The release next week> of the videogame The Beatles: Rock Band is a testament to the Fab Four's lasting influence on popular culture. It has been almost 40 years since the breakup of the seminal rock group, but the videogame industry is betting that it can still pack a house.
It s not a wild bet. Paul McCartney's sold-out concert series this summer, Cirque du Soleil's popular Love show in Las Vegas, and an old hit Beatles song in a commercial all speak to the band s persistent relevance; it s hard to go anywhere these days without encountering a Beatles moment.
There has always been an audience for Beatles-related items like board games, coffee mugs and hairpieces. But as the band s legend grew, so did the array of opportunities to own a stake in that legacy. Today, investors can buy shares in companies involved in Beatles businesses or put money toward assets touched by the band, including real estate and philanthropy.
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When The Beatles: Rock Band hits stores on Sept. 9, it will join a Harmonix lineup that includes the mega-selling Rock Band series. Rock Band and Guitar Hero have been a boon to active musicians as well as groups that are no longer active, such as Talking Heads, which licensed the use of their songs for the game. Electronic Arts (ERTS),
Total album sales were down 14% last year, according to Nielsen, but the Beatles are still making waves in the CD area. The group helped lift CD revenues more than 20 years ago when it first released its albums on CD. And because the Beatles have been reluctant to jump into the digital arena for now, the release next week of the band's re-mastered CDs could persuade eager fans to buy their umpteenth copy of The White Album. The appearance of a group's music on Rock Band has led to an increase in sales of that band's songs, so expect another bump in Beatles CD sales after The Beatles: Rock Band hits stores. That should benefit Capitol/EMI, which is releasing the discs.
Paul and his late wife were vegetarians (Paul still is), and on his current tour, Paul has dedicated songs to Linda keeping her name in the zeitgeist. Vegetarianism is no longer considered the niche bohemian lifestyle choice that it was when Linda first introduced Paul to it decades ago. Today, an estimated six to eight million Americans are vegetarians, up from roughly two million in 1994, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit educational organization. Hain Celestial Group (HAIN),
A couple of years ago, the Beatles' company Apple Corps and Apple (AAPL)
The celebrity and rock-and-roll memorabilia market is thriving, and recent sales of Beatles merchandise have been quite successful. The white suit that John Lennon wore for the cover of "Abbey Road" sold at Julian's Auctions for $117,600 a few years ago and the brown velvet jacket Lennon wore for "Imagine" sold for $32,400 topping the auction house's estimate of $20,000. Now, R.R. Auction, based in Amherst, N.H., is selling a September 1966 issue of Datebook magazine signed by Lennon, which features the Lennon quote, I don t know which will go first Rocknroll or Christianity. Though his middle name is Winston, Lennon used the signature John C. Lennon, stoking more controversy after a separate interview in which he called the Beatles more popular than Jesus. The auction house says it expects the magazine to sell for more than $10,000, though as of Friday morning the online bid stood at $1,598.
The landmark Renaissance-style building at 1 West 72nd Street on Manhattan's Upper West Side overlooking Central Park has always been a desirable and exclusive residence, but Beatles fans know it as the building where John Lennon lived with Yoko Ono and in front of which he was shot 29 years ago. Despite the real-estate downturn, apartments in the Dakota are still in demand; one sold for more than $20 million in 2008. Now, four Dakota apartments are listed at prices ranging from $5.9 million (for a one-bedroom pad with three baths and 6.5 rooms) to $18.5 million (for a 10-room, four-bedroom, 3.5-bath residence with six fireplaces).
Remember the Concert for Bangladesh back in 1971, which George Harrison organized to help with relief efforts after a cyclone? That was just part of the Beatles philanthropic efforts; their individual websites include links to their charities. Harrison died eight years ago, but his causes endure through the Material World Foundation, which he founded in 1973. An upcoming Bonhams auction will include a 2008 replica of a Mini Cooper that Beatles manager Brian Epstein gave to Harrison in 1966; the proceeds will go to the Harrison charity.
Paul on bass, George on lead, John on rhythm guitar and Ringo on drums. We know that. And many fan boys have grown up coveting the instruments that the Beatles played. To coincide with the release of The Beatles: Rock Band, Harmonix and MTV Games are selling replicas of the instruments played by John Lennon and George Harrison a Rickenbacker 325 and Gretsch Duo Jet guitar as standalone controllers for the game. As more music gamers become musicians, sales of actual Rickenbacker guitars and H fner violin basses (Paul s signature instrument) are likely to pick up, too.