March 11, 2008

Apple Records

I've just finished reading The Longest Cocktail Party, by Richard DiLello (Apple's "House Hippie"). It's an "insider's dairy" about the "wild rise and fall" of Apple Corp. The book is supposedly "hard to find" (I ordered mine at Amazon). I really enjoyed it, and it confirmed the impression I had had about Apple, such as the general "scene" at the Savile Row offices on any given business day. Here's a bit about Apple Records from the Wikipedia entry:

Apple Records is a record label founded in 1968 as a division of Apple Corps Ltd. by The Beatles. EMI and Capitol Records agreed to distribute Apple Records until 1975; Apple owned the rights to records by artists they signed, while EMI retained ownership of the Beatles' records.

3 Savile Row, site of the rooftop concert from Let It Be

Besides releasing the 1968-onwards work of the Beatles and the individual members (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr), Apple signed an eclectic roster of artists. Allen Klein later took over the running of the label, keeping some artists while getting rid of many others.

McCartney with Mary Hopkin in 1968

"Eclectic" is a really good way to describe the assortment of acts The Beatles and Apple signed to the label. Looking back on it now, one could conclude that The Beatles never expected Apple to last. Lennon is quoted during its early days as describing Apple like a spinning top they'd spun. It wouldn't be all that difficult to believe The Beatles and Apple chose the worst possible acts they could find in order to hurry Apple's demise, and stop the top's spinning... But that isn't what happened. Still, it is hard to imagine what anyone could have seen in a couple of the Apple artists upon which The Beatles (in the form of Apple Corp.) hung their reputation.

Here's a partial list of artists (with videos when possible), primarily focusing on the list of "non-Beatle singles as released in the United States" on page 358 of my copy of The Longest Cocktail Party. This will leave out at the very least English composer John Tavener's album The Whale and two albums by Modern Jazz Quartet (Under the Jasmin Tree and Space, both released in 1969):

Black Dyke Mills Band

McCartney employed them for the "one-off" "Thingumybob" single.


Released August 26, 1968

Mary Hopkin

Brought to McCartney's attention (by Twiggy), who worked with her on her early releases, including the Lennon-McCartney original "Goodbye" and her hit recording of "Those Were the Days."

"Those Were the Days"

Released August 26, 1968


Released April 7, 1969

Maybe it's me, but McCartney looks like he's trying too hard in that video. His behavior is actually quite strange. Musically, I far prefer this demo version by McCartney, himself:


Jackie Lomax

As I see it, Jackie Lomax was the "tragic victim" of Apple's rise and fall. He hitched his star on Apple, and he was sort of hung out to dry. Had he been signed to a different record company and label, things might have turned out differently for him. Throughout the reading of The Longest Cocktail Party, it looked to me as if nobody really had time to devote to the Apple recording artists (beyond at least their debut singles/album), Lomax in particular. Known via his Brian Epstein connections, he recorded with Harrison, McCartney and Starr at various times. His first single "Sour Milk Sea" features all three and was written by Harrison. I couldn't find Lomax's version, so here's a demo credited to The Beatles (although it's primarily Harrison):

Lomax's version was released on August 26, 1968

The Ivey's, later known as Badfinger

Badfinger is described by Richard DiLello in The Longest Cocktail Party as being "the musical heroes of The Longest Cocktail Party." Isn't it strange he didn't think about The Beatles? Mal Evans took up The Ivey's cause. They were accepted by Apple in 1968, after several demo tapes were brought in by Evans, finally getting approval from McCartney, Harrison and Lennon. There were numerous groups in the 1970s, such as Klaatu and Badfinger, who were rumored to actually be The Beatles recording under a different name. Depending on how one looks at it, Badfinger was another "victim" of Apple's ascension and demise.
"Maybe Tomorrow" - their only Apple single that didn't sell well

Released January 27, 1969

"Come and Get It," the song McCartney is supposed to have told the guys in Badfinger that if they could replicate his demo for the song note for note, they'd have themselves a hit, or something like that:

Released January 12, 1970

McCartney's version; the other Beatles are pictured, but it's only Paul playing

"No Matter What"

Released October 1970

White Trash

"Road to Nowhere," released March 3, 1969

If Badfinger were the musical heroes of The Longest Cocktail Party, then White Trash had to have been the musical.........scumbags? I don't know, I'm only joking. I have no idea what the guys in White Trash were actually like, but with a name like "White Trash," one should expect a certain level of prejudgment. White Trash was brought to Apple by Tony Meehan, a former member of the the Shadows, who knew the Beatles. I got the impression from reading The Longest Cocktail Party that the "House Hippie" (Ricard DiLello) was the group's biggest champion. There are only two pictures of author DiLello in the book, and he's with White Trash in at least one of them. Their second release was a cover of "Golden Slumbers" which McCartney was against, but Lennon made sure came out. Not even "Golden-frickin-Slumbers" could help them. Perhaps mercifully, there is no video I can find with White Trash.

"Road to Nowhere," by White Trash (a.k.a. Trash)

James Taylor

A rare survivor of Apple, he was signed after sending a demo tape to Peter Asher (of Peter & Gordon) and released his debut. Peter Asher is of course the brother of Jane Asher, Paul's girlfriend at the time. Despite the Beatles connection, and the presence of McCartney and George Harrison on one track ("Carolina in My Mind"), the album did not sell very well.

James Taylor

"Carolina On My Mind," released March 17, 1969

Billy Preston

Brought in to work with the group on "Get Back" (later retitled Let It Be), and signed at Harrison's insistence as a solo artist. Harrison worked on some of Preston's recordings. Billy Preston was the 5th Beatle.

Released July 7, 1969

That's the Way God Planned It (September 1969)

Released December 3, 1970 (the last non-Beatles, American single for Apple)

Harrison's song "My Sweet Lord" was originally intended for Billy Preston, and he had a minor hit with it in early 1970:

Radha Krishna Temple

Gosh, I wonder which Beatle signed this group up??? Yep, George, who also produced them.

The Radha Krishna Temple (1969)

"Hare Krishna Mantra"

the Radha Krishna Temple version was released August 21, 1969

Doris Troy

Ain't That Cute (October 1969)

Worked with Harrison, and also Billy Preston. She did alot of the backup vocals on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (1973).

"Jacob's Ladder/Get Back," released on September 21, 1970

from the final photo shoot

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Anonymous said...

I thought Paul's then-girlfriend Jane Asher brough Mary Hopkin to his attention?

Chris said...

Nope, twas Twiggy.

Kenna said...

Allo Chris, interesting post, enjoyed it. That "Those Were The Days" song, instant dial changer in my car, can't stand it. Friday, I picked up a little book by May Pang called Instamatic Karma. It's a picture book with lots of details. I love it. The photos seem to show a side of Lennon rarely seen.

Chris said...

Allo, luv. How is it then? I agree, schmaltzy would be a nice description - it sold well, though (I imagine it was a great drinking song throughout western European pubs).

Yes, Lennon's "lost weekend" which went on for months. That May Pang certainly has capitalized upon that experience! In fact, she's sort of made a career out of it. Can't blame her, really.

Anonymous said...

May Pang is a self aggrandizing loser.

May herself confirms how unhappy John was with her in her first book “Loving John”. She states over and over how John was drunk, in fact she gave John being drunk MORE publicity then the two Troubador incidents. In her book she states six examples of John going on a drunken rampage. May also states several times in detail how John beat her and wanted to end the relationship more then once. How can she carry on now like it was some great love affair when she in her own words described how terrible this relationship was?
Sorry, once you put something in print you can’t take it back like it never happened.

Anonymous said...

Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon was released in 1973.