The music of The Beatles is finally available on online music retailer iTunes, after what Apple’s Steve Jobs described as “a long and winding road.
“The Beatles. Now on iTunes,” Apple.com announced in large black letters above a full screen picture of the “Fab Four” — Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — from their heyday in the 1960s.
“We’re really excited to bring the Beatles’ music to iTunes,” McCartney said. “It’s fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around.”
The vast catalog of Beatles hits has been barred for years from Internet download sites amid legal squabbles, although their songs have long circulated as unlicensed downloads available from peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.
The announcement that the Beatles were making their legal Web debut on iTunes came from Apple Corps, the Beatles’ company, EMI Group, their record label, and Apple, maker of the Macintosh computer, the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
Starr, the Beatles drummer and only other surviving member of the band, sounded relieved.
“I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes,” Starr said in a press release. “At last, if you want it — you can get it now — The Beatles from Liverpool to now!”
Besides Starr and McCartney, the iTunes agreement also received the blessing of the widows of Lennon and Harrison — Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.
“In the joyful spirit of ‘Give Peace A Chance,’ I think it is so appropriate that we are doing this on John’s 70th birthday year,” Yoko Ono said.
Lennon, who was born on October 9, 1940, was shot dead outside his Manhattan apartment in December 1980. Harrison died of cancer in November 2001.
“The Beatles on iTunes — Bravo!” said Olivia Harrison.
Jobs, Apple’s chief executive and an avowed Beatles fan, said “we love the Beatles and are honored and thrilled to welcome them to iTunes.
“It has been a long and winding road to get here,” he said. “Thanks to the Beatles and EMI, we are now realizing a dream we’ve had since we launched iTunes 10 years ago.”
All 13 Beatles studio albums — from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” to “Abbey Road” to “Revolver” to “The White Album” are for sale on iTunes — 12.99 dollars for a single album and 19.99 dollars for a double album.
Fans can also purchase individual songs for 1.29 dollars each.
Also available through iTunes is a comprehensive “Beatles Box Set” for 149 dollars which features the 13 studio albums plus a video of the Beatles first US concert, “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964.”
EMI Group chief executive Roger Faxon called the arrival of the Beatles on iTunes a “great milestone in the development of digital music.”
The Beatles founded London-based Apple Corps in 1968 and it has administered their catalog since then, racking up sales of over 600 million records, tapes and compact discs.
Apple Corps was involved in a long-running trademark dispute with Apple, the California-based gadget-maker, which was finally resolved in 2007.
That agreement raised hopes that the Beatles would make an appearance soon on iTunes but it took another three years of tortuous negotations between EMI, Apple and Apple Corps before it finally came about.
Individual Beatles tracks began climbing the ranks of iTunes top-selling songs within hours of going on sale.
“Let It Be,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Blackbird,” “In My Life,” “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “Come Together” all quickly cracked the top 100 list.
On the album list, “Abbey Road” had taken over the number eight spot while the “White Album” was number 12 followed by “Sgt. Pepper’s” at number 14 and the Beatles box set at number 15.