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Britain: The Beatle Business

2 minute read

Teen-agers are not the only ones swooning over the Beatles. Businessmen are also getting giddy—and no wonder. The Beatles’ second American tour, which ended last week, grossed $1,000,000. In only six weeks, their movie, A Hard Day’s Night, has reaped $5,800,000 in U.S. rentals. Ten million Beatle records have been sold, and the group has just attained its third gold disk (each officially designating 1,000,000 sales for a single release) to surpass Elvis Presley’s two. Last week Britain’s Electric & Musical Industries, the world’s largest recording firm and the world licenser for the Beatle disks, also made a record: it announced that sales for its last fiscal year rose 12% to $265 million. The rise, said Chairman Sir Joseph Lockwood, was due in part to “the outstanding success everywhere of the Beatles.”

Sir Joseph, 59, has also played his part. After a long career as an executive in various flour mills, he was tapped to head E.M.I, in 1954 because of his managerial skills, profitably reorganized and diversified the company. E.M.I. subsidiaries now turn out electronic equipment that ranges from missile guidance systems to hearing aids, make a quarter of Britain’s refrigerators. But records are still a mainstay of the business. E.M.I, dominates the European popular music market with its labels (Parlophone, His Master’s Voice, Odeon, Pathe), also has a strong hold on the single-disk U.S. market through Capitol Records, which last week an nounced a 17% sales rise largely due to Beatle records. What are Sir Joseph’s favorite records? Says he: “The ones that sell.” That means the Beatles.

Thanks to record sales, personal appearances and royalties from such gimmicks as Beatle wallpaper and Beatle sweatshirts, each of the four Beatles is already a pound millionaire. Their manager, who has also become a millionaire, recently turned down flat an offer from an American syndicate to buy the Beatles for $10 million. John, Paul, George and Ringo have earned so much abroad—London’s Daily Mail estimates the amount at as high as $56 million last year—that they have also helped Britain’s shaky balance of payments. “The Beatles have boosted our reserves,” said Board of Trade President Ted Heath, barely suppressing a hearty Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

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