Julian Lennon sells stake in Beatles’ music

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Julian Lennon sold a share of his financial stake in Beatles songs co-written by his late father to a New York music publishing firm in a deal announced Friday.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but Primary Wave Music Publishing said its acquisition represented a significant share of Julian Lennon’s economic interest in the songs.

The deal does not apply to any of John Lennon’s solo compositions.

John Lennon and partner Paul McCartney wrote most of the Beatles’ biggest hits, among them “Hey Jude,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “All You Need Is Love.”

Songwriters and their music publisher share royalties when a song is licensed for use in a film, television commercial or other use.

The agreement does not affect McCartney’s songwriting stake. Nor does it affect the overall ownership of the Lennon-McCartney publishing rights, which is how their compositions and recordings are sold or licensed. Those rights still reside with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a joint venture between Sony Corp. and Michael Jackson, while Britain’s EMI Group PLC owns the rights to the legendary group’s master recordings. Primary Wave’s deal essentially gives the firm a cut of Julian Lennon’s share of the royalties only.

The upstart Primary Wave has made a big splash in the music biz in its year of existence.

In March 2006, the firm made headlines for paying Courtney Love $50 million to acquire a 50 percent interest in the music-publishing rights of late husband Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana songs. Primary Wave subsequently licensed a number of the grunge band’s songs for use in videogames and other commercial outlets.

Julian Lennon gained his financial interest in the Beatles compositions after his father’s death. John Cousins, the younger Lennon’s business manager, said under U.S. copyright law the songwriter’s interest in John Lennon’s compositions was passed to his heirs — Julian Lennon; his half-brother, Sean Lennon and John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono.

As part of the deal with Julian Lennon, Primary Wave will help the singer market his next album, said Larry Mestel, the firm’s chief executive.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Julian Lennon and to own a piece of music history,” said Mestel. “John Lennon’s Beatles songs were simply some of the greatest songs ever written and will continue to inspire future generations of music fans.”

Julian Lennon is the son of John Lennon and his first wife, Cynthia. John Charles Julian Lennon was born at 7:45 a.m. on April 8, 1963 at Sefton General Hospital. He was named after John Lennon’s mother Julia. Baby Julian’s arrival was sandwiched between the first two Beatle No.1’s, “Please, Please Me,” No. 1 on March 22 and “From Me To You,” which topped the charts on April 27.

Any bond that might have established itself between father and son was stolen the night of December 8, 1980 when John Lennon was murdered; Julian was only a mere 17 years of age.

Julian dropped out of school, and the following year moved to London where he stayed with Elton John’s percussionist, Ray Cooper. The six-month period he stayed with Ray helped him find some direction.

In September 1983, Julian anonymously sent a tape to Charisma Records in the UK. Head of the label, Tony Stratton Smith, was impressed and signed Julian. Similarly impressed, Julian was simultaneously signed by Atlantic Records in the U.S.

Despite achieving multi-million sales with his four albums, Julian wasn’t happy. The demands of the record company, the pressure to produce albums before he was ready and the relentless touring had taken its toll and he decided to take a break from the business and put his life back together.

His hiatus from the music business lasted seven years. During that time he indulged his other interests – sailing, traveling and drawing. He also took time out to pursue his environmental concerns. In April 1994, Julian and his friend Kim Kindersley co-conceived the documentary “Eyes of the Soul – Legends of Whales, Dolphins and Tribes.” The film, which is a work in progress, aims to highlight man’s responsibility to the natural world.

In time his love of music meant that he started playing seriously again. The result was his fifth and most recent album, “Photograph Smile,” which was released through his own label, Music From Another Room. It was issued in the UK, Australia and Japan in 1998 and the following year in the US and Europe.

“I felt it was the appropriate time to take on a partner for both my interest in my father’s legendary music and for my future music endeavors,” Julian Lennon said in a statement.