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Beatles' Friend Neil Aspinall Dies at 66


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Beatles' Friend Neil Aspinall Dies at 66

Monday, March 24, 2008 6:40 PM EDT

The Associated Press


NEW YORK (AP) — Neil Aspinall, a longtime friend of the Beatles who managed their business enterprises and helped make the group a moneymaking phenomenon decades after they split up, has died. He was 66.

Aspinall's death was announced Monday in a statement from surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, and the band's Apple Corps Ltd. company.

Aspinall died Sunday night at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where he had been receiving treatment for lung cancer, according to Geoff Baker, who formerly represented both Aspinall and Apple Corps.

Aspinall's wife and five children were by his side; McCartney visited him before his death.

He was a childhood friend of McCartney and Harrison in Liverpool, England. While he didn't contribute musically, he played several key roles in support of the Beatles, most notably as the head of their Apple Corps business, which oversaw the commercial concerns of the group, including licensing.

"I've known Neil many years and he was a good friend. We were blessed to have him in our lives and he will be missed," Starr said in a statement Monday.

Harrison's widow Olivia and the couple's son Dhani said: "Neil takes with him the love and history of his extended family. He was our constant and avuncular caretaker for so many years; there is no way to measure how much he will be missed."

Aspinall and the late Mal Evans were the Beatles' roadies. Aspinall would drive them to gigs in his van before they became famous, and never left the band's tight-knit circle. He took over the management of Apple Corps in 1968, and continued to oversee the group's business affairs in the decades after they broke up in 1970.

As head of Apple Corps, Aspinall was executive producer of the hugely successful "Beatles Anthology" album and was behind other successes, including the "Beatles One" album and the recent Cirque du Soleil production "Love," which has been a hit in Las Vegas.

"As a loyal friend, confidant and chief executive, Neil's trusting stewardship and guidance has left a far-reaching legacy for generations to come," the band's statement said.

Aspinall stepped down from Apple Corps last year.

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RIP Neil,

He was a great companion of the Fab, one of the hidden supports of the banda from the beginning, and he will be sorely missed.

According to the Anthology series, he came up with many ideas applied in Sgt. Pepper's, like opening it with the introduction of the band, and then saying goodbye and announcing the last number (as in the reprise).

Bye Neil, thanks for everything!

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According to the Anthology series, he came up with many ideas applied in Sgt. Pepper's, like opening it with the introduction of the band, and then saying goodbye and announcing the last number (as in the reprise).

Yes, to which Lennon replied "no one likes a smart ass, Neil..."

Although I wouldn't say he came up with many of the ideas for Sgt Pepper, that was pretty much the only idea he contributed.

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My sincere condolences to the family and friends of Neil Aspinall.

I respect Mr. Aspinall for the many things that he did for the Beatles. I reserve my deepest respect for him for remaining a loyal and trusted friend who, unlike some people who have been associated with great rock bands, did not succumb to the temptation to publish a sensationalized "tell-all" book.

R.I.P. and thank you Neil Aspinall.


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From the U.K. Telegraph:

Neil Aspinall wasn't paid to spill the beans

By Sam Leith

Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 26/03/2008

In the immortal This Is Spinal Tap, a spoof documentary about an imaginary 1970s metal band, there is a scene in which the band's manager and fixer, Ian Faith, is asked by the documentarist why he carries around a cricket bat.

"I carry this partly out of - I don't know … sort of … sort of … I suppose … What's the word?" he chunters.


"Yes," he says. "It's a kind of totemistic thing … y'know. But to be quite frank with you, it has come in useful in a couple of situations. Certainly, in the topsy-turvy world of heavy rock, having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is quite often … useful."

The film cuts away, as he delivers these ruminations, to archive footage of him - purple with rage - stoving in televisions, smashing chairs and sweeping objects off tables with the bat. Ever since Led Zeppelin's 1970s tours - which Tap spoofs - this has been the standard image of the rock manager: angry, pushy, theatrical, and at least as unpredictable as his charges.

The death this week of Neil Aspinall - driver, accountant, confidant and de facto manager to the Beatles - reminds us that there was another way of doing things. This is a man who associated through much of his life with the most famous pop band ever; and who, according to our obituary, was credited by some with "single-handedly" putting the band in that position.

Yet his name will have been unknown to very many of us until this month, and is likely to be forgotten, by all but a few, by the next. He took his secrets - and having run the books, vetted the groupies and acted as go-between in the feuds we can assume he knew some - to his grave. That seems astonishing. More, it is astonishing that that seems astonishing.

We have become accustomed to an age where famous people face intrusion by writer and paparazzo more than ever before; where disclosure and betrayal are to be expected.

It's nonsense to suggest that the appetite for the private lives of public figures is a new one: there is a high road from Suetonius to the supermarket tabloid; and even in the 1960s, had Aspinall wanted to sell the moptops down the river he'd have found a buyer.

But there has been a shift: not just in degree, but in kind. Private disclosure is no longer an accidental effect of fame: it is, increasingly, its very substance. A "confidant" is no longer the person in whom a celebrity confides his or her secrets; it is the person who confides the celebrity's secrets to the media (and is often paid by one or both parties to do so).

Kerry Katona's singing career and Katie Price's modelling career are ancillary to their careers as people living their lives in public. The number of people who go out and buy Paul McCartney's new single will, I daresay, be dwarfed by the number who will go out and buy a Hello! or OK! magazine reporting on his ugly divorce.

Music magazines that report the professional doings of pop stars have withered on the vine, while shiny magazines reporting their private behaviour swamp the supermarket shelves.

Top of the Pops and the Old Grey Whistle Test languish in mothballs; Celebrity Wife Swap, Celebrity Big Brother, I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! and Celebrity Fistula Clinic Live are thriving.

Once, we cherished glimpses into the lives of the famous in the hopes of discovering that these colossi were, at root, "just like us". Now, "just like us" is the prerequisite and the basis for fame: we build the colossus from the ground up, starting with the feet of clay.

This is not automatically a bad thing. Who are we to forbid people - many of them disadvantaged in life by stupidity, talentlessness or social misfortune - from commodifying their private lives to satiate the appetite of a public that delights in the game?

There's a considerable amount of empty snobbery in the view that only the accomplished deserve our attention; likewise, it's a rather stunted world view that regards the quotidian stuff of human lives as "trivia". But, again, to trim sails in accordance with the way the wind is blowing doesn't preclude us from recalling with pleasure when it stood in another quarter.

It isn't impossible, of course, that even at the hour of his untimely death, Mr Aspinall was preparing to cushion his sunset years by spewing a filthy motherlode of moptop confidences into the public domain like so much dammed sewage.

It isn't impossible that he was hoarding trinkets like a wretched Beatle Burrell. But everything we know of this "notoriously reclusive accountant" - which is to say, not much - leads us to doubt it.

The passing of Neil Aspinall, then, deserves a quiet salute. He looks from where I'm standing like one of the last of an honourable breed: a man who did not need to carry a cricket bat, because he played with a straight one.

Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright

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Indeed he's regarded as uncommon in his approach. The fact that his name would be known to a relative few boggles me a bit, though; I'm in my 20s and Neil Aspinall has been a familiar name to me for quite a few years. Relative obscurity can have its advantages, though.

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