How 2,000 people are employed by the Beatles

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"Purchase a copy of John Lennon's last will and testament. Jerry Moore of Illinois is willing to send you a copy for $10, to cover reproduction and postage."

"Purchase a copy of John Lennon's last will and testament. Jerry Moore of Illinois is willing to send you a copy for $10, to cover reproduction and postage."

This particular piece of Beatles memorabilia, available on the internet yesterday, may have been attracting less attention than the launch of their much-hyped album, 1, but it illustrated how, 30 years after they split, the Fab Four are still proving a lucrative source of income.

Some 2,000 people are now estimated to be making their living out of the Beatles, according to their biographer Hunter Davies, despite the fact that nearly all are too youthful to remember the originals.

The Beatles Industry stretches across the world, from Argentina to Tokyo, where a John Lennon museum has just opened its doors, and encompasses everything from memorabilia sellers to academics.

It ranges from the obvious, such as the Beatles shops in London, Liverpool, and America, the Beatles Museum and Beatles Story Attraction in Liverpool, and guides catering for Beatle tourism, offering to show followers around such iconic sites as Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane.

The business also includes the growing hordes of tribute bands, the number of which in Liverpool alone approaches some 250. Worldwide, these include such inventively named outfits as the Bootleg Beatles, Help, Revolver, the Apple Pies, the Return, the Roaches, the Scarabs, the Nowhere Men and the Fab Four.

And then there are the bizarre, such as Yrjo Heinonen, senior assistant of music, and founder of the Beatles 2000 research project, at the University of Jyväskylä, possessor of Finland's first Beatles PhD. He and a colleague are working on research into the "relative autonomy" of the Beatles' music.

Hunter Davies said: "The further you get from the Beatles, the bigger they become ... they win every 20th-century poll, the price of the memorabilia grows at Sotheby's, and the Beatles industry just keeps growing. But all the 'Beatles Brains' I know, people who can tell you every bootleg there ever was, are all too young toremember the band."

Stephen Bailey, manager of the Beatles Shop in Liverpool, which sells music and memorabilia, is one of those. Born in 1964, he was a follower of punk, but opened his shop when he identified a hole in the market.

He has recently opened a Beatles Art Gallery. "We opened 17 years ago, in the belief that we could find a market. Every year there's something that happens that just inflates people's imaginations," he said.

Elvis Costello was among those queuing up to own a copy of the Beatles' greatest hits album. The singer-songwriter was in the crowd waiting for the group's 1 album to go on sale at a midnight opening event at the Liverpool HMV store.

An HMV spokesman said: "He had a woolly hat and scarf on so we think he was trying to be a bit low key about it. But the staff recognised him."