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Wednesday, May 6, 1998 Published at 21:26 GMT 22:26 UK


Beatles bootleg battle
image: [ George Harrison: many people claimed to know more about the Beatles than they did ]
George Harrison: many people claimed to know more about the Beatles than they did

Former Beatle George Harrison has been giving evidence in a courtroom battle over an amateur recording of the group made at the beginning of their fame.

Watch Chris West's report from the High Court
Mr Harrison, Ringo Starr, Sir Paul McCartney and John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, are asking a High Court judge to ban sales of a CD produced from tapes made in 1962.

It was made by Edward Taylor, leader of obscure 1960s band King Size Taylor and The Dominoes, when he was playing a double bill at Hamburg's Star Club with the Beatles.

The BBC's Emma Simpson reports from the court:"The evidence has been entertaining" (1'50")
He claimed to be a close friend of the band and that John Lennon had verbally agreed to allow him to record the Fab Four's performance.

Mr Harrison, 54, appeared in the witness box dressed in a dark suit, blue shirt and white T-shirt.

He told the courtroom Ted Taylor was not a close friend of The Beatles, just someone who played in the same club.

[ image: At the height of Beatlemania in 1965, the Fab Four were honoured with MBEs]
At the height of Beatlemania in 1965, the Fab Four were honoured with MBEs
The multi-millionaire guitarist said it had been "a lot of teenagers getting drunk playing rock and roll".

He added: "We didn't ask him to do it, we never heard them (the recordings), we never had anything to do with them - and that's the story."

Mr Harrison added that people looking back on those days tended to say more than they knew.

"In the Beatles' case, we've always had far too much said about us by people who knew very little."

He said he did not have a specific recollection of playing at The Star Club in December 1962.

"I have an image of that period and of certain things which took place.

"Unlike the experts who wallow in Beatle trivia I spend a lot of time getting the junk out of my mind through meditation so I don't know or remember - I don't want to know or remember - every last detail because it was trivial pursuit."

Long and winding road

The recording was made on the Beatles' last trip to the German club shortly after they had signed with EMI Records and were enjoying their first hit, Love Me Do.

George Harrison had told Mr Justice Neuberger that the recording was the "crummiest" ever made in the group's name.

Lingasong Music Ltd is claiming that they have the rights to exploit the tape because John Lennon, who was shot dead in New York in 1980, gave his verbal consent at the time.

"One drunken person recording another bunch of drunks does not constitute business deals," Mr Harrison told the judge.

He added: "The only person who allegedly heard anything about it is the one person who is dead, who can't actually come here and say it's a load of rubbish.

"We had a record contract and we were on a roll. The last thing we needed was one little bedroom recording to come out."

The current action is being made under the 1989 Copyright Act which gives more protection to artists and writers. The case is expected to last all week.

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