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The Beatles documentary: Inside Apple Corps with the staff who worked there | The Independent

The Beatles documentary: Inside Apple Corps with the staff who worked there | The Independent

The Beatles documentary: Inside Apple Corps with the staff who worked there | The Independent
June 13
12:34 2017

It was when the hungry and belligerent Hell’s Angel Pete Knell threatened to smash his fist into John Lennon’s face at the office Christmas Party that it finally became apparent that the beautiful dream of Apple Corps wasn’t sustainable. Knell had already knocked out one of the other partygoers, a well-spoken English “twit” who had tried to tell him it wasn’t “cool” to be hungry. Actor and author Peter Coyote, a close friend of Knell’s, intervened, telling Lennon (who was dressed as Santa Claus) to sit down before the Hell’s Angel could strike again. This incident took place in the Georgian building in Savile Row, Mayfair, that served as Apple Corps’s offices.Apple Corps was the venture set up by the Beatles in 1968. It was somewhere between a conventional entertainment business and a hippy Nirvana. The story of the early years of the company is told in Ben Lewis’s entertaining and surprising new film, The Beatles, Hippies And Hell’s Angels. This is a Beatles documentary with a difference. There are no screaming teenagers or scenes of John, Paul, Ringo, George singing “Love Me Do”.

Coyote (the former hippy turned star of such movies as E.T. and Bitter Moon) is an interviewee. After all, he was there as part of the posse of Californian Hell’s Angels and counter-culture figures invited to Apple’s London HQ by George Harrison for reasons that are still a little obscure. With his wonderfully gravelly voice, Coyote is also the narrator of the film.

This isn’t an official documentary. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the remaining living Beatles, aren’t involved. Lewis, though, has tracked down the secretaries, journalists, DJs, sound engineers, musicians, accountants, hairdressers and free-loaders who lived, worked and hung out at Apple Corps. He tells a story at once comical and very sad. If you want to know why the Beatles split up, you will find out here.

This is one of the few rock docs in which the accountant’s voice features as strongly as that of his music biz clients. As Steven Maltz, the account at Apple, explains on camera, he had been going through the group’s papers in 1966 and was shocked to discover “nothing had been done.” The Beatles hadn’t filled in their tax returns. They were then probably the most successful band in the world and yet they were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Maltz told the musicians that they should start businesses and invest in them to save themselves from having to give all their money to the taxman.

Apple Corps was an exercise in capitalism but one launched in a very hippy fashion. The new venture involved music, films, fashion and electronics. The aim was to use music to change the world. “All the profits won’t go into our pockets. They’ll go to help people, but not like a charity,” McCartney explained the enterprise in a 1968 interview. Given this approach, it was little wonder that Apple Corps was soon haemorrhaging money as the Fab Four invested in some of the most unlikely new businesses and were fleeced by a variety of chancers. The irony is that the story the documentary tells is almost identical to that of the Eric Idle/Neil Innes Beatles spoof, The Rutles – All You Need Is Cash (1978).

Source: The Beatles documentary: Inside Apple Corps with the staff who worked there | The Independent

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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