This year, it’s the fact that he is on the top 10 list of dead celebrities. According to Forbes:
No. 7: John Lennon
Died: Dec. 8, 1980
It was a big year for the Beatles, especially for the songwriter behind many of the band’s most famous songs. In September, Electronic Arts and MTV Games released The Beatles: Rock Band, allowing fans to jam along with a virtual version of the band and download additional albums for $17. As well, the Fab Four’s music was repackaged and remastered in a 16-disc box set that went on sale in September. LOVE, the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show featuring the group’s music, still reels fans into The Mirage
Add to that John’s widow Yoko Ono licensing his song “Real Love” to be used by JC Penney in television ads, and her giving Ben & Jerry’s ice cream permission to release a Lennon-inspired flavor called “Imagine Whirled Peace.”
Oh, since I know you need to know, the top-earning dead celebrity is French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who “earned $350 million in the past year. Much of his estate was auctioned off at Christie’s in February. Laurent died of brain cancer in June 2008.” So his #1 status probably won’t be maintained.
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein rank second with combined earnings of $235 million. Why are they considered as one unit, I don’t know. Both of them composed with others. Anyway, I imagine the revival of South Pacific did not hurt.
Michael Jackson is third with $90 million; I have to assume it’s a reflection of moneys in, since, before his death in June, there were numerous reports about his mounting debt.
Elvis Presley, the perennial leader in this category, is fourth with $55 million, though he made more than in previous years. He’s followed by J.R.R. Tolkien ($50 million), Charles Schulz ($35 million), John Lennon ($15 million), Theodor Geisel -Dr. Seuss ($15 million), Albert Einstein ($10 million) and Michael Crichton ($9 million).
The interesting thing about the Beatles 09/09/09 revival is that it has gotten me newly interested in the Beatles, again. Not that they ever fell very far from my heart. But watching all the specials reinvigorated my ears. Seeing the Paul McCartney ABC special on that aired Thanksgiving night reminded me of Lennon playing the organ with his elbow on I’m Down at Shea Stadium in 1965.
I haven’t actually GOTTEN any new music – the Beatles in Mono box set is on the Christmas list – but just reading about the differences in the recordings, especially the white album has gotten me excited.
Did I ever mention that, years ago, I received a picture of the Imagine square at Strawberry Fields in NYC? It sits over the entryway from the living room to the hallway.
Ah, the picture above is from LIFE again. It’s from 1980, but I didn’t need the caption to know that.