John L. Eastman, Entertainment Lawyer and Force, Dies at 83

A lawyer for musicians and artists, John L. Eastman has represented high-profile clients such as Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, and Willem de Kooning, wielding power in the entertainment world and power struggles for government control. played an important role in The band’s final days of Beatles business died on August 10 in East Hampton, New York. He was 83 years old.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, said his son Lee.

Mr. Eastman and his father named Lee worked with a long roster of famous clients over the years, including Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Bowie, Elton John, Tennessee Williams and the mansion of painter Francis Bacon. I’ve been But of all of them, they were most closely associated with Mr. Eastman and Mr. McCartney, who has been his agent for more than 50 years.

Their connection was professional and personal. Mr. Eastman was the brother of Mr. McCartney’s first wife, Linda McCartney, and Lee was her father.

The Eastmans became embroiled in a battle over the Beatles’ business empire in early 1969. Mr. McCartney hired the Eastmans’ father and son as agents and tried to persuade the three bandmates to take over the group’s affairs. Despite their great success, the Beatles were on the verge of bankruptcy.

But John Lennon and the other Beatles chose another New Yorker to be the group’s manager. Allen Klein, who has worked with Sam Cooke and the Rolling Stones. Mr. Klein had a reputation as a fierce negotiator and was, as Mick Jagger once described him, “a gangster.” His Manhattan townhouse contrasted with the sophisticated Eastman family, where his office was lined with museum-quality paintings such as De Kooning.

Conflicts between Mr. Klein and Mr. and Mrs. Eastman, and disagreements over their men within the group, drained the Beatles for years, even after their official disbandment in 1970.

To break Mr. Klein’s control over the band and secure Mr. McCartney’s independence, Mr. Eastman masterminded a lawsuit filed in London on December 31, 1970 to terminate the Beatles’ partnership agreement. As part of the lawsuit preparations, Mr. Eastman suggested that his brother-in-law wear a suit and tie in court. Mr. McCartney was half-submissive: he showed up in a suit, but without a tie.

Other Beatles reacted to the lawsuit with frustration. and appointed a trustee of The Beatles’ business interests until the dissolution of the partnership was negotiated a few years later.

Early on in his work with Mr. McCartney, the Eastmans later helped found his entertainment company, MPL Communications. He owns many valuable copyrights, including songs by Buddy Holly, Fats Waller, and Carl Perkins, and music publishing rights to Broadway hits such as “Annie” and “Grease.”

Under the guidance of Mr. and Mrs. Eastman, Mr. McCartney also took ownership of all recording and songwriting rights since the breakup of The Beatles. Lee Eastman died in 1991 and Linda McCartney in 1998.

In 2017, Eastman filed a lawsuit against McCartney’s music publisher Sony/ATV (now Sony Music Publishing) to claim U.S. copyrights to Beatles songs he wrote with Lennon. got it back. Citing changes to federal law that allow creators to reclaim those rights after a set period of time. Although the case has been settled, McCartney has registered American ownership of these rights under the MPL.

‘John was a great man,’ says McCartney wrote on twitter Along with a photo of him in a yoga pose with Mr. Eastman last week. “Not only has he helped me tremendously in my legal business dealings, but as a friend, he was unbeatable.”

John Lindner Eastman was born on July 10, 1939 in Manhattan and grew up in Scarsdale, New York, the eldest of four children to Lee and Louise Lindner Eastman. His mother had inherited her fortune from Lindner’s department store in Cleveland.

His father, who changed his name from Leopold Epstein, went on to become a successful attorney representing notable musicians, artists and writers, including bandleader Tommy Dorsey and songwriters Harold Arlen and Hal David.

John Eastman graduated from Stanford University in 1961 and New York University School of Law in 1964. After a brief stint at the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York the following year, he and his father founded Eastman. & Eastman.

They developed a specialty working with pop musicians whose business was struggling under their previous representatives. McCartney aside, he was best known in the late 1980s and early 90s for working with Joel when he sued his former manager and lawyer. The case was resolved, and the Eastmans helped Mr. Joel rebuild his business.

“He was very passionate when it came to defending the rights of artists,” Joel said in a statement to the New York Times. I think,” he said.

Mr. Eastman has served on the boards of many prominent organizations, including the American Museum of Natural History, and two music groups, the American Association of Music Publishers and the Association of American Composers, Writers, and Publishers, known as ASCAP. rice field.

Besides his son Lee, he is survived by his wife Josephine. Another son, Jay. his daughter Louise; Two sisters, Louise Weed and Laura Malcolm. and 11 grandchildren.

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