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Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
Epstein 'wanted Beatles fortune'
Ringo Starr, Sir Paul McCartney and George Harrison
The three surviving Beatles collaborated on the work
The Beatles were asked to sign a contract by manager Brian Epstein which would have earned them just 100,000 each over their entire career, the band's autobiography says.

The book is published on Thursday and some shops are opening from midnight on Wednesday, expecting massive demand.

He once tried to get us to sign a deal saying he would guarantee us 50-a-week forever and he would keep the rest

George Harrison
The early disclosures from The Beatles Anthology coincide with the rejection of a parole attempt by John Lennon's killer Mark Chapman.

The autobiography tells how the late Epstein offered to pay the four band members a fixed wage and wanted to get them to agree to a 50-a-week deal for life, instead of the millions they actually earned.

He hoped to keep the rest of the band's earnings for himself in return for guiding the group to stardom, the band say.

The surviving Beatles - George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Sir Paul McCartney - worked with Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow, to compile the story of the band in their own words.

Weekly earnings

In the book, Harrison says: "We got 25 a week in the early Sixties when we were first with Brian Epstein, when we played the clubs.

"My dad earned 10 a week, so I was earning two-and-a-half times more than my father

"Then we started earning much more, but Brian would keep it and pay us wages.

"He once tried to get us to sign a deal saying he would guarantee us 50-a-week forever and he would keep the rest.

"We thought, `No we'll risk it, Brian. We'll risk earning a bit more than 50 a week'."

Marijuana 'myth'

The book also dismisses the popular myth that it was American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan who turned the band on to marijuana when they smoked it with him in the US in 1964.

Harrison says: "We first got marijuana from an older drummer with another group in Liverpool."

Bob Dylan
Dylan was rumoured to have introduced the band to marijuana
"I remember we smoked it in the band room in a gig in Southport and we all learnt to do the Twist that night.

"Everybody was saying `this stuff isn't doing anything'. It was like that old joke where a party is going on and two hippies are up floating on the ceiling and one is saying to the other `this stuff doesn't work, man'."

Quotes included in the book from the late Lennon - who would have been 60 next week - suggest they first tried the drug in 1960.

The 35, 350,000-word volume has already attracted more than 1.5 million orders.

The book is being published around the world simultaneously.

As well as the recollections of each member of the band - Lennon's input being the scores of interviews he did over the years - there are reminiscences from producer Sir George Martin, roadie turned head of their company Neil Aspinall and the late Derek Taylor, their long-time press officer.

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See also:

03 Oct 00 | Americas
Lennon killer denied parole
29 Sep 00 | Entertainment
McCartney art makes UK debut
01 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Beatles tell of yesterdays
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