George Harrison said someone ‘conned’ him into agreeing to the usage of his Beatles song, “Something,” in a commercial. He had firm opinions about how others used his and The Beatles’ songs in advertisements.
George Harrison didn’t want every Beatles song in an advertisement
After The Beatles broke up in 1970, the band fought tremendously about their management, Apple, and many other financial issues. It left the door open for anyone to come in and take what they wanted. Instead of fighting with each other, they should’ve been protecting their catalog.
During all the turmoil, Dick James, their publisher, sold his shares of The Beatles’ publishing company, Northern Songs, without telling them. Suddenly, they had no control over their catalog. In 1985, Michael Jackson bought it from ATV. Then, “Revolution” appeared in a TV commercial.
The Beatles couldn’t control how people used their music. Then, “Revolution” appeared in a TV commercial.
During a 1992 interview with Timothy White for Goldmine, George said he and his bandmates agreed that no Beatles song should be in an advertisement. They had to come together and protect their music.
“It’s just that we can’t let every song or every record that was made by The Beatles end up being an ad,” George said. “We can’t really let that happen, because we tried to have some sort of integrity in The Beatles.
“We were asked to do commercials for years, but we never did that kind of stuff, ’cause we wanted us to be what we were. And we tried to keep a decent image of The Beatles.”
Unfortunately, all of that went out the window.
George said he was ‘conned’ into agreeing to the usage of ‘Something’ in a commercial
“Somebody just, you know, conned me into doing it, really,” George said, “by giving me lots of money. I didn’t really want to do it, but somebody said, ‘Oh, go on do it for a year,’ and all that. So, in a moment of- I just did it to get shot of them. But at least I control it and I allowed them to do it, unlike the songs that we don’t own personally.
“They just had to make up a version. I wouldn’t let them use the original version. I think it’s a bit of a liberty using the original master. It’s not as bad when they make up the sort of Mickey Mouse version.
“Although at the same time, I regret doing it just because I always personally hated that. I hated hearing ‘California Girls’ or something advertising peanuts, but I don’t think it matters too much, though.”
How George Harrison wanted people to use his songs
George was somewhat fine with people using his songs in commercials and other things. However, if they wanted to use his music, they had to record their own versions.
“But as to my own songs, I don’t mind if somebody contacts my publishing and says, you know, they always want ‘Here Comes The Sun‘ to advertise orange juice,” George told White. “I consider it and on some cases I would say OK but they have to make their own version of it. But I’m no more protective than that. I just want to keep my catalog of songs controllable.”
All George wanted was to control his music, which is understandable considering what happened to The Beatles’ music.