Rave Magazine, December 1966.
In this fascinating article from the December 1966 issue of English pop-music magazine RAVE, George Tremlett (a pop music writer and author of various cash-in paperback books on David Bowie, David Essex, and The Who) broke down how much each member of The Beatles were worth back back then.
Armed with data collected from the London Board of Trade, Tremlett was able to ascertain that the fab-four were pulling in approximately £4 million pounds collectively a year with help from such endeavours as record sales, songwriting royalties, films and live appearances. With all that cash floating around you’d think that perhaps the band would had a good grasp on how much they were worth—but John, Ringo and George were fairly clueless when they were asked if they knew how rich they actually were:
John Lennon: We’ve asked them to to tell us how much we’ve got but they can’t—the money comes in from so many places
George Harrison: I never buy anything without asking our accountants—I just phone them up and they tell me whether I can afford it.
Ringo Starr: The accountants say I’m alright—that’s all I want to know.
The English pound sterling was basically a £1 to $2.80 exchange rate back in 1966. £1 in 1966 was equal to £$7.43 in 2016. Considering that the modern music industry was still then in its relative infancy, that’s some amazing earnings, which would only have gotten better for Lennon and McCartney once their songwriting royalties would have picked up in the latter part of the decade. Or at least one would have thought…
Of course that year’s Revolver begins with George Harrison’s lament about the “Taxman” and here’s the rub: The Beatles were in a tax bracket that I cannot imagine most people in Britain found themselves in other than maybe Sean Connery and a few captains of industry. Taxes in 1966 were notoriously confiscatory in Britain in the 1960s reaching as high as 85% for the wealthy, but there was also a “super tax” surcharge of 15% on top of that. For those making over £1,000,000 the progressive tax rate during Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s Labour party administration was 95%. Think about that for a second. No wonder the Beatles seemed to have no idea what state their finances were in.
Rather heartwarming to discover the fact that each of the Fab Four used some of their earnings to purchase homes for their parents (or in John Lennon’s case a home for his Auntie). Awww.
Check out the Beatles cash-flow breakdown after the jump…