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Beatles News Archives

2003 - Page 8


Wacko Blanks Macca

Michael Jackson has wiped Paul McCartney from history - by removing the former Beatle's duet from his Number Ones album.

Jacko has refused to include their 1983 chart-topper 'Say Say Say', after feuding with Macca for years.

The pair were once firm friends but fell out after Jacko outbid Sir Paul for the Beatle's back catalogue. Jacko recently fired off a furious e-mail to Macca after Paul criticised the way the dad-of-three raises his kids.

Jacko's biggest hits are being released on an 18-track CD and 15-track DVD on November 17. The album will include a new track 'One More Chance' penned by R Kelly.


Suit Filed Over Album Lennon Signed for Killer

Many people will never forget where they were when they heard that John Lennon had been gunned down by a crazed fan outside his New York apartment on Dec. 8, 1980. But Philip Michael of Hamburg, N.J., took away more than an indelible memory of the tragedy. Arriving outside the Dakota apartments after the shooting, he found a copy of the album "Double Fantasy," which John had autographed for the shooter, Mark David Chapman, a few hours earlier.

The album, which became an important piece of evidence in the murder case, is now at the centre of litigation.

In a suit filed Sept. 9 in SussexCounty, Michael alleges that an online memorabilia auction house in Washingtonville, N.Y., breached a 1998 agreement to sell the album and to give him 95 percent of the proceeds.

The Web site of the company, Moments in Time, boasts it sold the album, referred to as "the most important piece of historic rock memorabilia ever," to an unnamed buyer for $460,000 on Jan. 20, 1999.

Michael's share of the proceeds would have been $437,000 but he never saw a cent, he claims.

Michael is suing Moments in Time and its owner, Gary Zimet, for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, professional negligence and violation of the Consumer Fraud Act. Michael v. Moments in Time, SSx-L- 501-03. Superior Court Judge Karen Russell has been assigned to the case.

The album bears John's autograph, "John Lennon 1980;" a police identification number,"WJT-2;" and the fingerprints of Chapman, who is serving a 20-year to life sentence. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on June 22, 1981, but the prosecution would have used the album had the case gone to trial.

The story of how the album got onto the auction block begins on the day of the shooting. According to contemporary accounts, Chapman loitered outside the Dakota for much of the day. A widely circulated photograph taken by a fan shows John autographing the album with Chapman looking on.

The shooting occurred late that evening, around 11 p.m., as John returned from a recording studio. Witnesses saw Chapman call out to John before firing four shots into his back and shoulder from a .38 caliber revolver, killing him almost instantly. Hordes of Beatle fans and other onlookers, including Michael, swarmed to the scene soon after. He found the signed album in a planter, where Chapman had stashed it.

Michael turned over the album to the authorities, as evidenced by a letter of thanks to his New York lawyer, Joan Berk. "By coming forward with the record that Mark Chapman abandoned at the murder site, your client provided us with an important piece of evidence," wrote Assistant New York County District Attorney Allen Sullivan on Aug. 26, 1981.

After Chapman's plea and sentence, the district attorney returned the album to Michael, who kept it until 1998, when he decided to put it up for auction and contacted Moments in Time. That August, Zimet's company offered the album for sale at $1.8 million. A company press release described it as containing Chapman's "forensically enhanced fingerprints" and stated that police reports, fingerprint documentation and letters from the district attorney supported its authenticity. The announcement of the auction drew international media attention, leading to the 1999 sale.

Yet, it was almost five years later that Michael came to court claiming he was cheated out of his proceeds. Michael's lawyer, Paul Hunczak, a partner with Newton, N.J.'s Morris, Downing & Sherred, says he had a hard time at first believing the tale told by his personal injury client, until Michael showed him a People magazine article about the album.

Chapman, too, apparently recognized the monetary value of the album. On Dec. 6, 1981, Rich Hampson of The Associated Press reported that Chapman was trying to regain possession of it so he could sell it and donate the proceeds to "a worthy cause such as gun control."

On Aug. 22, 1998, The Associated Press reported that after Michael put the album up for auction, an unnamed lawyer contacted Chapman at Attica Prison to let him know he had a legal right to the album. Chapman reportedly responded, "I have no interest whatsoever in making a claim," adding that he hoped the money would be used for charity.

According to an Aug. 7, 1998, report by Chris Nelson for VH-1, Zimet and Michael likewise agreed to donate an undisclosed percentage of the album proceeds to Handgun Control Inc., to dispel any appearance of profiteering from the tragedy.

Zimet did not return calls seeking comment.

After the shooting, "Double Fantasy" rose to the top of the Billboard charts and became one of the best-selling albums of 1980.

Last October, the New York State Division of Parole denied Chapman's application for parole for the second time. The first denial was in October 2000, when he first became eligible for parole.


Paul and Ringo Come Together for Harrison Film

The two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, have made a rare joint appearance at the world premiere for a documentary film of last year's concert tribute to their late colleague, George Harrison.

Paul and Ringo, accompanied by their respective wives, Heather Mills and Barbara Bach, arrived separately at the Wednesday evening event but spoke briefly and posed together for pictures on the Warner Bros. Studios lot in Burbank, California.
The two former Fab Four musicians were joined at the screening by fellow recording stars Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow and Jeff Lynne, along with Harrison's widow, Olivia, their son, Dhani, and Yoko Ono, the widow of ex-Beatle John Lennon.

The movie, "Concert for George," captures the all-star concert staged last November at London's Royal Albert Hall celebrating the life and music of George a year after he died of cancer at 58. Lennon was shot to death in 1980 by a deranged fan outside his Manhattan apartment building.

Both Paul and Ringo performed at the sell-out benefit concert, as did Petty, Lynne, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston and Harrison's musical mentor, Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar.

The 90-minute film is due for release Oct. 3 in about three dozen cities around the United States.


Stamps Designed by John Lennon Sell for $2,000

Stamps designed by John Lennon to support a strike by postal workers sold for $2,000, double the pre-sale estimate, auctioneers at Sotheby's said.

The stamps, which depict a clenched fist, were part of a sale of rock 'n' roll and film memorabilia auctioned Wednesday at London's Olympia exhibition hall. The buyer and seller weren't identified.

A 1960s table from John's former home at Weybridge, south of London, went for $3,800, and a signed copy of "Revolver," one of the band's most celebrated albums, sold for $34,000. But a collection of photographs of the Beatles in Adelaide, Australia, which had been expected to fetch $24,000, failed to sell.


Clinton joins Arab-Jewish children in Beatles classic at Peres bash

Former US president Bill Clinton raised a cheer from hundreds of international dignitaries as he took to the stage to sing The Beatles classic "Imagine" with a mixed group of Arab and Jewish children.

The former US leader looked somewhat taken aback as he was called to the stage and handed a microphone to perform alongside a teenage girl -- without even the benefit of lyrics to help him out.

The spectacle was just one of dozens of musical ensembles and show pieces put together for the opening gala evening for more than 400 statesmen and celebrities who had flown to Israel for the official celebrations marking the 80th birthday of Shimon Peres.


Death of Woman in Phil Spector Case Officially Ruled a Homicide

A Los Angeles County Coroner official said Monday (September 22) that the death of actress Lana Clarkson in Phil Spector's home has been officially ruled a homicide. After an eight-month long investigation, the Coroner's office issued a statement saying that Clarkson died from a gunshot wound "of the head and neck," and that she was shot by another person.

Last Friday (September 19) Los Angeles detectives handed the case over to prosecutors, concluding that Spector shot Clarkson on February 3 at his mansion. The district attorney's office will determine what charges to bring against the famed record producer who was known for his "Wall Of Sound" music production in the 1960s--and his fascination with guns.

The 62-year-old Spector was arrested in February on suspicion of murder after police found Clarkson dead in his California mansion. He was released after posting $1 million in bail.

Spector has maintained his innocence since the incident. In the July issue of Esquire magazine, he said Clarkson shot herself after grabbing a bottle of tequila.

Spector, a member of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, has worked with such artists as the Beatles, the Ramones, the Shirelles and the Ronettes.


Paul Gets in Shoving Match in London

Paul McCartney was involved in a scuffle Friday when a photographer tried to take his picture near the site of illusionist David Blaine's latest stunt.

Paul spokesman Geoff Baker said the former Beatle fired him when he learned that Baker had informed the photographer that Paul would be visiting the site on the River Thames. Blaine is trying to live there without food for 44 days while suspended from a crane in a plastic box.

Baker later said he'd been reinstated, and described reports of a "fracas" as exaggerated.

London's Metropolitan Police, however, said they were investigating two counter-allegations of common assault following a dispute near Blaine's stunt between a photographer and a group of friends early Friday morning. The police didn't name anyone involved in the incident.

Baker issued a statement describing how he, Paul and friends of the 61-year-old musician went to see Blaine after dining in central London's Soho district on Thursday evening.

"One of the lads tipped off the press, who were watching a man in a sleeping bag in a box, that Paul was passing," the statement said. "Paul then continued to joke by telling his mate, who is his publicist, that he was fired. Paul then got into a car and went home. Reports that this was a fracas or anything other than a group of friends on a night out are heavily exaggerated."

Baker has said earlier that Paul was "incandescent" when a photographer tried to take his picture.

"Paul didn't want to be photographed and two of his mates said he didn't want any photography," said Baker, who has been Paul's spokesmen for many years. "There was pushing and shoving, but there were certainly no punches thrown.

"Then Paul got cross with me and told me I was fired. He was incandescent."

The Evening Standard newspaper said its photographer, Kevin Wheal, claimed he was hit after trying to take Paul's picture. The paper said the star's friends told police they were assaulted during the incident.

The stunt by Blaine, an American magician, has attracted large crowds of onlookers, and sometimes hecklers.

Since he entered the boxSept. 5, Blaine has been jeered, pelted with eggs, taunted with food and awakened by drummers. This week, police arrested a man who allegedly tried to cut off the magician's water supply.


Rumpus as Paul visits man-in-boxstunt

Scuffles broke out when Paul McCartney went to see US illusionist David Blaine dangling from a clear plastic boxon the banks of the River Thames in London.

Paul arrived early Friday at Tower Bridge to take a look at Blaine, who is two weeks into a 44-day fast inside a clear plastic boxsuspended nine metres (30 feet) off the ground by a construction crane.

But the scene turned nasty when people described as friends of Paul, then the musician himself, allegedly clashed with a photographer for the London Evening Standard newspaper, Kevin Wheal.

"His friends, who seemed more like minders to me, grabbed hold of me and pushed my camera towards the ground," said Wheal, who also claimed that Paul pushed him in the chest and told him: "It's a private visit".

Police said they were looking into allegations -- and counter-allegations -- of assault, lodged at the scene by Paul's companions and by the photographer.

Blaine, 30, a New Yorker whose previous stunts include freezing himself in ice for nearly 62 hours, has pulled thousands of spectators, many of them hostile, since his fast began on September 5.


Beatles Rework "Let It Be"

The lads of Liverpool are ready to get back to where they once belonged, at least where it concerns the making of the Let It Be album.

The surviving Beatles plan to release on November 17 a newly revised edition of their classic 1970 opus, which strips out the flowery orchestrations added by legendary producer Phil Spector and recaptures the Fab Four at their most magical and intimate, the Beatles' company, Apple Corps. Records announced today.

"If we had today's technology back then, it would sound like this because this is the noise we made in the studio. It's all exactly as it was in the room. You're right there now," Paul McCartney said in a statement.

The quieter version, dubbed Let It Be...Naked and approved by the late George Harrison before his death in 2001, has long been a pet project of Paul's, who thought the original recordings deserved to be heard and was never happy with the string arrangements Spector added to "The Long and Winding Road."

Paul and John Lennon penned most of the tunes in 1969 and originally wanted to call the new collection, Get Back. But the Beatles ended up disbanding in 1970 before finishing the album.

John, who had an affinity for Spector's revolutionary implementation of studio effects and over-dubbing to create his trademark wall of sound--an orchestral wash that helped score hits for the Righteous Brothers, the Ronettes, and many others--invited him to sift through hundreds of hours of tapes and complete what ultimately became Let It Be, which accompanied the film of the same name.

Conceiving the idea for the re-issue over two years ago, Paul and drummer Ringo Starr hope to present the Moptop's final release as they originally intended--a back-to-basics album showcasing a roots-oriented rock and roll band.

"When I first heard it, it was really uplifting," Starr told Reuters. "It took you back again to the times when we were this band, the Beatle band."

Naked nixes "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae," plus background dialogue, in favour of featuring "Don't Let Me Down," a track that was not on the original album. And another treat for Beatles fans, the de-Spectorized version will also include a special 20-minute bonus disc of rare footage of the musicians in recording and film sessions as well as a CD booklet containing photos and text that was originally published in the Let It Be vinyl booklet.

While the Beatles may be gone, they're more popular than ever these days.

One, their compilation of number-one hits, has already sold over 24 million copies worldwide. Plus, those wanting to see John, Paul, George and Ringo at their apex, be on the lookout for The Ed Sullivan Shows Featuring the Beatles, a two-disc DVD set containing all 20 historic performances of the British band, which hits stores on October 28.

The BBC, meanwhile plans to air a special on September 20 showing lost footage of the era, including clips of John hanging out with wife Yoko Ono and the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger.


Yoko Ono Performs Legendary 'Cut Piece'

Yoko Ono performed her legendary 1960s "Cut Piece" Monday, inviting the audience to cut off her clothing with scissors in the name of world peace.

The 70-year-old avant-garde icon sat in a chair on stage alone at Paris' intimate Ranelagh theatre and asked that each member of the audience silently cut off a piece of her clothing and send it to a loved one.

One by one, the 200 audience members filed onstage and snipped away pieces of Ono's outfit — a long black silk skirt with matching long-sleeved top. Among them was Ono's 27-year-old son, Sean Lennon.

At the end of the one-hour event, the Japanese-born artist was left seated in her black undergarments until an aide came onstage with a robe.

"I was just here to say imagine world peace, and to say I love you," Ono told Associated Press Television News in an exclusive interview after the show. "Let's create a peaceful world. I'm hoping these things will help."

The appearance repeats Ono's 1964 performance in Japan, which captivated the media and art critics at the time for its boldness. She also performed "Cut Piece" at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1965.

It was well before she and the late Beatles' star John Lennon became a couple — they met in 1966 and married in 1969.

"Following the political changes through the year after 9/11, I felt terribly vulnerable — like the most delicate wind could bring me tears," Ono wrote in a presentation for the show. "Cut Piece is my hope for world peace."

By allowing strangers to approach her with scissors, Ono said she hoped to show that this is "a time where we need to trust each other."

Spectators walked away saying the message was clear.

"Scissors usually have a violent connotation, but she turns it around to make it peaceful," said Katherine Williams, an 18-year-old Californian studying in Paris. "I think that's what she's saying — you can make peace out of violence."

Monday's performance marks Ono's extended presence in Paris this autumn, with an exhibit, "Women's Room," running at the Paris Modern Art Museum through Sept. 28.


Beatles Bite into Apple

The iconic rock band's record company, Apple Corps., filed a lawsuit against Apple Computer on Friday for reportedly breaching a 1991 agreement, which prevented the computer maker from entering the music biz.

The suit, filed in London's High Court, seeks to recoup damages for Apple Computer's trademark infringement with the launch of its iTunes Music Store and iPod MP3 player.

Founded in 1968, Apple Corps. is owned by Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and the estate of George Harrison.

Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs, who launched his company in 1977, had previously admitted that the name was chosen, in part, as a tribute to the Beatles.

As such, the group sued in 1981, and again in 1991, over the corporate name before a truce was established, which was estimated to have cost the computer maker close to $38 million in an out-of-court settlement.

The 1991 agreement also "specified the rights each company would have to use the Apple trademark," according to a statement from Apple spokesperson Katie Cotton.

"Unfortunately, Apple and Apple Corps. now have differing interpretations of this agreement and will need to ask a court to resolve this dispute" continued the statement.

Apple Corps also released a statement to the press saying, "Specifically, the complaint is made over the use by Apple Computer of the word "Apple" and apple logos in conjunction with its new application for downloading prerecorded music from the Internet."

At stake are the millions in sales Apple has made since launching iTunes in April--the online music store has sold more than 10 million songs at 99 cents a pop over the past five months. The suit could also threaten iTunes' future plans. Jobs was set to roll out a version of iTunes for PC users by the end of the year. Until now, the service was limited to Macintosh users only.


George Harrison's guitar rakes in a record 435,000 dollars at auction

A guitar used by George Harrison at the last Beatles concert has sold for nearly 435,000 dollars at auction in California, auctioneers said.

The custom-made Fender Rosewood Telecaster guitar, which was also used by the legendary guitarist during the filming of the classic Beatles movie "Let It Be," sold for far more than the expected price of 250,000 dollars.

Odyssey Auctions in Los Angeles, which organised the sale of the instrument among a lot of entertainment industry memorabilia, said the guitar was bought by an anonymous West Coast collector.

The guitar is being sold by musician Delaney Bramlett who received it as a gift from George in December 1969. George died in Los Angeles of cancer in November 2001.

"(Harrison) played it on January 30, 1969 on the rooftop of Apple Records in London, the last time the Beatles performed together in public," said Bill Miller, the president of the auction house.


'Concert for George' to Hit Theatres, DVD

A film chronicling last fall's star-studded George Harrison tribute at London's Royal Albert Hall will open Oct. 3 in select U.S. cities.

Filmed in high definition and recorded in 5.1 surround sound, "A Concert for George" will be released worldwide on DVD in November, distributed internationally via ArenaPlexLLC.

Legendary guitarist Eric Clapton served as the music director for the event, which featured appearances by Harrison's surviving Beatles bandmates, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as friends Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Joe Brown, Anoushka Shankar and Billy Preston.

Among the Harrison songs they performed were "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "I Want To Tell You," "Inner Light," "Give Me Love," "Taxman," "I Need You" and "For You Blue."

"The Concert for George was all I hoped it would be. The glue that held it together was our love for George," his widow Olivia Harrison said in a statement. "I don't think I've ever heard a band play with so much emotion and respect." Added Clapton, "All I wanted to do was really share our love for George and his music."

The event also saw members of Monty Python re-enacting some of George's favourite skits. Harrison financed and served as an executive producer of the comedy troupe's second feature film, 1979's "Life of Brian."

David Leland ("Wish You Were Here," "Band of Brothers") directed "The Concert for George," and utilized footage from more than a dozen camera locations inside Royal Albert Hall. Along with performance clips, the DVD includes several interviews and backstage moments.

The movie trailer for the film, as well as assorted photos from the event, can be seen at the "Concert for George" Web site.

The theatrical engagement will open in New York, Los Angeles and other select U.S. cities to be determined. All proceeds from the concert, the film and the DVD will benefit the Material World Charitable Foundation, founded by Harrison in 1973.


Beatle daughter Stella McCartney weds on romantic Scottish isle

Fashion designer Stella McCartney, daughter of Paul McCartney, has wed publisher Alasdhair Willis on the Isle of Bute in western Scotland amid tight security, British newspapers confirmed.

The exact time and location of the ceremony Saturday had been a closely guarded secret while neither bride nor groom, or their spokespersons, were prepared to officially comment on the wedding.

Pop star Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie, James Bond star Pierce Brosnan and model Kate Moss were among celebrities who attended.

Other famous guests among the more than 100 invitees included Chrissie Hynde of the group The Pretenders and US actress Liv Tyler -- star of "Lord of the Rings".

Stella's famous father and his second wife Heather Mills-McCartney also attended.

Newspapers said the bride and groom, both 31, had arrived at the estate's historic chapel by horse and carriage.

According to the News of the World tabloid, guests were served up homemade wild mushroom pie and mashed potatoes at the party following the ceremony.

Many guests had arrived Friday at the port of Rothesay aboard a ferry from the Scottish mainland.

The former Formula One racing driver Johnny Dumfries, who bears the ancient hereditary title of seventh Marquis of Bute, is said to have made his historic family home at Mount Stuart on the island available for a lavish wedding reception.

After several years as designer at a Parisian fashion house, Stella McCartney is now head of her own label, part of the Gucci group.

Stella will also have a new half-brother or sister later this year, after it was announced in May that Paul's second wife was pregnant with the couple's first baby, a year after they married.

Paul had one son, two daughters -- including Stella -- and a step-daughter by his first wife Linda Eastman, who died of cancer in 1998.


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