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Who Was the Fifth Beatle?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.