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Beatles Ready for Legal Downloading Soon

The Beatles | Police at Live 8 | Grammys

Beatles Ready for Downloading

The Beatles songs — all of them — will be offered for downloading soon. That’s what Neil Aspinall, the head of Apple Corps Ltd. and the man who’s protected the Beatles legacy for the last 40 years — told me over the weekend.

“All 13 core albums, the ones originally released on CD in 1987, have been remastered," Aspinall told me. "At some point they will all be released, probably at the same time.”

But the film “Let It Be” remains in DVD purgatory, Aspinall says. The reason? “The film was so controversial when it first came out. When we got halfway through restoring it, we looked at the outtakes and realized: this stuff is still controversial. It raised a lot of old issues.”

All rock groups — all musicians and artists — should have a protector as devoted or committed as Aspinall. He’s never sold out the group or their legacy, but instead has been their fierce protector for nearly four decades.

Where others might have had the temptation to just cash out and take the billions of dollars being offered for one venture or another, Aspinall has proceeded with incredible care and caution.

John Lennon and George Harrison especially must be smiling at the thought of Aspinall keeping their names away from crass endeavors.

It was Aspinall who guided the Cirque du Soleil project, “Love,” which is not only a hit in Las Vegas but is a bestselling CD as well. It’s the only album that EMI Music can claim as a hit from this past Christmas.

Aspinall did confirm for me that not everything from the show is on the CD. “A lot of the transitions wouldn’t fit,” he said. And there will not be a DVD of the magnificent show at the Mirage.

“The Mirage doesn’t want it,” he said. “They want people to come see it.”

Now that Aspinall has “won” his longstanding lawsuit with Apple Inc. (formerly Apple Computer), he says downloaded Beatle songs will be coming to us soon.

If you missed it, Apple Corps. sued Apple Computer in 2002 over trademark violations after signing a 1991 agreement — and Steve Jobs paying the Beatles about $43 million.

Jobs et al won, but the case went to appeal. Before the appeals court could make a ruling, a settlement was reached.

The Beatles, sources say (and not Aspinall, whom I didn't even discuss this with), may have won royalties on Apple iTunes/iPod hardware as part of the settlement.

The settlement didn’t address downloading. But now Aspinall says that when the Beatles songs do get put on the Internet officially, “it will be on all the services, not just one.” So all the Beatles songs will be found on iTunes, Rhapsody, etc. That’s very “PC” of him!

And those 13 remastered albums? They will not include “Hey Jude,” a 1969 compilation album that Americans of a certain age fondly recall and keep in their collections on vinyl only.

Aspinall said he’d kind of forgotten about it.

“Do you know that Allen Klein” — who represented Lennon back then in the U.S. — “screwed that up!" Aspinall said. "He reversed the photos. The back picture was supposed to be the cover!”

Live 8 Part 2, Ready to Roll — With Police

The Police are announcing their world tour this morning, 11 a.m. PT in Hollywood at the Whisky a Go Go.

But don’t be surprised if part of their announcement includes a stop at Live 8, Part 2, or what’s being called 07-07-07. It’s seven concerts in seven cities on seven continents, all to bring awareness of global warming. The international event is tied to former Vice President Al Gore’s participation.

The 07-07-07 event is being produced by Harvey Goldsmith, the U.K. wonder who put together Live Aid in 1985 and Live 8 in 2005. But Bob Geldof is not involved, sources tell me.

Right now, organizers are trying to line up the Washington, D.C., mall for a mega concert that I’m told will feature the Police. If the mall is unavailable, second choice would be Shea Stadium, scene of the group’s great success in 1983.

Meantime, the Police really had a huge response at last night’s Grammys when they opened the show playing “Roxanne.”

The Grammy Awards show at the Staples Center sold out in record time, probably thanks to Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. Nearly everyone in the place mentioned the reunion as their reason for being there.

Interestingly, the trio was offered at least two other spots on last night’s show, including a second song and the option to present Best Album. But they declined, the idea being that keeping things to a minimum was more “mysterious.”

The group, and spouses, spent much of the show bottled up in a backstage dressing suite where they watched the broadcast and entertained old friends like Stevie Wonder and Chris Botti.

One poignant moment occurred when Ian Copeland, Stewart’s brother, was shown during the In Memoriam segment. Applause broke out spontaneously, and Stewart was said to be very moved that NARAS included his brother.

Grammys Back to NYC; Record Execs Honored

The word last night is that the Grammys will head back to New York next year for a 50th anniversary celebration. They will likely go to Madison Square Garden.

What about the inclement weather? My advice: Hold them after, not before, the Oscars, during the first week of March.

Make it part of a package with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And have a tribute to the doo-wop groups that formed the basis of pop music. …

When I was a kid in the early 1970s, A&M Records was a stand-alone company that represented the best in music. I can still recall buying albums with their logo because it meant quality and good music.

Last night after the Grammys, the Academy honored musician Herb Alpert — the A — and Jerry Moss — the M — at a special reception for industry icons. The Police showed up, as did will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas and Sergio Mendes — three generations of A&M artists. It was Mendes’ birthday, too.

Lou Adler, whose Ode Records released Carole King’s albums including "Tapestry" through A&M — was there, even though Carole wasn’t.

Other A&M artists include Sheryl Crow, Joan Armatrading, Procol Harum, Garland Jeffreys, Janet Jackson ("Control"), Cat Stevens, Lee Michaels, Free and my beloved Squeeze.

Don Henley never recorded for A&M but he came by anyway. Joan Baez, whose only hit album — "Diamonds and Rust" — was on A&M, didn’t show up. Oh well.

It was a lovely nostalgic evening, with Imogen Heap giving us a song and Sergio Mendes leading the band.

Jimmy Iovine, whose Interscope inherited A&M after its sale to Polygram and subsequent merger with Universal Music Group, made some nice, funny remarks about Alpert and Moss.

But it was Sting who said it best: “You felt like you could sit on their desks and sing your dreams to them.”

He added about signing with A&M: “We always felt we’d be looked after.”

More from, and on, the Grammys tomorrow. …