Home Music Paris Jackson Ironic Tweet of Beatles Song: She Owns It

Paris Jackson‘s tragic suicide attempt was punctuated by her many Tweets. Ironically, the last one she sent out before all hell broke loose was a quote from the Beatles song “Yesterday.” And the irony is, Paris owns the song. She inherited with her two brothers ownership of the Beatles catalog famously owned by her late father Michael Jackson and fought over for the last twenty years.

It was Michael Jackson’s purchase of the publishing rights of 251 songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1985 for $47.5 million. Jackson was able to buy the song catalog from the stunning amount of money he’d earned from “Thriller.” In what is now an historic conversation, McCartney had mentioned to Jackson while they were recording together that the song catalog was for sale. McCartney and Yoko Ono couldn’t come to terms on a price. Jackson’s lawyer, John Branca, swept in and bought the publishing company called ATV Music.

McCartney never spoke to Jackson again. In 1995, Jackson and Branca merged ATV with Sony Music’s moribund publishing company, forming Sony ATV Music. Jackson received $90 million in cash as well. From then on, Jackson used his ownership stake in Sony ATV as a piggy bank to finance his outsize spending and larger than life lifestyle. In the process, he racked up over $300 million in loan debts that were only brought under control after his death.

Paris’s final pre-suicide attempt Tweet was a quote from “Yesterday,” the jewel in the Sony ATV crown. She wrote “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they’re here to stay.” Paris always chooses song lyrics to express her feelings on Twitter– like a lot of teens. But most teens don’t also own the copyright to the song they’re quoting.

It was a shrewd move. For years “Yesterday” has held the record of most played song in the world. My guess is more radio stations are playing the song today– and sending royalties to the Jackson estate.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
4 replies to this post
  1. McCartney was too cheap to buy back the catalog he sold, and he’s been ‘dining out’ on the lie that Michael Jackson took advantage of him ever since. He even retold that tale on David Letterman the day after MJ died. He’s despicable.

  2. “The Beatles songs were let go by the writers themselves.” That’s wrong. John and Paul NEVER owned their own songs. So they never “let them go.” They were young and naive about the music business and were pressured to sign agreements that benefited businessmen and lawyers.

    And Jackson’s behavior was a complete betrayal of his friendship with Paul. Paul had encouraged Michael to invest in music. But Michael secretly bid on the Beatles catalog. And some say Yoko was behind this. She told Michael how much to bid in order to outbid Paul. After all, Yoko didn’t need to own the songs; she already got more than her share as John’s widow.

    Not that Paul is hurting for cash but still. A songwriter should own his own songs.

  3. I have never understood why some people think it is fine for Paul McCartney to buys songs , but not MJ.
    The Beatles songs were let go by the writers themselves.
    It was up for sale and he bought it,, same as Paul had done countless times.
    MJ didnt steal or inherit the money he used , he worked for every dime since he was a small child.
    And some of the music that came with that purchase was given back to artists like Little Richard , by MJ,which I believe was worth about 3 million a year.

  4. Roger, I don’t think Paul actually told MJ his catalogue was for sale. I believe he mentioned that buying the rights to songs was a lucrative business move and when his own music was available, Jackson and Branca listened to his advice. And, as we now know, McCartney had first dibs on the songs but declined purchase. Yoko, at the time, expressed pleasure that Jackson purchased the catalogue.

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