Neil Stanley Aspinall (13 October 1941 – 24 March 2008) was a Welsh-born English music industry executive. A school friend of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, he went on to head the Beatles‘ company Apple Corps.
The Beatles employed Aspinall as their road manager and personal assistant, which included driving his old Commer van to and from shows, both day and night. After Mal Evans started work for the Beatles, Aspinall was promoted to become their personal assistant, later becoming chief executive of their company, Apple Corps.
On behalf of Apple, Aspinall was involved in notable court cases against Allen Klein, EMI and Apple Computer. He supervised the marketing of music, videos and merchandising, as well being a director of Standby Films, which was run from his home in Twickenham, London. On 10 April 2007, Aspinall retired from Apple Corps and died of lung cancer in New York in 2008.
The Beatles played at the opening of the Casbah Coffee Club on 29 August 1959, which was in the cellar of Mona Best‘s house. Aspinall later rented a room in the house and became very good friends with then-Beatle Pete Best. The Beatles had previously used public transport to get to local gigs, but by February 1961, they were playing two or three concerts per night at different locations and needed someone to drive them. Best asked Aspinall to be a part-time road manager for the band, so Aspinall bought an “old, grey and maroon Commer van” for £80, and charged each of the group five shillings (25p) per concert. Harrison later said: “Our early van became the centre of attention every time it pulled up. It was brush-painted red and grey and from head to foot was covered in graffiti – girls’ names, and things like ‘I love you, John’. It looked interesting, but the moment anybody saw it they would feel free to write all over it.” The Beatles returned from their second trip to Hamburg in July 1961, and Aspinall left his job to become their permanent road manager, as he was earning more money driving them around than he was earning by being an accountant.
The Beatles were driven down to London by Aspinall on New Year’s Eve in 1961, for the now-famous Decca audition, but Aspinall lost his way, and the trip took ten hours. They arrived at 10 o’clock at night, and John Lennon said that they arrived “just in time to see the drunks jumping in the Trafalgar Square fountains.” In 1963, he was joined by Mal Evans, who also helped set up the Beatles’ equipment (and acted as a bodyguard) which freed Aspinall to concentrate on other duties, like arranging appointments or buying things for them, such as suits, boots, meals, or drinks.