Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beatle People: Lee Eastman

Lee Eastman, born Leopold Vail Epstein, (12 January 1910 - 30 July 1991) was a New York show business attorney, the son of Louis (b. Russia ~1887, imm. 1906) and Stella (Freyer) Epstein. His sisters were Emmaline and Rose. He married Louise Linder, heiress to the Linder Department Store fortune; they had four children, including John Eastman and Linda (Eastman) McCartney, the late wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney. Eastman became McCartney's business manager shortly before the breakup of The Beatles while his son John represented McCartney during his 1970 lawsuit to legally dissolve the Beatles. He is the maternal grandfather of potter Heather McCartney, photographer Mary McCartney Donald, fashion designer Stella McCartney Willis, and musician/sculptor James Louis McCartney.

Eastman's involvement with Apple

When the Beatles' company Apple Corps was in business trouble early in 1969, Eastman and Allen Klein were both considered to take the reins of the company, and of the band's careers. John Lennon favored Klein. Lennon said he was impressed that Klein knew Lennon's lyrics, and understood them, and that Klein was very intelligent. George Harrison and Ringo Starr chose Klein, though Lennon said in 1970 that he maneuvered Klein into Apple. McCartney wanted Eastman, but was out-voted 3-1. For a short period, Klein managed Apple and the personal careers of Lennon, Harrison, and Starr while Eastman was the corporate counsel and managed McCartney. The Klein/Eastman combination did not work, and after a contentious meeting, Eastman was out. Subsequent disagreements over decisions made by Klein and the other Beatles prompted McCartney—represented by Eastman—to sue them to dissolve the partnership, and he eventually succeeded.

Klein made some successful deals for the Beatles, and they made more money during their short tenure with Klein than they did while managed by Brian Epstein. Lennon, Harrison, and Starr eventually soured on Klein, and after a series of suits and countersuits, Klein left Apple with a multi-million dollar buyout.

Manager of McCartney

Eastman and his son successfully managed McCartney's solo career, leaving McCartney the wealthiest of the former Beatles. In 1984, McCartney cited one example of advice he received from Eastman:
“The music publishing I own is fabulous. Beautiful. I owe it all to Linda's dad Lee Eastman and her brother John. Linda's dad is a great business brain. He said originally, 'If you are going to invest, do it in something you know. If you invest in building computers or something, you can lose a fortune. Wouldn't you rather be in music? Stay in music.' I said, 'Yeah, I'd much rather do that.' So he asked me what kind of music I liked. And the first name I said was Buddy Holly. Lee got on to the man who owned Buddy Holly's stuff and bought that for me. So I was into publishing now.”

McCartney's music publishing investments have paid off. In 1984, he estimated that half his income came from recording, and half from his music publishing business.


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