The Beatles go to court

By Emily Morgan

March 25, 2008 at 8:25am

Yesterday, all their troubles seemed so far away.

In recent weeks, Paul McCartney and the Beatles’ company, Apple Corps Ltd., have been embroiled in court proceedings.

McCartney last week finally wrapped up his bitter divorce from Heather Mills, with the judge awarding Mills approximately $50 million. She had sought $250 million.

Apple Corps made headlines Monday when it filed a lawsuit against Fuego Entertainment Inc., an online music store, to prevent the release of some early Beatles recordings.

The unreleased songs were recorded live at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, in 1962. It was reportedly the first time Ringo Starr played with the Beatles, replacing drummer Pete Best.

The recordings include live versions of Beatles hits “Twist and Shout,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “Hippy Hippy Shake.”

Jeffrey Collins, an executive at Fuego Entertainment, claims ownership of the historic tracks, and has partnered with Fuego Entertainment to distribute them. He is the CEO of Fuego Entertainment’s sister company, Echo-Fuego Music Group LLC.

In 1995, Collins tried to release similar recordings and was denied. At that time, he told Billboard, “Apple does not own the rights to the tape. They’re trying to bully us into giving up the masters, which they have no right to. The group is called the Beatles. We haven’t used the trade name - we haven’t released it.”

Apple argues that although the group did play at the Star Club, they did not sign a contract that would give the club permission to record their performance. The company seeks an injunction and damages of at least $10 million.

In other Apple Corps news, former CEO Neil Aspinall died Monday at age 66. Often referred to as the “fifth Beatle,” Aspinall was the group’s original road manager and friend.

After the Beatles broke up, Aspinall was appointed to manage Apple Corps. He was responsible for putting together the Beatles’ three anthology albums and The Beatles Anthology TV mini-series, and for compiling their number-one hits on one album, Beatles 1.

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