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From the Apple vaults

The headline in Variety was a showbiz shocker: "Beatle Bites Apple, Finds Worm."

John Lennon had spoken out about the chaos and imminent insolvency of Apple Corp., the company created to be an extension of the Beatles' creative will, and the news was reverberating around the world.

Lennon's message was characteristically blunt: Apple was bobbing on a sea of red ink.

"It's been pie in the sky from the start," Lennon told British journalist Ray Coleman in January 1969.

"It's got to be a business first, we realize that now," Lennon said. "It needs a new broom and a lot of people will have to go ... It doesn't need to make vast profits, but if it carries on like this, all of us will be broke in the next six months."

In October, Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music will release Come and Get It: The Best Of Apple Records, a 21-track compilation of singles, excluding the Beatles. It ranges from the folksy tunes of Mary Hopkin and James Taylor, to the pop rock of Badfinger and the deep soul of Doris Troy and Billy Preston.

The compilation shows Apple's musical experimentation in full bloom, even as the company was steadily wilting.

By Christmas 1968, $29,000 to $32,000 a week were flowing out of Apple's offices, thanks to scroungers and other hustlers.

Apple had become such a drain, Lennon told Rolling Stone, "I'm down to my last 50,000 pounds" (about $1 million Canadian at that time).

That was an enormous sum in 1969, but the notion of a cash-strapped Beatle was hard to grasp.

"We haven't got half the money people think we have," Lennon said. "We have enough to live on, but we can't let Apple go on as it is. We started off with loads of ideas of what we wanted to do -- an umbrella for different activities. But like one or two Beatle things it didn't work because we aren't practical and we weren't quick enough to realize that we need a businessman's brain to run the whole thing."

Although the company itself was on life support, the Apple record label component was in pretty good shape.

Compilation of classic singles showcases the legendary music company

Hey Jude, the first record released on the Apple label, was the group's most successful chart single. It was No. 1 for nine weeks, beginning in late September 1968. (At seven minutes, 11 seconds, it was also the longest song ever to go to No. 1 on the charts.)

Paul McCartney was responsible for Apple's first signing -- Mary Hopkin, an 18-year-old Welsh folksinger who had won a TV talent show.

Those Were The Days, her first single, was a million-seller in 1968. Goodbye, her follow-up, was written by Lennon and McCartney and did nearly as well.

Badfinger, also signed by McCartney, had three top 10 hits on Apple in the early 1970s -- Come And Get It, No Matter What and Day After Day, a million-seller produced by George Harrison.

The Apple compilation also includes the original version of Carolina In My Mind from James Taylor's self-titled debut album. It features McCartney on bass and Harrison on backing vocals.

Thingumybob, Paul McCartney's theme tune for a 1968 British TV comedy drama series, also makes an appearance. It was recorded by the Black Dyke Mills Band, a brass band recruited from Yorkshire mill workers.

Come And Get It also includes singles by the Cajun collective the Sundown Playboys, Hot Chocolate (as The Hot Chocolate Band), Ronnie Spector, Bill Elliot & The Elastic Oz Band, and others.

The Beatles spared no expense to create the Apple label. Thousands were spent on the label's logo: a green Granny Smith apple for the A side of the record and a sliced-in-half one for the B-side. The logo was influenced by the surrealism of Magritte, McCartney's favourite artist.

Alan Aldridge, London's most famous graphic artist, rendered the copyright line in beautiful italic script.

The Apple compilation is part of a planned 17-album CD reissue project, drawn from the label's archives. Upcoming releases include the Badfinger albums, plus James Taylor's first album and The Radha Krishna Temple, the self-titled album of devotional music produced by George Harrison.

The public first got word of the Apple label through a full-page newspaper ad written by McCartney, urging anyone who believed they had musical talent to send their tapes to the company.

Hundreds turned up to make their pitch in person. Many left with some Beatle cash but were never heard from again. Soon, as George Harrison put it, Apple became "a haven for dropouts."

The retail side of Apple was truly a mess by the time Lennon made his comments about the state of the company's finances. The Apple boutique in central London had closed after seven months when the Beatles announced they were "tired of being shopkeepers."

The day they gave away the store's entire stock, newspapers ran photos of flower children fighting over caftans and embroidered cushions.

Last Updated: 08/17/10 11:15
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1 person has commented on this story so far. Tell us what you think below.
by Markus : Sweden August 17, 2010 3:16 PM EDT (Guest)  click to register
Great news ! ! ! This sounds superb ! ! ! The 21 track compilation seems to be very interesting. I`m looking especially foreward to hear Ronnie Spector - what has she recorded for Apple? Thingumybob and The Radha Krishna Temple are some goodies I would love to hear as well!
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From the Apple vaults


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News Summary

Compilation of classic singles showcases the legendary music company Hey Jude, the first record released on the Apple label, was the group's most successful chart single. It was No. 1 for nine weeks, beginning in late September 1968. (At seven minutes, 11 seconds, it was also the longest song ever to go to No. 1 on the charts.) Paul McCartney was responsible for Apple's first signing -- Mary Hopkin, an 18-year-old Welsh folksinger who had won a TV talent show.