Why George Harrison Thought Dick Clark Was a Greedy Vulture: ‘I’d Be Embarrassed if I Was Him’

George Harrison was not a fan of American radio and television personality Dick Clark. In 1979, the American Bandstand host and “America’s oldest teenager” produced a biographical film called Birth of The Beatles. Clark needed Beatles songs and footage to complete the project, and George didn’t like it.

George didn’t like people who wanted a piece of The Beatles for their own gain.

George Harrison in 1971 and Dick Clark attending the announcement of nominations for the 31st Annual American Music Awards in 2003.
(L-R) George Harrison and Dick Clark | Tim Boxer/Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

George Harrison said Dick Clark hounded The Beatles for clips

During a 1987 interview, J. Kordosh of Creem Magazine told George he’d seen Clark’s documentary. George wasn’t impressed. He said all Clark did was send letters to The Beatles about wanting clips for his own projects. He always wanted a piece of The Beatles, like everyone else. George said Clark was greedy.

George said, “Dick Clark? Not him again. I’ll tell you, I don’t know what Americans think of him, but from the Beatles’ point of view, Dick Clark–­I don’t know what he ever did with his own talent.

“Y’know, all he does is send you letters: ‘Can I have a clip of you doing this? Can I have a clip of you do­ing that? I’m making another movie about you and the history of this and that, and you’re in it and I’ll give you two dollars if you’ll let me have it in.’

“You get to the point of saying, ‘F*** off, Dick, think of your own ideas, you’re not getting any more of our s***. Just make your own films and rip off other people.’ Y’know, he’s a t***.”

Kordosh pointed out, “It would appear rock ‘n’ roll’s done more for him than he’s done for rock ‘n’ roll.” George replied, “Absolutely. I mean, who is he? And you see these albums coming out with all these great rock ‘n’ roll hits on them and
his face on the sleeve? I’d be embar­rassed if I was him.”

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George said Ed Sullivan was just as bad as Clark

It wasn’t only Clark that was greedy, according to George. The former Beatle claimed both Clark and Ed Sullivan were guilty of being greedy vultures. Sullivan was, of course, the host of The Ed Sullivan Show, where The Beatles made their first American televised performance.

Kordosh told George that Clark was a “conglomerate unto himself.” George threw Sullivan’s name into the mix. “Him and Ed Sullivan,” he said. “Ed Sullivan’s been dead about 19 years but he’s still out there making Ed Sullivan Produc­tions. ‘Please, can we have another clip of you doing this? We’ll pay you two dol­lars.’ You know, piss off.”

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Fortunately, The Beatles controlled who got clips

Unfortunately, people like Clark and Sullivan received Beatle material because the band was on bad terms with each other. Then, people came in and took what they wanted without any consequence. Instead of suing each other, The Beatles should have been suing Clark, Sullivan, and whoever else for taking without asking.

“Being split and diversified over the years has made it difficult to consolidate certain Beatles interests,” George told Rolling Stone in 1979. “For example, all those naughty Broadway shows and stupid movies that have been made about the Beatles, using Beatles names and ideas, are all illegal.

“But because we’ve been arguing among ourselves all these years, people have had a free-for-all. Now we’ve gotten to the point where everybody’s agreed and we’ve allocated a company to go out and sue them all. It’s terrible, really.

“People think we’re giving all these producers and people permission to do it and that we’re making money out of it, but we don’t make a nickel. So it’s time that should be stopped.”

After that, The Beatles controlled who got clips of them, but that doesn’t mean the persistence of Clark and Sullivan wasn’t annoying.

“We have control over it, and sometimes you’ll get a decent program,” George told Kordosh. “When they ask ‘Can we have a clip of you doing such­ and­ such?’ you’re inclined to say yes.

“But when you get all these other people who are just like vultures, who amass video clips of all these other peo­ple and sell them around the world, it’s greed and it’s not artistic. It’s just big bus­iness. But we get requests all the time; it’s non­stop.”

Thankfully, The Beatles still had Apple to oversee all of it and to stop people like Clark and Sullivan from getting a piece of the band for their own gain. As George said, didn’t the world get enough of The Beatles?

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