Fuller emulates Epstein's feat of 40 years ago by taking top three in US chart

Simon Fuller, the brains behind Pop Idol and its US offshoot, American Idol, has become the first British music manager to land all three top places in the American music charts since Brian Epstein and the Beatles almost 40 years ago.

When British acts are having an unusually hard time penetrating the US music market, Mr Fuller's touch continues to be golden thanks to the popularity of his television series, which have proved to be a marketing windfall as much as a ratings winner.

This week's number-one slot in the Billboard charts is held by Clay Aiken, runner-up in the recent second series of American Idol. His song, which entered the charts at number one, is called "This Is The Night". At number two is the show's winner, Ruben Studdard, with "Flying Without Wings". And number three is a patriotic number, "God Bless the USA", sung by all 10 finalists on the show.

Together, the three songs have sold 700,000 copies. Records spawned by American Idol accounted for almost 90 per cent of total singles sales last week. It is also the first time in Billboard's 45-year history that both the number-one and number-two position have been held by new entries.

Mr Fuller's achievement matches that of Brian Epstein, who shepherded the Beatles to a box-office hat-trick in the United States in March 1964 - around the time of their triumphant first arrival on the other side of the Atlantic and their sell-out concert in Shea stadium - with "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "She Loves You" and "Please Please Me".

Unlike Epstein, Mr Fuller has not taken on a fully formed band or bands with ready-made musicians and songwriters. Rather, he and his company 19 Entertainment specialise in packaging singers and bands as marketing concepts first and musicians second.

Since setting up his company in 1985, Mr Fuller has had 96 number-one singles and 79 number-one albums in the United States and Britain.

Among his achievements was the creation of the Spice Girls, in many ways the forerunner to the marketing success of Pop Idol. Gareth Gates, a graduate of Pop Idol, has had the UK's biggest-selling single of the year with Spirit In The Sky. He also manages Will Young and Sarah Whatmore.

"I'm grateful that my artists and projects are succeeding globally in such a phenomenal way," the 42-year-old Mr Fuller said in a statement.

He is listed in the latest Sunday Times Rich List as the 359th wealthiest person in Britain, with assets estimated at £90m.

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