Tag Archives: George Harrison

Dead Man’s Wallet

The publication that once self-described as “The Capitalist’s Tool,” which eventually had an unfortunate if apt meaning, Forbes, has, like its competitor, Fortune, long been into creating lists. This was something that preceded the clickbait approach of so-called listicles, which are pretty much predicated on short attention spans. In the case of Forbes and Fortune the lists were predicated on numeric data that their readers could use for purposes of comparison and analysis rather than distraction.

Still, times change for all.

One of the things that is tough to overlook about the music industry—and let’s recognize that what is most visible are the industry participants rather than artisans or craftspeople—is that it is hugely measured in the metric of “hits,” which means “sales,” which means “revenue,” which leads to “earnings.”

In the recent Q3 earnings call, for example, for Universal Music Group, during which it was noted that the company had its fifth quarter running of strong earnings (e.g., revenues of $2.68 billion), Sir Lucian Grainge (and know that Grainge wasn’t knighted because of dragons), pointed out that while there are some 100,000 tracks uploaded to streaming services each day, this is really not helpful because it tends to be “low-quality content,” as distinct from 114-million album seller Taylor Swift, about whom he remarked: “You just have to look at the excitement around the world on a brilliant album by a brilliant artist with this week’s Taylor Swift release. That drives consumption, it drives audience and it drives new people to everything to the products, to the platforms, to other music.” And, of course, it drives revenue.

But Swift is still with us, and Forbes has complied a list of the top-earning artists and entertainers who are dead but still minting some serious coin during the past 12 months.

Of the list of 15 people, musicians take eight spots. The first two on the list are J.R.R. Tolkien ($500 million) and Kobe Bryant ($400 million).

But then there is a musician at number three. David Bowie. He (or more accurately, some legally existing entity, but from here on out we’ll just cite names rather than estates, tontines, corporations, and what have you) earned $250-million. This primarily from a catalog sale.

(According to Will Page of Tarzan Economics, which runs numbers related to the music industry, the global value of music copyright is $39.6-billion, which is now 40% more than in 2001, the year of peak CD; now 55% of the value is predicated on streaming.)

At number 4 is a man who has been dead since August 16, 1977. Elvis earned $110-million during the past year. This is mainly a take from Graceland and various variations of Elvis-branded objects. One might image that at some point in the past—maybe 2001—we hit peak Elvis. Consider: 50,000,000 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong came out in 1959. If they were an average 20 years old then, this means they’re now 83. The only hip shaking most of them are going to do could lead to a fracture. Still, they’ve evidently got some disposable income.

James Brown, the former hardest working man in show business, is in the fifth position, $100-million. This is based on music rights, real estate (evidently hard working and smart), and his name and likeness. Two interesting things to know about him: he was short: 5-foot, 6 inches (according to the CDC, the average male is 5’9”) and he died on Christmas (2006).

Michael Jackson is in sixth position, with $75-million in earnings. Shows in Vegas and on Broadway and his catalog accounts for the major portion of this income. (Speaking of Vegas, while there seems to be an increasing trend toward musicians doing residencies there so they don’t need to travel, it is worth noting that Jackson’s ex-father-in-law performed there more than 600 times, including a run of 58 sold-out shows—that’s entertainment.)

Seventh place, at $55-million, is held by Canadian musician Leonard Cohen, whose “Hallelujah” seems to be a song people like to cover. According to the New York Times Cohen died the night of November 7, 2016, “during his sleep following a fall.” Cohen’s Wikipedia entry has it that “His work explored religion, politics, isolation, depression, sexuality, loss, death, and romantic relationships.” Probably not the life of any party not being held in the basement of a funeral home. Cohen’s earnings were from publishing and his masters.

The most-unexpected musician on the list is in ninth, with $25-million: Jeff Porcaro. Yes, the drummer for Toto. He died in 1992 at age 38 of a heart attack. While some may sneer at Porcaro and Toto, the opening paragraph of article that appeared in 1997 in Drum! magazine by Greg Rule is worth quoting in full because one can only assume that Drum! magazine probably has writers who know a little more about, well, drummers than the rest of us:

“For two-plus magical decades, Jeff Porcaro set the standard. Whatever the session, whatever the stage, when he picked up sticks it was pure magic. Smooth as silk. Deep beyond all comprehension. Taste, impeccable time and attitude for days. He had it all. From his breakthrough sessions with Boz Scaggs and Steely Dan in the mid ’70s to his final notes with Toto on Kingdom of Desire in 1992, the man with the golden groove was consistently brilliant. ‘He was one of the best drummers in the world,’ said Eddie Van Halen at a tribute held for Jeff in late ’92. ‘Definitely the groove master. He was just so heavy.’”

Porcaro’s earnings came from publishing and recording royalties. (Apparently Pocaro’s half-time shuffle beat on “Rosanna” is considered by many to be iconic. Speaking of that song, it was written about Rosanna Arquette, who had been dating Steve Porcaro, Toto keyboard player and yes, Jeff’s brother. Arquette is also the person about whom Peter Gabriel wrote “In Your Eyes.” She’s clearly something.)

Positions 12 and 13, $16-million and $12-million, respectively, deserve a shrug: John Lennon and George Harrison. Royalties and rights for the music in Get Back. One of these days George will get ahead of John. . . .

Bowie illustration by Michelle Rohn for Forbes.

Timeline of the early Beatles solo era

George Harrison was the first Beatle to put out a solo project when he released his Wonderwall Music soundtrack on November 1, 1968. At that point, the Beatles were still together and had just wrapped up the recording of the White Album. They would spend the month of January 1969 filming and recording what eventually became Let It Be. By the end of August 1969 Abbey Road was in the can, and the next month John Lennon told the other Beatles, “The group’s over, I’m leaving.” They all kept quiet about it while they renegotiated their record contracts. But Paul McCartney told Life magazine in November 1969, “The Beatles thing is over. It has been exploded, partly by what we have done, and partly by other people. We are individuals, all different.” Nobody seems to have picked up on this at the time though.

It wasn’t until April 1970, when Paul released McCartney, that the world figured out that the Beatles had in fact broken up. By that time, though, there had already been six prior solo albums released and three singles.

When you look at the timeline from the release of Wonderwall Music through the end of 1970, it’s crazy how much stuff they put out.

November 1, 1968: Wonderwall Music (George)
November 11, 1968: Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins (John)
November 22, 1968: The Beatles (White Album) (Beatles)
January 13, 1969: Yellow Submarine (Beatles)
April 11, 1969: “Get Back” (Beatles)
May 30, 1969: “The Ballad of John and Yoko” (Beatles)
May 9, 1969: Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions (John)
May 9, 1969: Electronic Sound (George)
July 4, 1969: “Give Peace a Chance” (John)
September 26, 1969: Abbey Road (Beatles)
October 6, 1969: “Something”/”Come Together” (Beatles)
October 20, 1969: Wedding Album (John)
October 20, 1969: “Cold Turkey” (John)
December 12, 1969: Live Peace in Toronto 1969 (John)
February 6, 1970: “Instant Karma!” (John)
February 26, 1970: Hey Jude album (Beatles)
March 6, 1970: “Let It Be” single (Beatles)
March 27, 1970: Sentimental Journey (Ringo)
April 17, 1970: McCartney (Paul)
May 8, 1970: Let It Be album (Beatles)
May 11, 1970: “The Long and Winding Road” (Beatles)
September 25, 1970: Beaucoups of Blues album (Ringo)
October 5, 1970: “Beaucoups of Blues” single (Ringo)
November 23, 1970: “My Sweet Lord” (George)
November 27, 1970: All Things Must Pass (George)
December 11, 1970: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (John)
December 28, 1970: “Mother” (John)

* When UK and US release dates differ, the earlier of the two is displayed.

Image is a detail of the cover of Electronic Sound, painted by George Harrison.

All the Videos From CONAN’s George Harrison Week

If you’ve seen A Hard Day’s Night then you know George was definitely the coolest Beatle. If you’ve seen any clip of him you know it. And so it’s fitting that we celebrate George Harrison Week with Conan O’Brien and a cast of friends, family and admirers.

Beck Kicks it off with “Wah Wah” and the influence of All Things Must Pass on Beck’s sound become so obvious now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01IU1Vdz-w8

Next is George’s old pal, Paul Simon with a tasty cover of “Here Comes the Sun.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGKZzPb_Y3Y

Contrast that with this version of the George Harrison and Paul Simon playing it together in 1976 and you can FEEL the years wash over you.

Continue reading All the Videos From CONAN’s George Harrison Week

George Harrison’s Apple Records Remastered, Re-released

The last few have been banner years for Beatles fans. The band’s catalog has been remastered in mono and stereo for digital and vinyl release, volume one of Mark Lewisohn’s meticulously researched trilogy was released, and both McCartney and Lennon back catalogs have also been getting the reissue/repackage/repackage treatment—replete with extra goodies. And now George is catching up.

George Harrison’s first six solo albums, released between 1968 and 1975 on The Beatles’ Apple Records label, have been digitally remastered from the original analogue masters for CD and digital release. The deluxe, eight-disc boxed edition, The Apple Years 1968-75 will be out on September 22. The albums included are:

  • Wonderwall Music
  • Electronic Sound
  • All Things Must Pass
  • Living In The Material World
  • Dark Horse
  • Extra Texture (Read All About It)

The entire set was supervised by George’s son, Dhani. Thank God for this kid, eh? His dedication to the old man’s legacy is really heart-warming.

Read all about the extra bits and ordering information on the George Harrison official release page, or just watch the teaser video.

All Things Must Pass on Vinyl, Hi-Res Download

All Things Must PassJust a couple weeks ago, we learned that Paul McCartney would be releasing his remastered Band on the Run album as a High Resolution (24bit 96kHz) download, and now George Harrison’s estate is doing the same thing with All Things Must Pass for its 40th anniversary on November 26. No word on whether you’ll be able to get versions with and without peak limiting like you can with Band on the Run, but the fact that hi-res audio is becoming de rigueur from the Apple/Abbey Road team is surely a good sign.

In addition to the digital download, All Things Must Pass will be also released on 180-gram vinyl in its original three-LP configuration, remastered at Abbey Road Studios from the original analog master tapes.

George Harrison: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, eMusic, wiki

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Lost Classic: Ron Wood – I’ve Got My Own Album to Do

Ron Wood - I've Got My Own Album to DoRon WoodI’ve Got My Own Album to Do (Warner Bros.)

God damn the early 70s must have been fun. We’ve all seen Almost Famous and the life of a somewhat known (fictional) band looked great, so imagine what it was like to be in the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band! Well, in 1974 Woody had the best of all worlds when he started out as a member of The Faces with Rod Stewart and then jumped over to be a Rolling Stone when guitarist Mick Taylor left. In between he recorded a star studded solo affair that stands up as a case study what you can do when your best friends are rock stars.

Just look at the personnel listing according to Wikipedia:

* Ron Wood: vocals, guitar, percussion

* Keith Richards: guitar, vocals, percussion

* Mick Jagger: vocals, guitar

* Willie Weeks: bass

* Andy Newmark: drums

* Ian McLagan: organ, piano, synthesizer

* Sterling: steel drums

* Ross Henderson: steel drums

* Mick Taylor: bass, guitar, organ, synthesizer

* George Harrison: guitar, backing vocals; unconfirmed

* Jean Roussell: organ, piano

* Pete Sears: bass, celeste

* Micky Waller: drums

* Martin Quittenton: guitar

* Rod Stewart: backing vocals

* Ruby Turner: backing vocals

* Ireen & Doreen Chanter: backing vocals

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Sloan – Parallel Play

Sloan - Parallel PlaySloanParallel Play (Yep Rock)

I took some heat a while ago for saying that Sloan‘s quest to sound like the Beatles was bordering on parody. Never Hear the End of It had some totally cool songs, but I still think that too many Fab elements leave you sounding more like the Rutles than the Beatles.

So, did the Canadians take my advice and dial back the Liverpudlian a bit? Not really, but for some reason it works this time. Maybe it’s that the songs are better, or maybe it’s because I am in deep into another of my frequent Beatle deep dives. I don’t know, but I like this album MUCH better than the last.

Album opener “Believe in Me” kicks off with some tasty guitar strums that are what Class A amps were made to create. Backed up with some Marc Bolan-like drums, “Believe” delivers three minutes and eighteen seconds of boogie and a healthy dose of snark. It’s the best opening track for Sloan since One Chord to Another’s “Good in Everyone” and that’s saying something!

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