Book Review: You Never Give Me Your Money

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Doggett, Peter. You never give me your money : the Beatles after the breakup. HarperCollins, 2009.

The dust jacket to Peter Doggett’s new book claims that “the world stopped in 1970 when Paul McCartney announced that he was through with the Beatles.” Not exactly. And as Doggett makes clear in You Never Give Me Your Money, quitting the Beatles was not easily done.

This financial and legal story begins in 1967, at the height of the Beatles’ popularity, when the Fab Four owe 3 million pounds in taxes to the UK government. Setting up Apple Corps as a tax dodge, their earnings are now subject to corporation tax rather than personal income tax (94% marginal rate), and their expenses are deductible. The Beatles also envision the holding company as a utopian business empire and they establish companies in music publishing, retailing, tailoring and others, all run by their friends.

Running in parallel is the Beatles’ drama – the petty jealousies, the backbiting, the sex, drugs and Maharishi, and later the financial disputes and litigation, all meticulously researched and excruciatingly detailed. Midway through the book, the weary reader thinks “So break up already.” And that’s the point. The Beatles could not break up. The business arrangements made years earlier had locked them into a continuing melodrama, like a dysfunctional family. There was no divorcing each other.

For serious Beatles fans and for those interested in the entertainment industry.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.


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