Beatles tribute acts in bizarre legal battle over musical

IN 1970 The Beatles dissolved amid High Court acrimony. Now two Beatles tribute acts are locked in a bizarre legal battle to decide which of them "created" the Fab Four's songs and mop-top haircuts.

The producers of Let It Be, the West End Beatles "jukebox musical", which is about to open on Broadway, are being sued for copyright infringement by a rival Beatles production which claims that it first came up with idea of a show which recreates the band's famous songs and stage appearance.

The creators of Rain, a Beatles tribute show which ran on Broadway for nine months in 2010 and 2011, have filed a lawsuit against Let It Be, a multi-media show featuring a tribute band, which recreates the Beatles's story from their early Cavern Club performances to the band's later psychedelic experiments.

The Rain Corporation contends that Let It Be incorporates elements of Rain, including musical arrangements of the Beatles' hits, the Scouse-inflected stage banter between the four band members and the mop-top hairstyles worn by the actors.

The Rain lawsuit argues the Let It Be, which features 40 of the Beatles greatest hits, including Yesterday, Hey Jude and the title song, uses 28 of the 31 songs previously performed in Rain.

It claims that "the artwork used as background during the performance of many of those songs are similar or identical."

Peter S. Cane, a lawyer for the Let It Be producers, Jeff Parry and Annerin Productions, argued that the copyright claim was absurd. "Let It Be is a tribute to The Beatles, not to the four guys who impersonate the Beatles," he told the New York Times.

Mr Cane asked: "How do you monopolise the ability to present an impersonation of the Beatles? How many different ways can you really do it? The Beatles acted a certain way, they played certain notes, they spoke a certain way."

However the Rain producers said that they and the Let It Be team had initially come together in 2005, forming a 50-50 per cent partnership, to create what became Rain.

Parry wanted to create a London version of Rain and it was this spin-off which ultimately became Let It Be. The Rain Corporation lawsuit said it supplied Let It Be with its script, helped rehearse cast members and even "oversaw the cast's costume fitting and wig cutting/styling."

When the West End show launched, Parry then sent an e-mail saying that the 50-50 partnership agreement was no longer valid and that the Rain creators were now entitled to just 7.125 per cent of the revenue. The Rain Corporation's lawsuit calls for a 50 per cent share from the Broadway production of Let It Be, which opens next week, and any further openings.

The Let It Be producers claim that one point of difference in their show is that it recreates later Beatles songs recorded after the band gave up touring in 1966.

The documentary film Let It Be, which followed the band's troubled 1969 recording sessions, itself captured the tensions between the fractious band members which would lead to the Beatles' break-up. Paul McCartney filed a lawsuit for the dissolution of the Beatles' contractual partnership in December 1970.

Here Comes The Pun: Other Beatles tribute acts

Bootleg Beatles

The "original" tribute act who distil the best of the Fab Four into a 5-act show. Formed in 1980, these soundalikes have been through 9 members with "George" (Andre Barreau) the only ever-present. Headlined Glastonbury 2013 - in the acoustic tent.

The Fab Faux

New York wannabes who formed in 1998 take rare Beatles tracks and add new horn arrangements regardless of the original song's requirements. Founder Will Lee played with three of the Beatles as bassist on the Late Show with David Letterman.


Milwaukee, Wisconsin quartet formed in 2001 to fill void for mash-ups of Beatles and Metallica hits. Highlights include And Justice for All My Loving. Metallica intervened on Beatallica's behalf when Beatles's publishers issued "cease and desist" order.


Popular 90s Manchester band who married Macca's singalong melodies to the acidic vocal delivery of John Lennon, as channelled by Liam Gallagher, in a naked bid to emulate the globe-straddling success of their 60s heroes.