Beatles win historic ban on bootleg CD

IT WAS the "crummiest" recording ever to be associated with The Beatles. It brought the reclusive George Harrison into a courtroom in high dudgeon. And it resulted yesterday in a landmark victory for musicians.

The former Beatles have won their High Court case to stop a CD produced from a 36- year-old tape of the band being released.

The judge paid particular tribute to George Harrison who had told the court that the recording was the "crummiest" ever made in the group's name and then went on to reminisce about the earliest days of the world's most famous group.

Harrison's evidence in the case transcended the legal battle and will be a delight for Beatles historians. The 54-year-old, making a rare appearance and donning reading spectacles to pore over documents, was also unusually forthcoming about the group's early days, describing the seedy, drunken scenes in the Hamburg club where they were then performing, and even digressing to talk about his teenage days with John Lennon.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Neuberger gave a short ruling after a settlement of the four-day hearing. Lingasong Music Ltd, which had claimed it had the rights to exploit the tape because John Lennon gave his permission in 1962 at the Star Club in Hamburg, agreed to abide by an injunction stopping the sales and to hand over the original tape.

The judge said he accepted all the arguments put forward for the members of the Beatles "with particular reference to the evidence of George Harrison".

The group, then at the beginning of their fame, having signed with EMI Records, and enjoying their first hit, "Love Me Do", were fulfilling an old contract to perform at the notorious club. They shared the bill that night in December with King Size Taylor and the Dominoes, whose leader, Edward Taylor, used his own reel-to-reel machine to record the bands on stage.

"One drunken person recording another bunch of drunks does not constitute business deals," Harrison told the judge. He added: "The only person who allegedly heard anything about it is the one person who is dead, who can't ... say it's a load of rubbish."

The judge ordered that all copies of the recording be delivered up to the Beatles' solicitors and that the group should be paid their legal costs and damages to be assessed at an inquiry.

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