Playbill

Great Moments in Douchebaggotry: Michael Jackson Takes Paul McCartney's Advice... In the Douchiest Way Possible

Great Moments in Douchebaggery is brought to you by Rocks Off's upcoming Washington Shore party, Thursday, February 11, at the Washington Avenue Drinkery. All types of douchebags are encouraged to attend.

In the early '80s, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson were good friends. They recorded two successful duets together, "Say Say Say" and "The Girl Is Mine," both fairly awful songs, but the chemistry on them is undeniable; both performers clearly had a great time working together. It's just too bad Paul felt the need to impart financial advice to a man who, history shows, likely had no concept of the relationship between actions and consequences.

As often happens in conversations between millionaires, the subject of money came up. After Jackson stated that, each morning, he was forced to fire slightly fewer hundred dollar bills from his Happy Morning-time Wake-Up Money Cannon, McCartney mentioned that the real money was in royalties. Buy up the sheet music to classic songs, and you've made an investment that will pay off immediately, and for as long as the songs are popular.

Jackson may have been naïve about a great many things - business ethics, for instance - but the man did grow up inside the music industry, and the wheels didn't turn for long inside the King of Pop's head before he figured out how best to heed Paul's advice: Why, buy his songs right out from under him! Which, in 1985, is exactly what Jackson did, shelling out $47.5 million for the rights to somewhere between 159 and 251 Beatles songs.

What did that mean, exactly? It meant Sir McCartney had to pay Michael royalties to perform his own goddamn material. During his 1989 tour, McCartney was mortified to learn that he would have to get Jackson's permission to print the lyrics of the songs he had written in his tour program. Ouch.

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John Seaborn Gray