‘‪‪Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’‬ At 50 Is Still Not Fully ‘Owned’ By ‪The Beatles‬, Paul McCartney
Michael Jackson owned much of The Beatles song rights.

‘‪‪Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’‬ At 50 Is Still Not Fully ‘Owned’ By ‪The Beatles‬, Paul McCartney

Is it possible that the two living members of The Beatles are not getting a dime despite the resurgence of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band?

Fans around the world are celebrating the official release date of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by driving it to number one in the music charts in early June 2017. Nevertheless, this might not be a very happy 50th anniversary for the surviving Beatles members: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

Sadly, although the world is currently remembering May 26, 1967, as the day one of the most influential albums ever made was released and the 50 years of history that has come with it, The Beatles‬ who are still alive do not own the full rights to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

This could mean that some of the revenue being generated by fans of The Beatles that are driving Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band back to the number one slot on the U.K. music charts could be lining the pockets of someone else besides Ringo Starr and Sir Paul McCartney.

According to Forbes, the re-release of a reissued/remastered version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band caused The Beatles to rise to number one in the U.K. music charts in early June 2017 — just like they did 50 years ago.

 Sgt Pepper's by The Beatles was re-released in 2017.
Although ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ by The Beatles was recently remastered and re-released, it is unlikely that Ringo Starr or Paul McCartney get a full share of the profits. [Image by John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images]

Unfortunately, what is not being reported is whether or not The Beatles would get any money from an album sale for the new 50-year anniversary reissue of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is also not clear if The Beatles still own any rights to streaming their old songs from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Like many bands in the 1950’s and 1960’s, The Beatles were also subject to misunderstanding how contracts and property rights worked with their music — and this is why Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is partly owned in 2017 by Sony.

Regardless, the most immediate previous owner of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was Michael Jackson and/or his estate.

In fact, as previously reported by the Inquisitr, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney of The Beatles were friends until 1985 when MJ bought the rights to a large portion of the music catalog that belongs to The Beatles. This event came right after Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney worked on several songs together, including the popular hit “Say Say Say.”

Just a couple of years later, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson were in a feud over Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. After several years of asking Michael Jackson over and over again to sell him back the rights to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Michael Jackson told Paul McCartney to forget about it because it was “just business.”

After Michael Jackson died, Paul McCartney started his battle to regain the full rights to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 2009.

There were many instances where the media felt that the Michael Jackson estate would agree to sell Paul McCartney the rights to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This was especially true after it was revealed that Michael Jackson was practically bankrupt when he died in 2009.

The Beatles were robbed of their music catalog.
Beatles memorabilia celebrating their top hits is likely one of the last ways the band can make money off of their music. [Image by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]

Regardless, Michael Jackson’s estate refused to sell the rights to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to Paul McCartney or anyone else. It was not until a major $750 million deal with Sony in 2016, according to NPR, that the Michael Jackson estate finally relinquished ownership of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

This was disappointing news to Paul McCartney and other fans of The Beatles because, in 2016, Michael Jackson had already held the rights to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for almost three decades.

Before Michael Jackson owned the rights to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles were battling to get rights sorted. For example, Billboard points out that for most of the past 50 years of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’s existence, it has been owned by someone other than The Beatles.

Starting in 1963, long before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released, the manager for The Beatles, Brian Epstein, worked out a deal for their rights by forming the business Northern Songs.

According to Billboard, Northern Songs was “majority-owned by publisher Dick James with Epstein, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney, with the latter two songwriters owning 20 percent of the business apiece.”

In 1965, Northern Songs became public “with Lennon and McCartney each owning a 15 percent stake and Harrison and Starr splitting a small percentage.”

In 1969, publisher Dick James sold his shares of Northern Songs to ATV Music. While John Lennon and Paul McCartney offered ATV a counter-offer at that time, ATV eventually “gained control of the catalog.” After losing this battle, Paul and John decided to sell what they still had of their rights to ATV.

After losing or selling their rights to albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1969, The Beatles have profited very little from their own songs.

As it appears, one of the only ways that The Beatles can earn significant money from creating Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is through events like the 2017 memorabilia sold at Julian’s Auctions.

In 2005, while Michael Jackson was still alive, it was reported by CNN that “the actual sound recordings” for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band have the rights held by EMI/Capitol Records. It was also reported in 2005 that Sony receives a fee “each time one of the Beatles songs is played on the radio or a Beatles album is sold.”

The 50-year anniversary version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in association with the Apple/Capitol Records brand.

[Featured Image by BIPs/Getty Images]

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