Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Another Fifth Beatle* Gone

Neil Aspinall.

Born in Prestatyn in 1941, Neil was in the same year at Liverpool Institute as Paul, and the year above George. His first memory of George was George asking him, behind the bike shed, for a drag on his ciggie. He studied to become an accountant but came back into contact with Paul and George through his friendship with Pete Best, at one time the Beatles drummer.

Neil was living at the house of Pete's mother, Mona, who ran the Casbah, the little club where the Beatles then played as the Quarrymen. Neil started working for them as a part-time roadie in 1961, running them to local gigs in an old van for five shillings per man per gig - £1 a night.

One of the more dramatic events in early Beatles history, known well by all true believers, occurred in 1962 when Pete Best was sacked as drummer and Ringo took over. There were demonstrations on Merseyside, fans campaigning for Pete who was looked upon as much handsomer. Pete went on to slice bread for a few pound a week while the Beatles went on to be the most famous group in the world.

What never came out at the time was that Neil was having an affair with Mona, Pete's mother. In fact they had a son who was born that same year. Neil, only 19, was caught in a terrible emotional turmoil, with Pete sacked by his new best friends and Mona, his lover, furious at how Pete, her son was being treated. John did tell me this gossip, sniggering, in 1967 when I was doing their biography, but said don't repeat it.
That's a lot of history he's taken with him. RIP.

* If the term needs any explanation at all.


km said...

Why is that I feel sad even when that band's roadie (ok, "road manager") dies?

And where did you find that pic of Paul and Neil? Sir P. looks stoned and desolate.

Space Bar said...

km: I know! It's weird to know those names better than one's own classmates. Sigh.

Not sure when that was taken - just found it in image search. :D