Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson formed an unlikely friendship during the 1980s. That is until a multi-million dollar business deal soured everything.
The two first met when the former Beatles singer wrote “Girlfriend” for the King of Pop. They later recorded multiple duets, including “The Girl is Mine”, “The Man”, and “Say Say Say”.
With Thriller making Jackson crazy rich, he asked McCartney for money advice. McCartney told him music publishing was a good way to go.
Jackson jokingly told him “one day, I’ll own your songs.”
You see, McCartney owned music from many other artists. But he did not own the Beatles’ music. At one point both he and John Lennon owned a piece of the company which did. But their other partners sold their shares to ATV Music, and McCartney and Lennon were bought out without warning.
In 1981, McCartney and Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono made a failed bid to buy the catalogue. In 1984 Jackson was tipped off about its availability. This time a sale went through—for $47.5 million.
McCartney wasn’t happy.
“I think it’s dodgy to do something like that,” McCartney said. “To be someone’s friend and then buy the rug they’re standing on.”
When questioned by McCartney, Jackson replied, “that’s just business, Paul.”