Release of historic 'lost' Beatles recordings halted

by Jay Weaver

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

3 April 2008


A London company representing The Beatles won an initial legal battle on Wednesday to stop a Miami Lakes business from releasing rare live recordings of the group at a German club in 1962.

Apple Corps Limited and Fuego Entertainment, Inc. struck an agreement filed in Miami federal court that requires Fuego to halt plans to release eight song recordings featuring Ringo Starr on drums as a Beatle for the first time.

The injunction also requires Fuego to remove any information about the planned music release from its Web site, which has featured a sales pitch to customers to buy the CD. And it requires Fuego to cease any use of the trademark, The Beatles, for commercial purposes.

The preliminary injunction remains in effect until a lawsuit is resolved.

Apple’s lawyers said Fuego and its partners have no right to release the Hamburg Star-Club music, stressing the historic recordings were made surreptitiously without The Beatles’ permission. Those gigs in late 1962 - following the group’s hit single “Love Me Do” - are believed to be the first live performances of the Fab Four.

The dispute started in January, when Fuego Entertainment, along with a British promoter, announced plans to sell the eight “lost” club recordings of The Beatles. In addition to obtaining the temporary injunction, Apple is also seeking $15 million in the lawsuit filed against Fuego, its president, Hugo Cancio, and the company’s partner, British promoter Jeffrey Collins.

Cancio and Collins - partners in Echo-Fuego Music Group - have contended they have the legal rights to the Star-Club music.

“I think their agreeing to an injunction was a rational step,” Apples’ New York attorney, Paul LiCalsi, said Wednesday. He and Miami lawyer Richard Wolfe filed the suit last month.

“They are finally coming to terms with the fact that The Beatles never gave permission to record this material and The Beatles are never going to give Fuego permission to exploit it,” LiCalsi said. “We’re looking forward to proving our damages, which resulted from their recording infringement.”

No trial date has been set for the case, which is being handled by U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler.

Although pop music’s most famous group broke up long ago - and two of its members have died - The Beatles and their survivors have fought alleged recording infringements in Europe and the United States for decades.

In the Miami suit, Apple claims Fuego’s planned sale of “inferior quality recordings of Beatles performances ... tarnishes the extraordinarily valuable image” of the band.

At the core of the lawsuit: a 15-track album that boasts eight songs never released as an LP or single. Among the claimed recordings: McCartney singing Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues” and George Harrison vocalizing Maurice Williams’ “Do You Believe” - along with McCartney and John Lennon on Ask Me Why.

The other songs: “Twist and Shout,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Hippy Hippy Shake,” “A Taste of Honey” and “Money.”

In a recent interview, Fuego’s president defended the company right to release the rare live songs.

“We legally obtained these recordings from Jeffrey Collins,” Cancio said.

Collins, reached at his company in Coral Springs, Fla., declined to comment on how he obtained the Hamburg club recordings.

In an earlier press release, Fuego asserted the Star-Club recorded most groups that appeared there in the late 1950s and early 1960s under performance contracts. Many of these recordings were released by the record label Polydor. The historic recordings with Starr were sold in 1994 to Collins, who sought them out because of a “renewed interest” in The Beatles, according to the Fuego release.

Fuego, a publicly traded company that acquires, produces and distributes music, unveiled its joint venture with Collins on its Web site on Jan. 10.

The company said the tapes of The Beatles’ live performances at the Star-Club were “hand-delivered to Mr. Collins by the DJ he had booked into the Star-Club the night the recordings were made.”

Topics: the beatles
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