John L. Eastman, a lawyer for musicians and artists whose illustration of well-known purchasers like Paul McCartney, Billy Joel and Willem de Kooning made him a drive in the leisure world, and who performed a key half in an influence battle over the management of the Beatles’ enterprise in the final days of the band, died on Aug. 10 in East Hampton, N.Y. He was 83.
The trigger was pancreatic most cancers, mentioned his son Lee, a associate in their longstanding household agency, Eastman & Eastman in Manhattan.
Mr. Eastman and his father, who was additionally named Lee, labored with a protracted roster of big-name purchasers over time, together with Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Bowie, Elton John and the estates of Tennessee Williams and the painter Francis Bacon. But of all of them, the attorneys have been most carefully related to Mr. McCartney, whom Mr. Eastman represented for greater than 50 years.
Their connection was each skilled and private. Mr. Eastman was the brother of Linda McCartney, Mr. McCartney’s first spouse, and Lee was her father.
The Eastmans grew to become concerned in the battle over the Beatles’ enterprise empire in early 1969. Mr. McCartney had employed the Eastmans, father and son, to be his representatives and tried to influence his three bandmates to place them in cost of the group’s affairs. Despite their monumental success, the Beatles have been then getting ready to insolvency.
But John Lennon and the opposite Beatles had chosen one other New Yorker to handle the group: Allen Klein, who had labored with Sam Cooke and the Rolling Stones. Mr. Klein had a popularity as a ferocious negotiator and, as Mick Jagger as soon as described him, a “gangster figure” — the alternative of the refined Eastmans, whose townhouse workplace in Manhattan was lined with museum-quality work by de Kooning and others.
The battle between Mr. Klein and the Eastmans, and the disagreement throughout the group over these males, would eat the Beatles for years to return, even after their official breakup in 1970.
To break Mr. Klein’s grip over the band, and to safe Mr. McCartney’s independence, Mr. Eastman masterminded a lawsuit, filed in London on Dec. 31, 1970, to dissolve the Beatles’ partnership settlement. As a part of their preparations for the case, Mr. Eastman advised that his brother-in-law put on a go well with and tie to court docket. Mr. McCartney half-complied: He appeared in a go well with, however no tie.
The different Beatles responded to the lawsuit in frustration. “I still cannot understand why Paul acted as he did,” George Harrison mentioned in an affidavit. In March 1971, the choose dominated in Mr. McCartney’s favor, appointing a receiver for the Beatles’ enterprise pursuits till the dissolution of their partnership could possibly be negotiated, which got here a number of years later.
Early in their work with Mr. McCartney, the Eastmans helped him arrange what would turn out to be MPL Communications, his leisure firm. It owns many priceless copyrights, together with the music publishing rights to songs by Buddy Holly, Fats Waller and Carl Perkins and from hit Broadway exhibits like “Annie” and “Grease.”
With the Eastmans’ steerage, Mr. McCartney additionally acquired possession of all of his recordings and songwriting rights for the reason that breakup of the Beatles. Lee Eastman died in 1991, and Linda McCartney died in 1998.
In 2017, Mr. Eastman steered a lawsuit by Mr. McCartney in opposition to Sony/ATV, the music writer (now often known as Sony Music Publishing), to regain his share of the United States copyrights in Beatles songs that he wrote with Mr. Lennon, citing an modification to federal legislation that enables creators to recapture these rights after set durations. The case was settled; the phrases weren’t disclosed, however Mr. McCartney has been registering the American possession of these rights beneath MPL.
“John was a great man,” Mr. McCartney wrote on Twitter final week, together with a photograph of him with Mr. Eastman in yoga poses. “Not only did he help me massively in my business dealings as my lawyer but as a friend he was hard to beat.”
John Lindner Eastman was born on July 10, 1939, in Manhattan, and grew up in Scarsdale, N.Y., the eldest of 4 kids of Lee and Louise Lindner Eastman. His mom had inherited a fortune from the Lindner division retailer in Cleveland.
His father, who had modified his title from Leopold Epstein, arrange a profitable authorized follow representing high-profile musicians, artists and writers, amongst them the bandleader Tommy Dorsey and the songwriters Harold Arlen and Hal David.
John Eastman graduated from Stanford University in 1961 and from the New York University School of Law in 1964. The subsequent 12 months, after briefly working in the workplace of the United States legal professional for the Eastern District of New York, he and his father arrange Eastman & Eastman.
They developed a specialty in working with pop musicians whose enterprise had suffered beneath earlier representatives. Aside from Mr. McCartney, they have been finest recognized for working with Mr. Joel in the late Nineteen Eighties and early ’90s, when he sued his former supervisor and lawyer. The case was settled, and the Eastmans helped Mr. Joel rebuild his enterprise.
“He was fierce when it came to protecting artists’ rights,” Mr. Joel mentioned in an announcement to The New York Times, “and I credit him with whatever longevity I have achieved in my career.”
Mr. Eastman served on the boards of various distinguished organizations, together with the American Museum of Natural History, and two music teams, the National Music Publishers’ Association and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, often known as ASCAP.
In addition to his son Lee, he’s survived by his spouse, Josephine; one other son, Jay; a daughter, Louise; two sisters, Louise Weed and Laura Malcolm; and 11 grandchildren.