Monday, January 12, 2009

Beatles Roadies: Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans

Born October 13, 1941, Neil Aspinall was friends with Paul McCartney and George Harrison when all three were children. When Mal Evans was later hired by Brian Epstein, Aspinall became the Beatles personal assistant.

By early 1961, the Beatles were playing two, and sometimes three, clubs each night. Pete Best asked Aspinall, who rented a room at the Best home, to be the Beatles part-time road manager. Aspinall bought an old van and drove the Beatles and their equipment to various gigs. He also kept track of their money since he had gone to school for two years in accounting.

As personal assistant to the Beatles, he bought clothes, meals, and various and sundry items for the Beatles. Later, he carried out Brian Epstein's itinerary as far as driving the Beatles to destinations and providing whatever they needed. When George was too sick for one of The Ed Sullivan Show's rehearsals, Aspinall stood in for George to help the cameras block the shots.

Aspinall played the tamboura on "Within You, Without You" and (with Mal Evans and the four Beatles) percussion on "Magical Mystery Tour."

After the death of Brian Epstein, the Beatles asked Aspinall to take over the management of Apple Corps, Ltd. in 1968. He agreed to do it until someone else was found, although he remained in charge of Apple until his death in 2007. While at Apple in the early days, he was fired by Allen Klein but was quickly reinstated at the insistence of the Beatles. In 1978, he would institute the first of three lawsuits against Apple Computers for trademark infringement. He also oversaw The Beatles Anthology project.

Mal Evans (May 27, 1935-January 5, 1976) was a bouncer at the Cavern Club when Brian Epstein hired him as the Beatles assistant road manager. He also acted as the band's bodyguard when large crowds began chasing the group duing Beatlemania. When Phillippine soldiers hassled the Beatles at the Philippine Airport after the Beatles had declined the dinner invitation of Emelda Marcos, Mal Evans was punched several times by the soldiers.

After the touring days, Evans continued to help the Beatles in many ways, including in the studio, and accompanied the Beatles to India in 1967. Evans even had limited contributions on some Beatles tracks. He sang on the chorus of "Yellow Submarine" and played harmonica and kazoo on "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite." On "A Day in the Life," Evans was in control of the alarm clock and counted the measures until McCartney's middle section began with "Woke up, got outta bed ..." His voice can be heard counting on the Anthology version of the song. He is also credited with tambourine on "Dear Pridence" and saxophone (some sources say trumpet) on "Helter Skelter." Some believe that he played the anvil for Maxwell's Silver Hammer," although most sources credit Ringo for the anvil. In the film Help, he had a cameo appearnce as a confused swimmer who surfaces in an Austrian ice-fishing hole. The album John Lennon/The Plastic Ono Band credits Evans with providing the band with "tea and sympathy."

Evans was shot and killed on January 5, 1976. It is reported that police believed that an air pistol in Evans' possession was a rifle.

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