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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 17:20 GMT
Stars prove chart immortality
Late R&B singer Aaliyah is number one in the UK
By arts correspondent David Sillito

Thirty years after reaching number one for the first time, My Sweet Lord is back on sale - and expected to do rather well.

Record producer Steve Levine told the BBC: "He was the first solo Beatle to have a number one record.

"I remember, when I was at school, it was a fantastic number one record. I think it's a way of grieving - you go out and rush and buy the record."

Kurt Cobain
Nirvana's sales went up after Kurt Cobain's death

Beatles addicts will be the first in the queue, fuelling the huge and often growing sales of stars who have died or long since stopped recording.

"Anything I can get my hands on, I'm buying," said fan Alan Harrington. "The 60s music is great music - it's the best music of all."

The figures are indeed extraordinary.

For instance, Jimi Hendrix has sold more records in the last three years than he did in his entire recording career.

The Doors' Jim Morrison's grave in Paris
The Doors' Jim Morrison's grave is practically a shrine

Nirvana have sold 40 million records since the death of Kurt Cobain. And then there is Elvis Presley - who has sold a mere 300 million since his death.

But it is not just the stars of years ago.

Aaliyah was only just at the beginning of her career when she died last year - and her single has been sent to the top of the charts this week.

Tragedy sells records - but these huge legacies don't always end up in the right hands.

Levine explains: "I think, historically, a lot of the artists from the 60s and 70s - particularly a lot of the soul artists - have lost out.

The song is taken from the All Things Must Pass album
All Things Must Pass is considered Harrison's best album

"There have generally been phenomenally large amounts of compilation albums, and the value of those compilations has been reduced dramatically.

"So there's a great soul heritage where perhaps the original owners of the copyright may not be compensating the artists correctly."

But it is not a problem for the Beatles.

Even before George Harrison's death, the band was doing rather well.

Their latest compilation was the biggest selling record of the year on America's Billboard chart.

That is something they never managed to do during the heyday of Beatlemania, in the 60s.

Hear a clip from My Sweet Lord
George Harrison
See also:

11 Jan 02 | Reviews
This week's singles: Your views
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