the world. He is also determined. He goes on and on to see if he can get his own way. While that may be a virtue, it did mean that musical disagreements inevitably rose from time to time. But such disagreements contributed to really great products. […]

I was shocked and dismayed, after Mr. McCartney’s promises about a meeting of all four Beatles in London in January, that a writ should have been issued on December 31. I trust Paul and I know he would not lightly disregard his promise. Something serious, about which I have no knowledge, must have happened between Paul’s meeting with George in New York at the end of December. […]

My own view is that all four of us together could even yet work out everything satisfactorily.

Ringo Starr’s affidavit – From “The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After The Break-Up 1970-2001” by Keith Badman

I went to see Paul. To my dismay, he went completely out of control, shouting at me, prodding his fingers towards my face, saying: ‘I’ll finish you now’ and ‘You’ll pay.’ He told me to put my coat on and get out. I did so.

Ringo Starr –

The hearing continued on the following day.


PAUL ‘LIKE A SPOILED CHILD’ SAYS RINGO

THE BEATLES were recording music for a film in a dismal and cold studio when a bitter row flared between Paul McCartney and George Harrison, a High Court judge was told yesterday. George Harrison said in a statement read to Mr Justice Stamp that there had been flare-ups before. But this was the only serious row. The judge was told that Paul had always shown a superior attitude to George’s music.

George said: “To get a peaceful life I had always let him have his own way even when it meant that songs I had composed were not being recorded.

Filmed

But at the same time, I was having to record his songs and put up with him telling me how to play my own instrument.

George Harrison’s evidence was given on the third day of the application by Paul McCartney for a Receiver to be appointed to control the group’s assets until his action to break up the Beatles is heard. Matters came to a head in the studio at Twickenham, George said.

When we were being filmed in front of the cameras, Paul started getting at me about the way I was playing. I decided I had had enough and I told the others I was leaving the group.

But he was persuaded to return after a meeting at Ringo’s house the following day.

Equal

Since then,” he said, “Paul has treated me more as a musical equal.

Ringo Starr said in his statement: “Paul is the greatest bass guitarist in the world.” But he added that he thought Paul had behaved like a spoiled child. Ringo said that he believed the four of them could still “make it up” as they had always done before.

John Lennon said in his statement that conditions at the Beatles’ Apple headquarters were chaotic after the death of Brian Epstein.

It was full of hustlers and spongers. The staff came and went as they pleased and were lavish with money and hospitality.

Two company cars disappeared and Apple was found to own a house which no one remembered buying. Allen Klein was appointed manager, although Paul wanted his father-in-law, Lee Eastman, to have the job. Klein, said Lennon, dismissed the incompetent staff, stopped lavish hospitality and brought order back to the Apple offices. John said that Paul had always been against Klein and had made things as difficult as possible for him.

But my own experience of Klein has been that if I asked a straight question I would get a straight answer.

Urged

Mr. Morris Finer, Q C. for the four defendants – John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Apple Corps Ltd. – urged the judge not to think that the Beatles were incapable of paying their tax bills, or that they “draw money and throw it in the River Thames.

The case continues today.

From Daily Mirror, February 24, 1971
From Daily Mirror, February 24, 1971

Last updated on April 2, 2022

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