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Last Updated: Monday, 24 March 2008, 19:49 GMT
Obituary: Neil Aspinall
Neil Aspinall with the Beatles
Neil Aspinall (top right) was with the Beatles from the start
Neil Aspinall, who has died aged 66, was a close friend of the Beatles and ran their Apple Corps business venture.

He was chief executive of Apple from 1970 until last year, and is credited with ensuring the Fab Four continued to make money decades after they split.

He remained fiercely loyal to the band, looking after their business interests and taking legal action for them.

Aspinall also played background instruments on some Beatles tracks and was among those singing in the chorus of Yellow Submarine.

Road manager

Aspinall was born in October 1941 to parents from Liverpool who had been evacuated to Prestatyn in North Wales.

He was a childhood friend of Sir Paul McCartney and George Harrison, and they formed the "Mad Lad" gang together.

When Sir Paul and Harrison formed the Beatles with John Lennon and Pete Best, later replaced by Ringo Starr, Aspinall remained very much part of the gang.

He became their first road manager, driving them between gigs and carrying out a host of other tasks for the band.

'Fifth Beatle'

Aspinall was asked to oversee Apple Corps after Beatles manager Brian Epstein died in 1967.

He met wife Suzy during the making of A Hard Day's Night and they married in 1968.

Aspinall was executive producer on the massive-selling Beatles Anthology albums in the 1990s and was behind other recent successes such as the Beatles' One album.

Former Apple press officer Geoff Baker previously described Aspinall as "the fifth Beatle".

Legal battles

As head of Apple Corps, Aspinall helped settle a 30m royalties row between the Beatles and EMI.

The band also settled a long-running dispute last year with computer firm Apple over use of the Apple name.

The settlement gave Apple Inc ownership of the name and logo in return for agreeing to license some of those trademarks back to Apple Corps.

Aspinall said at the time: "The years ahead are going to be very exciting times for us."

'Brilliant and inspirational

Apple Corps aide and ABC TV producer David Saltz paid tribute to Aspinall following his death.

He described him as "the most brilliant and inspirational guy that everybody just gravitated around".

As well as his work with the Beatles, Aspinall created Standby Films with his wife, which made the 1999 Jimi Hendrix film, Hendrix: Band Of Gypsys.

Also an artist, Aspinall was involved with Sir Paul McCartney in founding the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

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