Don't Let It Be: Beatles musical sued by rival over who came up with the idea of impersonating The Fab Four
Rival tribute acts will battle it out in court for the right to recreate the band’s music on stage
Adam Sherwin is Media Correspondent at The Independent and an award-winning writer who specialises in covering the entertainment, broadcasting, music and popular culture industries. Previously Media writer and diarist at The Times, he was a co-founder of the Beehive City media and entertainment website. As regular contributor to BBC London 94.9 Radio station, he was named Music Business writer of the year at the awards of influential music industry site Record of the Day in 2006.
Tuesday 16 July 2013
In 1970 The Beatles dissolved amid High Court acrimony. Now two Beatles tribute acts are locked in a bizarre legal battle to decide which of them “created” the Fab Four’s songs and mop-top haircuts.
The producers of Let It Be, the West End “jukebox musical”, which is about to open on Broadway, are being sued for copyright infringement by a rival Beatles production which claims that it first came up with the idea of a show that recreates the band’s famous songs and stage appearance.
The creators of Rain, a Beatles tribute show which ran on Broadway for nine months in 2010 and 2011, have filed a lawsuit against Let It Be, a multimedia show featuring a tribute band, which recreates the Beatles’ story from their early performances at Liverpool’s Cavern Club to the band’s later psychedelic experiments.
The Rain Corporation contends that Let It Be incorporates elements of Rain, including musical arrangements of the Beatles’s hits, Scouse-inflected stage banter between the band members and the hairstyles. The Rain lawsuit argues that Let It Be, which features 40 of the band’s greatest hits, including “Yesterday”, “Hey Jude” and the title song, uses 28 of the 31 songs performed in Rain. It claims that “the artwork used as background during the performance of many of those songs are similar or identical”.
Peter Cane, a lawyer for Let It Be’s producers, Jeff Parry and Annerin Productions, argued that the copyright claim was absurd.
“Let It Be is a tribute to The Beatles, not to the four guys who impersonate The Beatles,” he told The New York Times. “How do you monopolise the ability to present an impersonation of The Beatles? How many different ways can you really do it? The Beatles acted a certain way, they played certain notes, they spoke a certain way.”
However, the Rain producers said that they and the Let It Be team had initially come together in 2005, forming a 50-50 partnership, to create what became Rain.
Mr Parry wanted to create a London version of Rain and it was this spin-off which ultimately became Let It Be. The Rain Corporation lawsuit said it supplied Let It Be with its script, helped to rehearse cast members and even “oversaw the cast’s costume fitting and wig cutting/styling”.
When the West End show launched, Parry then sent an e-mail saying that the agreement was no longer valid and that the Rain creators were now entitled to just 7.125 per cent of the revenue. The Rain Corporation’s lawsuit calls for a 50 per cent share from the Broadway production of Let It Be, which opens next week, and any further openings.
The Let It Be producers claim that one point of difference in their show is that it recreates later Beatles songs, recorded after the band gave up touring in 1966. Paul McCartney filed a lawsuit for the dissolution of The Beatles’ contractual partnership in December 1970.
Here Comes The Pun: Other Beatles tribute acts
The “original” tribute act who distil the best of the Fab Four into a 5-act show. Formed in 1980, these soundalikes have been through 9 members with “George” (Andre Barreau) the only ever-present. Headlined Glastonbury 2013 – in the acoustic tent.
The Fab Faux
New York wannabes who formed in 1998 take rare Beatles tracks and add new horn arrangements regardless of the original song’s requirements. Founder Will Lee played with three of the Beatles as bassist on the Late Show with David Letterman.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin quartet formed in 2001 to fill void for mash-ups of Beatles and Metallica hits. Highlights include And Justice for All My Loving. Metallica intervened on Beatallica’s behalf when Beatles’s publishers issued “cease and desist” order.
Popular 90s Manchester band who married Macca’s singalong melodies to the acidic vocal delivery of John Lennon, as channelled by Liam Gallagher, in a naked bid to emulate the globe-straddling success of their 60s heroes.
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