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Who Was the Fifth Beatle?

Updated on January 5, 2017

One of the most revered titles in rock 'n' roll, the "Fifth Beatle" is usually referred to the one person who is considered the most trusted and closest person to the greatest band in history. It is an unofficial title, of course, for very few people actually played with the Beatles outside of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Many candidates have been considered for the position; this article will take a look at the best contenders and determine who was the Fifth Beatle.

  1. Stu Sutcliffe. He really was a fifth Beatle. In their early years, Sutcliffe was the Beatles' bassist along with the other four, and McCartney played electric guitar. But on one of their trips to Hamburg, Sutcliffe decided to stay in Germany and go to art school. He died in 1962 of a brain hemorrhage.
  2. Pete Best. Another "former Beatle," Best was the Beatles' drummer from 1960 to 1962 and got just a taste of fame before he was unceremoniously drummed out (pun not intended) of the group, replaced by Starr.
  3. Mal Evans. Nicknamed "The Gentle Giant," Evans was the Beatles' roadie and personal assistant throughout the 60s and was probably closer to the band than anyone. He performed all types of errands and chores and knew how lucky he was to have such a job. He even contributed to a few songs, including "Yellow Submarine" and "A Day in the Life."
  4. Neil Aspinall. He was the Beatles' road manager and later became CEO of Apple Records. Next to Evans, he was probably closest to the band, for he was a childhood friend of McCartney and Harrison.
  5. Billy Preston. He's the only other person ever to be credited on a Beatles single ("Get Back" was by "The Beatles with Billy Preston."). He played electric piano during the Let it Be sessions and is generally credited with saving the ill-fated recording session.
  6. Brian Epstein. The Beatles' first manager, he was responsible for their rise to fame, discovering the band in Liverpool and signing them to their first contract. McCartney himself has said, "If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was Brian."
  7. George Martin. Martin, the Beatles' producer for most of their albums, had a profound influence on their sound, adding strings to such songs as "Yesterday" and "Eleanor Rigby" and overseeing the recording of the legendary Sgt. Pepper. He even scored a few songs on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack.

All are good candidates, and since McCartney cast his vote for Epstein, we must go with that. George Martin gets my vote, though.

Other candidates:

  • Derek Taylor - Beatles publicist
  • Yoko Ono - Lennon's wife - sat in on many later recording sessions
  • Eric Clapton - played on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
  • Jimmy Nicol - played drums with the Beatles during their 1964 tour while Ringo was sick.
  • Klaus Voorman - a friend from the Hamburg days, he was often rumored to replace McCartney in any possible Beatle reunions during the 1970s.
  • Jeff Lynne - produced the "new" Beatles singles in 1994 and 1995 for the Anthology records.

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    • profile image

      Nab 4 years ago

      Got to be Neil Aspinall he was there before they were famous and been with them everywhere and faithfull to the band till the end and he's very close to all members

    • profile image

      jake 4 years ago

      this crap aint true

    • profile image

      EPMA 5 years ago

      Agree.

      The Beatles could still have been The Beatles without Stuart Sutcliffe, Pete Best, Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall and Billy Preston.

      The Beatles could NEVER EVER have been The Beatles without Brian Epstein or George Martin. That's a plain fact.

      It's a pretty logical conclusion, really.

    • profile image

      JG 5 years ago

      With all due respect, anybody who says any other name other than Brian Epstein or George Martin doesn't really know the history of The Beatles.

      - Brian Epstein practically invented The Beatles, in many ways. The man invented the greatest band of all time (do you guys even stop to think about it?). If it wasn't for him, The Beatles might have never made it outside of Liverpool and if they did, they wouldn't have made it big because Epstein was the one that made them sell. And after he died, began the collapse of The Beatles.

      - George Martin is the ultimate legendary producer who is just as responsible for The Beatles' success as Brian Epstein. He was pretty much The Beatles' music teacher. Their music wouldn't have been the same if it wasn't for him. And some idiots here actually think Billy Preston was more important to The Beatles than this man???

      Sutcliffe died before The Beatles made it; Best was sacked; Evans and Aspinall were indeed very close to them but so were their relatives (and I don't see them being listed here just for that) and Preston played with The Beatles only for some months.

      So how exactly can any of them come even close to qualifying for the position, in comparison to the major roles that Epstein and Martin played? It's not even debatable.

      At the end of the day, Brian Epstein was really the 5th Beatle (as Paul McCartney will tell you) and George Martin was the 6th Beatle and the rest are nowhere near having a truly valid claim for the title.

    • Mr Deltoid 1966 profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from New Jersey

      George Martin......Hands down.

    • profile image

      paulina 6 years ago

      yoko was 1 of the reasons that the beatles broke up!!!!!!

      how can she be the fifth beatle?

      well i think the fifth beatle is brian epstien or stu

    • profile image

      paulina 6 years ago

      yoko ono??? are you kidding!!!

    • profile image

      Wealthmadehealthy 6 years ago

      Stu was there at the beginning, and is the only one who would or could possibly qualify.....amazingly, we at work were discussing the fifth beatle the other day...noone here was aware of this little known "Beatle Trivia Fact" and more amazingly that a hubber should have written about this...good job, except for the list at the end.....unless you were a member of the band itself, you do not quality...I agree with eveyc!!!

    • profile image

      eveyc 6 years ago

      I think the only one who should qualify as the fifth beatle is stu sutcliffe. After all he was there at the start.

    • profile image

      Павел 6 years ago

      George Best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Buono 6 years ago

      The Beatles are the blueprint for everything we listen to since. There is no fifth beatle either, all this was created by the industry and press. Managers and music biz people always like to think they're more important than they actually are. Music, like disease, always finds a way.

    • profile image

      Bonzo 6 years ago

      Wots the big deal the Beatles were absolute rubbish

    • profile image

      Glenn P.Stephen 6 years ago

      Billy Preston all the way,He made the band better with his keyboard style unlike anyone else.

    • profile image

      Rodney Trotter 7 years ago

      Also John Lennon may have the leader of the Beatles in 1960, but by the late-60s he was not. McCartney was an equal to him for the vast majority of the time they were together, and certainly all throughout their recording career! Lennon certainly didn't tell him what to do!

    • profile image

      Rodney Trotter 7 years ago

      Stu was not sacked, he left the band. Pete was sacked but that does not stop him being the fifth beatle. In fact if any musician is the fifth beatle it is Pete Best, because when he was in The Beatles there were five members and he was the 5th to join! What's clear is Best made a much more important contribution to the band's legacy than Billy Preston!

    • profile image

      Trix 7 years ago

      i learnt a lot im a huge beatle fan and never new about the 5th beatles

    • profile image

      Greyshot 7 years ago

      The fifth Beatle has to be a musician.

      It can't be Best or Sutcliffe as they were sacked.

      Nicol was only ever a temporary stand-in.

      Billy Preston fits the bill (if anyone does).

      He collaborated on more than one song on more than one album and was nominated to join the Beatles by John Lennon the leader of the group.

    • profile image

      larry howser 8 years ago

      We always regarded Billy Preston as the fifth Beatle

    • bspider profile image

      bspider 8 years ago

      Interesting post, learned a lot. I guess the conclusion of the matter is that there are many candidates for the "5th Beatles", those who helped the Beatles become what they became...and they should get their credit...

    • Shirley Anderson profile image

      Shirley Anderson 9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Sorry, but I can't even consider any of those 'Other Candidates', they just don't do it for me.

      You've made some good arguments for the rest, although I was surprised to see Yoko's name on that list. That's someone I would never have placed in that category.

      For years, I always thought it was Pete Best, then I thought Stu Sutcliffe. Now after what you've said about Paul choosing Brian Epstein, well I have to go with that selection too.

      Thx for the great info!

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