Neil The Fifth.

If anyone were to get my vote for 5th Beatle it would be a short list of three people.  Brian Epstein, George Martin, and Neil Aspinall all get my vote.  I know it is really not fair to vote for a three-way tie, but it really is how I feel.  The Beatle’s would not be nearly as legendary without these three men working with them. 

 

Now, we have read that there may be in an impending shakeup at the Apple offices which is pure speculation we presume.  However, we find it quite strange that other Beatle news sites are reporting an Apple shakeup, while the Mirror is running a profile on Neil Aspinall.  Maybe there is something a foot at the Apple offices.  We will keep you updated. 

Here’s what we’ve read.

There are a few who could lay claim to the title of The Fifth Beatle – but none deserves the accolade more than Neil Aspinall.

He might never have had a dashing quiff like original drummer Pete Best, the charisma of manager Brian Epstein, or the artistic talents of tragic bassist Stu Sutcliffe, but he has been vital to the band’s legend.

For this balding, bespectacled 64-year-old accountant is the man firmly in control of the Beatles’ vast empire.

And while his musical contribution is limited to backing vocals on Yellow Submarine, he has been the band’s chief confidant for 47 years.

Neil was the first person John Lennon spoke to after his 1968 drugs bust, and he consoled Cynthia when John ran off with Yoko. And his brilliant business sense has helped the Fab Four amass their huge fortunes.

Notoriously secretive, he made a rare foray into the spotlight earlier this week when a long-running legal dispute between Apple Computers and The Beatles’ business, Apple Corps, was finally settled.

The deal means the most famous back catalogue in pop will soon be available online – no doubt sparking a new round of Beatlemania and earning the group millions more.

It is another victory for Aspinall, who has single-handedly made The Beatles the highest-earning band in the world – 40 years after they split.

ACCORDING to one former Apple employee: “Neil is the only man John, Paul, George and Ringo ever fully trusted. If anyone deserves the title Fifth Beatle, it’s him.

“He transformed The Beatles from the biggest band in the world to one of its biggest brands. He’s like a father figure to the group. He deeply cares about them and is constantly looking out for them.”

It was Neil who talked Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr into collaborating on the 1995 Anthology albums and TV series. He also had the idea for new releases. The greatest hits album Beatles 1, which has sold 30million copies since it came out in 2000, was his brainchild.

“Neil is one of the nicest and most intelligent people in the music industry,” adds the Apple source.

“He’s very quietly spoken, very secretive and has only done about two interviews in his life. He’s just happy taking a back seat and it’s his unswerving loyalty that earned him the group’s trust. He knows where all the skeletons lie and could write an incredible book about the band, but he never would.”

Welsh-born Neil – Nell to his mates – has been part of the Beatles story from the very beginning.

He got to know Paul and George when they were all pupils at the Liverpool Institute boys grammar school in the ’50s. Other famous old boys include newsreader Peter Sissons and Paul’s younger brother Mike.

Neil would meet George behind the air-raid shelter for a crafty fag, and he’d joke around with Paul when they were supposed to be paying attention in Latin class. While his skiffle-mad pals dreamed of music stardom, Neil wanted to be an accountant. That ambition went out the window in 1960 when Pete Best asked if he would drive the band for £1 a gig. As it was more than he’d earn as a junior accountant, he was soon ferrying them up and down the M1 in their old Commer van.

THAT same year, 18-year-old Neil also began an affair with Pete’s separated mum, Mona, who was 20 years older.

Their son Roag, born in July 1962, was given the Best surname to avoid a scandal. It was only in 1995 that Neil was revealed to be his real dad.

“Mona’s pregnancy wasn’t an overnight thing – they had an affair that lasted eight years,” says Pete. In 1964, when Beatlemania swept the globe, fellow friend and roadie Mal Evans took over as driver and Neil became the road manager. It involved far more than ensuring the dressing rooms were up to scratch.

Neil and the band’s publicist Derek Taylor were also responsible for screening the legions of screaming groupies who besieged them on tour, only letting the most suitable girls into the band’s inner sanctum.

Ringo, 65, says: “Neil and Mal were all we had. Throughout our fame, we just had two guys looking after us.”

The constant touring took its toll. Neil says: “Our life was just going from one box to another in the end. You’d be on an aeroplane, which was a box, and get into a limousine, which was another box, and drive to a hotel – another box.

“It was an unattractive life and it went on for years. But at least I could go out. They were trapped.”

Still, it was not without its highlights. In 1964 Neil stood in for a sick George when the band rehearsed for The Ed Sullivan Show. And he was with them when they met Elvis Presley in LA the following year.

HE says: “The Colonel was there, all of Elvis’s buddies – the so-called Memphis Mafia – and Priscilla.

“The first thing they did was show us a pool table that swivelled and became a craps table. Everyone was sitting around talking, Elvis was drinking water. I think a couple of The Beatles played guitar with him.”

Two years later, Brian Epstein died. Beatles folklore has it that the Fab Four managed themselves after that. In reality, Neil took control when he became managing director of Apple Corps in January 1968.

It was an unenviable task. The business was so shambolic and its drain on the group’s resources so great that John once moaned he’d be broke in six months.

It had been set up as a hippy venture where anyone with an idea could get backing. Within months it had descended into chaos, plagued by freeloaders – its offices in West London’s Savile Row a hangout for drop-outs, druggies and weirdos. Once, George invited a 12-strong posse of Hell’s Angels round.

“A few months later their bikes were outside Savile Row with these guys saying, ‘George said it was OK’. They ended up living at Apple and terrifying everyone,” says Neil, who adds that they also laid waste to a 43lb turkey at the firm’s festive do.

“We had a Christmas party. This huge turkey came in on a tray with four people carrying it. It was about 10 yards from the door to the table but it never made it. The Hell’s Angels just went ‘woof’ and everything disappeared – wings, legs, breast, everything. When it got to the table there was nothing left!”

After The Beatles split up in 1970, Neil spent the next 20 years fighting lawsuits and unpicking their tangled affairs. It was here that his skill for figures and business acumen helped turn four musicians into the world’s richest entertainers, with a combined fortune of more than £2billion.

“When The Beatles broke up Apple was just a shell, but he set about clawing back all the money they had lost,” says a former Apple employee.

“It’s ironic but they sold more records after the split than before – and that’s all down to Neil. He’s the pivot for everything. Even when the group weren’t talking to one another, they’d all be talking to Neil.”

Neil also did very well for himself, too. Today he and his wife Suzy live in a plush threestorey mansion in Twickenham, Middlesex. They have five children and several grandchildren.

At the Apple offices, which are now in Chelsea, he maintains an iron grip on the group’s finances and legacy. Despite having two heart attacks since 1991, he still does 12-hour days.

The band’s late publicist Derek Taylor once described the enduring link between Neil and The Beatles “a complementary relationship. They had no O-levels, he had lots. They had big egos, he had none.”

And that is the key to one of the most enduring and successful partnerships in musical history.

Source: UK Mirror

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4 Responses

  1. George Martin is really the only one who could potentially lay claim to being the fifth Beatle as he was the one who was at the forefront of their creative process. From helping with orchestration to actually playing on certain tracks.

    Neil Aspinall has done a great job keeping Apple Corps running and here’s to many more years of his management skills in making sure the lads are remembered.

    Brian Epstein did his bit early on in getting them signed, getting them gigs and running their day-to-day business dealings, but only George Martin made them into the best band the world has or will ever have known.

  2. I, too,, place Neil in the top three contenders for 5th Beatle. He managed to create and maintain an atmosphere in which the Beatles could work and he never, that I recall at the moment, wrecked the van with them in it! Brian couldn’t bave done what Neil did because he would have hovered and driven them crazy. Neil just made sure that they got what they wanted as mucn as possible and didn’t try to tell them what to do exept in security situations. I’m sure he also made sure they got what they needed whether or not they wanted it. He obviously respected as well as loved them as individuals. That he could be in the middle of them for so many years without getting any of them seriously angry with him (or getting truly seriously mad at any of them) is simply some sort of miracle.

    I do wish he’d write a book even though I know that he’d leave out all sorts of thing. I’d like to know a bit more about the man himself. I’ve always liked and respected “can do” people and Neil is the definition of the breed.

    M. Marshall
    http://marplesbeatles.wordpress.com

  3. Hi — I’m an author who has written 20 books. My new novel is called The Coming of the Walrus which I hope is a fun trip through the myths of the 60s. Most publishers found it a bit too strange so I had to finance this one myself. You can check it out through my website, jamesriordan.com. I’d like to get the word out to Beatle fans. It can be ordered through amazon.com, barnes&noble.com, and lots of other places or through my website. Please check it out. I hope you find it as much fun as I intended it to be. Thanks. — J.R.

    p.s.
    The official description of the book is as follows:

    When a down and out acid casualty stumbles across the greatest secret of the 1960’s, all Hell and half of Heaven breaks loose! In an effort to find the famed “Walrus” of The Beatles lore, Dave Chalmers battles his way through demons, madmen, murderers and conspiracies to cross paths with nearly every myth and wild tale of the era including: Who killed John Kennedy? What really happened to Jimi Hendrix? The faking of Jim Morrison’s death. Where Elvis is today, and what was the real power behing the legendary, magical, mysterious 1960’s PLUS the greatest myth of all…WHO WAS THE WALRUS?

  4. […] finally called it a day as the head of The Beatle’s Apple label.  We had posted previous grumblings two months ago that he may leave, amidst the Apple vs. Apple court hearings, but now it […]

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