Monday, March 24, 2008

The driving force

The death of Neil Aspinall has been announced.
He was 66. It was only a year since he had retired as the head of Apple Corps. He'd worked for his school friends the Beatles for 45 years. When Lennon and McCartney asked him to come and drive their van he had to give up a potentially secure career as an accountant to take them up on the offer.
Most members of the inner circle are gone - fellow roadie Mal Evans, PR man Derek Taylor, manager Brian Epstein and two members of the group - but nobody knew as many secrets as Aspinall. Up until last year he clocked in every day at their West End HQ, guarding their legacy, warning off corporate raiders and orchestrating reissues like the massively lucrative Anthology series. There can't be many people in any business who have worked for the same employer for so long. He was in the van, in the hotel room, in the studio, on stage and in the meeting room with them when anything of any significance took place.
And he never blabbed, which was remarkable for somebody of his generation and inconceivable for anyone who's been entrusted with that degree of confidence since.
The fourth sentence of the report of Aspinall's death on the BBC website goes as follows: "Despite no musical training, he sang in the chorus of 'Yellow Submarine'."
Half an hour ago it was headlined "Beatles guru dies".
They've just changed it to "Beatles ally dies".
Watch this space.


  1. What a life he must have had. And what a star for keeping it to himself. Coincidentally he was mentioned on Antiques Roadshow last night. A chap had a postcard from an Australian hotel that was supposedly signed by each of the Beatles after they stayed there in 1964. Turns out it wasn't their sigs at all but Aspinall's forged attempt instead.. As the valuer said on the show, you couldn't expect the lads to perform 6 shows and sign 200,000 autographs at the same time!

  2. Anonymous7:44 pm

    Being a bit of a Beatles fanatic it comes as sad news - though not completely unexpected.

    Although Aspinall is, rightly, credited with overseeing the Anthology series it must be said that the management of the Beatles existing catalogue brings shame on both Apple Corps and EMI.

    Oh to have been a fly on the wall in some of those 'meetings'.

  3. Sad news. I always think of the Beatles as a very British band (I think all of their records were made in the UK once they signed to EMI but I could be wrong) but the members and close family and colleagues always seem to die in the US rather than the UK. George Harrison and John Lennon both died there as did Mal Evans, Linda McCartney and (I think) Maureen Starkey, and now Neil Aspinall.

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  5. t is very sad. An ally he was - fiercely loyal and protective.
    I worked with him about 18 months ago and despite his often mis-perceived gruffness he was in fact an extremely shy, funny and nice man.

  6. This not telling his story thing is a big thing with media, Hunter Davies goes on at length about it on the front of Guardian todya. Surely Macca recent devorce is clear prove why keeping schtum would make the world a better place for us all. The world doesn't need to know that pauls abit grumpy, ringo only likes fried eggs etc. Also most people don't "kiss and tell" I read an interview with gina mackee recently were the author was annoyed precisely because she keeps schtum and was annoyed whne she weas bullied it spilling the beans. The beans in question: she likes making jewlery has a husband and a step kid hold the front page.

  7. Anonymous9:41 pm

    I thought Hunter Davies's piece in the Guardian was rather odd. Why, for no apparent reason, did he mention that Lennon had told him that he (Lennon) had indeed had a one night stand with Epstein? It had nothing to do with Aspinall at all.


  8. Anonymous12:04 pm

    Yes Hunter Davies cannot pass up any opportunity to mention his own part in the Beatles story.

    I read a DH blog (here or on about Neil Aspinall and thought what a perfect interview that would make for the magazine. Now I hear he kept schtum I can see why it didn't happen.

  9. He sounds like a terrific man.