A reclusive record executive dubbed "the Howard Hughes of the music business" has toppled Paul McCartney to become Britain's wealthiest music millionaire in the latest list of the rich and famous.

A reclusive record executive dubbed "the Howard Hughes of the music business" has toppled Paul McCartney to become Britain's wealthiest music millionaire in the latest list of the rich and famous.

Clive Calder, the mastermind behind such stars as Britney Spears and 'N Sync, rocketed to No. 1 in the Sunday Times music industry list after selling his independent Zomba label to German media giant Bertelsmann AG.

"He is the Howard Hughes of the music industry," says the list's author Philip Beresford, who put Calder top with an estimated worth of £1.23 billion ($2.28 billion).

"He very cunningly sold, obviously seeing the writing on the wall with all the Internet downloading and piracy and the effect that was having on the record industry," he adds.

The enduring fame of the Beatles showed no sign of fading with Paul McCartney's world tour racking up hefty profits.

But Beresford says that McCartney's Rich List value stayed at last year's figure of £760 million ($1.35 billion) because the dollar's fall is believed to have hit his investments in song copyrights.

The global reach of blockbuster British musicals like "Phantom of the Opera" and "Les Miserables" assured composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and impresario Cameron Mackintosh of the next two places in the music millionaires' list.

"The shows go on around the world and both of them are now looking at the Chinese market in a big way. China could be huge as the new emerging Chinese bilingual middle class have such a hunger for Western music," Beresford says.

Another striking factor in the list was the overwhelming presence of rock veterans like Mick Jagger, Elton John and Sting, whose catalogs have proved to be real goldmines.

"The problem for modern bands is that the record industry as a whole has wised up to the fact that wrinkly rockers made a lot by owning rights to their songs," Beresford says.

"No modern artist has really been able to get to that level. They will be wrinkly before they get there. It takes a long time," he adds.

The list is published this Sunday (April 18).

--Reuters

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