Gary Flockhart: Grateful dead still big earners

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THIS week’s music news is full of dead singers - for record labels, the gift that keeps on giving.

It’s been two years since Michael Jackson died but the King of Pop’s earning power shows no sign of waning. For the second straight year, the late star tops Forbes’ annual list of the Top-Earning Dead Celebrities - his estate raking in $170 million from sales of his music and stake in the Sony/ATV catalogue.

Remarkably, that makes MJ the second highest-earning pop act over the past 12 months, dead or alive.

Those folks in charge of the Amy Winehouse estate have surely taken note, for it’s been announced that a new album is to be released just months after her death.

Billed as her third album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures is out on December 5 and will include unreleased material, alternative versions of existing songs and two newbies.

A £1 donation from the sale of each copy will be go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation - but still, many fans have described the LP as a cash-in. I can understand their scepticism.

Like many others, I can’t help but feel this record is being released to take advantage of the lucrative pre-Christmas market.

It’s no secret that before Amy’s death her latest batch of demos were so poor her label asked for new material. So how come it’s suddenly ready now?

I honestly doubt that an artist who struggled so long to follow-up 2006’s Back To Black had an arsenal of good-to-go songs - though you can bet it won’t be Amy’s last posthumous release.