Start spreading the news ­ bogus Beatles lose out to fake Frank

Their music has been an enduring force since "Love Me Do" took them into the charts four decades ago, but now The Beatles seem to be losing their touch.

Their music has been an enduring force since "Love Me Do" took them into the charts four decades ago, but now The Beatles seem to be losing their touch.

A new study suggests people would prefer to swing along to "Forever in Blue Jeans" than "Strawberry Fields Forever", with more Neil Diamond soundalikes touring the UK's pubs and clubs than Fab Four imitators.

The Beatles ­ whose copyists include The Bootleg Beatles, The Cavern Beatles and The Beatalls ­ are plummeting down a hit parade of tribute acts. The last time a top 10 was compiled they were the second most common band on the beer-and-supper circuit, but in the past two years they have slipped down to number seven.

The list was assembled by MCPS-PRS Alliance, the music industry body which monitors live performances to collect royalty payments.

A spokesman said: "The figures are compiled so we can get payments to songwriters more accurately. We do the survey in 7,000 pubs and clubs across the UK, so it is a fairly substantial sample and gives a pretty accurate picture."

Elvis Presley earns the dubious honour of being crowned king of the tribute acts, holding on to the top slot with a slew of imitators such as Chinese Elvis, Suspiciously Elvis and Elvin Priestley.

Among the big climbers in the list is Robbie Williams who is at number three. Two years ago he was down in seventh position but he has now armed his copyists with a set of big band numbers to woo audiences after the success of his Swing When You're Winning album.

Tribute acts paying homage to the Stoke-born star ­ who played to more than 300,000 fans at Knebworth last summer ­ include Robbing Williams, Live Thru a Lens and Probably Robbie.

Neil Diamond is fourth in the list, despite not even making the top 10 last time.

As well as showing the downturn in Beatles bands, figures suggest the bottom has fallen out of the George Michael market. He was at number five in the previous chart but fails to make the top 10 this time, although a new lease of chart success with comeback album Patience could put him back in the nation's clubs.

Australia could be considered the birthplace of tribute bands. The country has produced the likes of the imaginatively named The Australian Pink Floyd, Elton Jack (an antipodean Elton John tribute act) and The Australian Doors Show. But its greatest success has been Bjorn Again, the best known of at least 100 Abba tribute bands around the world. The Swedish group has the most imitators of any pop act.

THE TOP 10

Previous position in brackets:

(1) Elvis Presley

(3) Abba

(7) Robbie Williams

(-) Neil Diamond

(4) Queen/Freddie Mercury

(-) Frank Sinatra

(2) The Beatles

(-) Meatloaf

(-) Rod Stewart

(6) The Blues Brothers

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