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Beatles on iTunes? 'Don't hold your breath' says Yoko

The long and winding road

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John Lennon's widow has put the kibosh on rumors that Apple Corps' Beatles catalog might arrive on Apple Inc's iTunes online music store anytime soon.

"Don't hold your breath ... for anything," Yoko Ono was quoted as saying in an interview with Reuters when asked about the Beatles joining the Jobsian CD-killer.

Rumors of the loveable moptops' oeuvre arriving on Apple's überpopular music-distribution cash cow have popped up repeatedly since that service launched, Beatleless, in April 2003.

After announcing in 2007 that EMI's catalog — which includes the Beatles — was going DRM-free on iTunes, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was asked when the Fab Four would join the download party. His answer: "I wanna know that too." EMI's CEO Eric Nicoli added that his company was "working on it."

Later that same year, Sir Paul McCartney told Billboard: "It's all happening soon. Most of us are all sort of ready. The whole thing is primed, ready to go — there's just maybe one little sticking point left, and I think it's being cleared up as we speak, so it shouldn't be too long."

How long, Macca? "It's down to fine-tuning, but I'm pretty sure it'll be happening next year, 2008," the left-handed Hofner owner opined. Well, 2008 came and 2008 went, and apparently they could not work it out.

In 2009, after Sky News reported and then unreported that the Beatles' arrival on iTunes was imminent, EMI's catalog prez told the Financial Times: "Conversations between Apple and EMI are ongoing and we look forward to the day when we can make the music available digitally. But it's not tomorrow." Or the next day. Or the next day.

Earlier this year, Sir Paul told BBC's Newsbeat that the delay impasse was all EMI's fault: "It's been business hassles," he said. "Not with us, or iTunes. It's the people in the middle, the record label. There have been all sorts of reasons why they don't want to do it."

An EMI rep snapped back at the former Quarryman, telling Newsbeat: "Discussions are ongoing. We would love to see The Beatles' music available for sale digitally."

Maybe so, but we advise taking Ms. Ono's advice: "Don't hold your breath." ®

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