'Fifth Beatle' Neil Aspinall dies

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Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney

The Beatles' long-time friend and former manger Neil Aspinall has died.

Aspinall, who was often referred to as the 'Fifth Beatle' and was chief executive of the band's company Apple Corps Ltd, passed away at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where he had been receiving treatment for lung cancer on Sunday night (23.03.08). He was 66.

His death was announced in a joint statement released by surviving Beatles Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, Apple Corps and George Harrison's widow Olivia Harrison yesterday (24.03.08).

The statement said: "As a loyal friend, confidant and chief executive, Neil's trusting stewardship and guidance has left a far-reaching legacy for generations to come. All his friends and loved ones will greatly miss him but will always retain the fondest memories of a great man."

McCartney, who attended school with Aspinall in Liverpool along with guitarist George, flew out to see his friend over the weekend.

Aspinall - who sang on the chorus of 'Yellow Submarine' - initially worked as the band's road manager and would drive them to concerts in his van. He became chief executive of Apple Corps Ltd in 1970.

As head of the company, he was responsible for the release of the hugely successful 'Beatles Anthology' albums and the compilation LP '1' - which to date has sold around 30 million copies since its release in 2000.

Aspinall stepped down from the position of chief executive last year. He is survived by his wife, Suzy, and five children.

© BANG Media International

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