The Truth Behind Michael Jackson Betraying Paul McCartney By Buying The Beatles’ Entire Catalogue

Paul McCartney is without a doubt one of the most massively appreciated songwriters and musicians of rock history. Although he rose to fame as the co-founder and bassist of the Beatles, his fame kept increasing even after their disbandment. In fact, he was one of the most popular figures to collaborate with during the late ’70s.

One of the musicians that approached him around that time was Michael Jackson who was in awe of McCartney’s musical genius. Jackson was really into songwriting and was excited to learn from one of the best. The duo created two songs together and developed a strong friendship until Jackson decided to go behind McCartney’s back and buy his song catalog.

Were Paul McCartney And Michael Jackson Friends?

The answer to that question is yes, but it should be added that their friendship didn’t last for long. While working on his album ‘Thriller,’ Jackson also got in the studio with McCartney. As mentioned above, the duo collaborated on two songs, ‘The Girl Is Mine‘ and ‘Say Say Say‘ which were both great hits.

While working on music, they developed a strong bond and McCartney started mentoring Jackson. At times, Michael would ask for advice, and some of the advice McCartney gave him contributed to Jackson’s mainstream success. For instance, it was Paul who encouraged Michael to create appealing music videos and inspired him to work on the record-breaking music video of ‘Thriller’ that much.

Aside from that, McCartney also advised Jackson to get into music publishing. During that conversation, Jackson looked at Paul and said ‘I’m going to get yours,’ which the Beatles icon perceived as a joke. Little did he know that the advice he gave to the young pop-star was going to come back to bite him.

Why Did Michael Jackson Buy The Music Catalogue Of The Beatles?

Following McCartney’s advice, Michael decided to get into buying publishing rights to others’ songs. Some of his first purchases were the Sly Stone collection including ‘Everyday People,’ Len Barry’s ‘1-2-3,’ and Dion DiMucci’s ‘The Wanderer’ and ‘Runaround Sue.’ However, it was his next purchase that really pissed off McCartney.

As you may know, the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership was formed in 1962, back when neither one of the musicians was aware of publishing rights. Thus, although they produced 180 jointly credited songs, none of them legally belonged to them. In the following years, the publishing rights were sold from one corporate entity to another until the mid-’80s, when Paul got a chance to get back what was his.

In the ’80s, Robert Holmes à Court released a statement saying that he was selling the ATV Music Publishing catalog, which comprised of approximately 4000 songs including most of the Beatles’ songs. Hearing this McCartney called Yoko Ono and suggested that they buy it together for $20 million. However, they considered the price too high as Paul and Yoko weren’t billionaires back then.

While trying to figure out how to make the purchase, Michael Jackson stepped in and said he had enough money. He paid approximately $47.5 million and bought the catalog that McCartney rightfully so wanted. That marked the end of their friendship and in later interviews, McCartney said that although he tried to talk about this with Michael, the only response he got was ‘it’s just business, Paul.’

You can listen to the whole story told by McCartney in a series of interviews below.