Neil Aspinall Apr 29, 2008 7:39:45 GMT -5
Post by christine~ on Apr 29, 2008 7:39:45 GMT -5
Edited from his long obit in The Economist, April 3rd:
"He was brighter than they were. He had eight O-levels, where they mustered hardly any between them. He was richer: by January, 1961 he was earning two and a half pounds a week as a trainee accountant in Liverpool, enough to have saved up for a second-hand van, while they had to scrape the fare for the 81 bus across town, lugging their guitars up to the top deck. In certain lights, with enough Brylcreem on his hair and enough tight black leather on his limbs, he was as handsome as they were too, like a young Tom Courtenay.
"Yet there seemed to be not one jealous bone in Neil Aspinall's body, which was why, for almost half a century, he was factotum, doorkeeper, and man-of-all-work for his best four friends. From driving the battered old Commer van he purchased, with hard benches back and front and his charges sleeping among the amps, he progressed to hiring the tour buses and then the chauffeured limousines with blacked-out windows, forcing their way through crowds of weeping teenage girls.
"He could have told stories if he'd wanted to. Of getting lost one New Years night in the snow near Wolverhampton as he drove the band to their first big audition with Decca (which they subsequently failed). Of picking girls for them from the giggling, screaming candidates who milled at the stage doors, and forging hundreds of signatures on record sleeves and photos.
"In the vans, buses, and hotel rooms, bits of paper piled up like confetti, carrying scraps of songs . . . and more scraps were stuffed in the pockets of the trousers Mr. Aspinall carried to the clearner's. He did not keep the scraps. His interest was not exploitation, but service. He was a handy man with a portable iron, and his job was ceaselessly to smooth out the creases in their story.
"Paul and George he knew from school: Paul in [their] Art and English classes, George as a furtive fellow Woodbine-[cigarette] puffer behind the air-raid shelters. [Lennon's school adjoined theirs]. In a sense they were always members of the "Mad Lad" gang, larking together, or hurtling together down a back street as the Teds came after them. And for all the dazzle of the London Palladium or the Ed Sullivan Show, there was perhaps no more evocative venue for Mr. Aspinall than the Casbah Club in the basement of his lover-landlady's house, where behind the rhododendron hedges the Silver Beetles--as they were then--would play on Saturday nights. He had bought the benches and the luminous purple paint that glowed on the walls, and after the show he would guard the equipment. When [his best friend] drummer Pete Best was ditched by the group in favour of Ringo--the most painful test of Mr. Aspinall's loyalty--he ended his affair with Pete's mother, moved out, and continued ferrying the boys in the van to their next show, and to the next shows after that.
Read the entire long article,
complete with eight photos and three videos,
at the Rockin' Down the Highway with Paul Grushkin blog