John Lennon’s entire solo catalog will be made available for Internet download next month, making him the first of the Beatles whose complete body of work outside the Fab Four can be delivered online, his label said Wednesday.
Material ranging from Lennon’s first solo album with the Plastic Ono Band to “Imagine” and “Double Fantasy” will be sold by online services like Napster, Rhapsody, MSN Music and Yahoo Music Unlimited, EMI Music said.
One music site conspicuously excluded from the digital release is iTunes due to a trademark dispute between its parent company, Apple Computer Inc., and the Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. over competing names.
Lennon’s two-CD greatest-hits collection, “Working Class Hero,” is already in digital format for purchase on Internet music sites starting Monday, EMI said. The rest of his solo collection will be available for download starting Dec. 5 in Britain and Dec. 6 in the United States.
A select number of Lennon tracks will also be offered for digital download directly to cell phones, EMI said.
“Working Class Hero” has hardly been a commercial blockbuster in bricks-and-mortar stores. It entered the Billboard 200 pop chart at No. 135 and has sold just 32,000 copies since its release five weeks ago, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, said she was happy her late husband’s music would now be available to a new generation of digital music fans. “New technology is something he always embraced and this is something he would have loved,” she said.
EMI is in talks with Apple Corps about offering Beatles music for digital downloads in the future, an EMI spokesman said. To date, none of the band’s recordings have been made available on a legal download service.
George Harrison’s solo catalog is not available for download on legitimate music sites. Nor is Paul McCartney’s, except for his latest album, “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard,” according to a spokeswoman for EMI’s Capitol Records.
According to Daily Variety, some of Ringo Starr’s solo work can be bought for online delivery, but none of the complete records he made in the 1970s, like “Beaucoups of Blues,” ”Ringo” or “Goodnight Vienna.”
The digital release of Lennon’s songs roughly coincides with his 65th birthday last month and the 25th anniversary of his murder by a deranged fan outside his New York apartment building on Dec. 8, 1980. He was 40 when he was killed.