Neil Aspinall, lifelong friend of the Beatles and CEO of their company Apple Corps, has left the job. He really has been the "fifth" Beatle for 40 years, supervising all aspects of their music, merchaNeil Aspinall, lifelong friend of the Beatles and CEO of their company Apple Corps, has left the job. He really has been the "fifth" Beatle for 40 years, supervising all aspects of their music, merchandise and licensing—and he goes back further than that.
Born in North Wales and growing up in Liverpool, Aspinall was Paul McCartney's classmate at the Liverpool Institute grammar school. George Harrison was one year below them.
Aspinall became their road manager/driver/roadie, recruited by Pete Best, whose mother he happened to be having an affair with. When the band replaced Best with Ringo Starr, he wanted to quit out of loyalty to his friend, but Best talked him into staying. Eventually, he'd become their personal assistant.
In Aspinall's case, PA duties meant finding photos for the "Sgt. Pepper's" cover, playing tamboura on "Within You Without You," hanging out all night with the Beatles and making sure they got home safely after recording sessions. After manager Brian Epstein's death, Aspinall reluctantly temporarily took over administrating their affairs until they could find somebody "more qualified." They never did.
Aspinall had the vision to trademark "Apple" worldwide, so when Apple Computer stole the name, he sued the company. His genius was keeping the commerce going, keeping the name alive for new generations, while being careful not to overexpose the precious catalog. "Live at the BBC" was live, "The Beatles Anthology" was demos and outtakes, "LOVE" bits and pieces. Only the "One" album used the actual catalog. And it wound up one of the biggest albums in the past 20 years.
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