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|Parent company||Apple Corps|
Universal Music Group
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
Apple Records is a record label founded by the Beatles in 1968, as a division of Apple Corps Ltd. It was initially intended as a creative outlet for the Beatles, both as a group and individually, plus a selection of other artists including Mary Hopkin, James Taylor, Badfinger, and Billy Preston. In practice, by the mid-1970s, the roster had become dominated with releases by the former Beatles as solo artists. Allen Klein managed the label from 1969 to 1973. It was then managed by Neil Aspinall on behalf of the four Beatles and their heirs. He retired in 2007 and was replaced by Jeff Jones.
Early years: 1967–1969
Apple Corps was conceived by the band by 1967, after the death of their manager Brian Epstein; the first project the Beatles released after the formation of Apple Corps was their film Magical Mystery Tour, which was produced under the Apple Films division. Apple Records was officially founded by the group after their return from India in 1968, as another sub-division of Apple Corps, which was established as a small group of companies (Apple Retail, Apple Publishing, Apple Electronics and so on), as part of Epstein's plan to create a tax-effective business structure.
At this time, the Beatles were contracted to EMI's Parlophone label in the United Kingdom and Capitol Records in the United States. In a new distribution deal, EMI and Capitol agreed to distribute Apple Records until 1975, while EMI retained ownership of the Beatles' recordings. Beatles recordings issued in the United Kingdom on the Apple label carried Parlophone catalogue numbers, while US issues carried Capitol catalogue numbers. Apple Records owns the rights to all of the Beatles' videos and movie clips, and the rights to recordings of other artists signed to the label. The first catalogue number, Apple 1, was a one-off pressing of Frank Sinatra singing "Maureen Is a Champ" (with lyrics by Sammy Cahn) to the melody of "The Lady Is a Tramp" for Ringo Starr's then-wife Maureen. BeatlesandBeyond Radio presenter Pete Dicks reports that the title is actually "Lady is a Champ"; it was a surprise gift for Maureen's 21st birthday.
Initially, Apple Records and Apple Publishing signed a number of acts whom the Beatles personally discovered or supported, and in most cases one or more of the Beatles would be involved in the recording sessions. Several notable artists were signed in the first year including James Taylor, Mary Hopkin, Billy Preston, the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Iveys (who later became Badfinger), Doris Troy, and former Liverpool singer Jackie Lomax, who recorded George Harrison's "Sour Milk Sea".
Klein era: 1970–1975
In 1969, the Beatles were in need of financial and managerial direction and Lennon was introduced to Allen Klein through Mick Jagger, as Klein was managing the Rolling Stones at the time. Klein went on to manage Apple, by virtue of his three-to-one support from the Beatles, Paul McCartney being the only group member opposed to his involvement. (McCartney had suggested his then new father-in-law Lee Eastman for the job.)
After Klein took control of Apple, several sub-divisions, including Apple Electronics, were shut down, and some of Apple Records' artistic roster effectively dropped. Thereafter, new signings were not so numerous, and tended to arrive through the individual actions of ex-Beatles, with the formal approval of the others (e.g., Elephant's Memory were recruited through John Lennon, and Ravi Shankar through Harrison). McCartney had little input into Apple Records' roster after 1970. Klein managed Apple Corp. until March 1973 when his contract expired.
In May 1971, the Beatles' entire pre-Apple catalogue on the American Capitol label (from the singles I Want To Hold Your Hand to Lady Madonna and from the albums Meet The Beatles! to Magical Mystery Tour) were re-issued on the Apple label, although the album covers remained unchanged with the Capitol logos.
Beatles re-issues: 1976–2006
Apple Records' distribution contract with EMI expired in 1976 and control of the Beatles' catalogue, including solo recordings to date by George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr, reverted to EMI (Paul McCartney had acquired ownership of his solo recordings when he re-signed with Capitol in 1975). The original UK versions of the Beatles' albums were released worldwide on compact disc in 1987 and 1988 on the Parlophone label. Previously, Abbey Road had been issued on CD by the EMI-Odeon label in Japan in the early 1980s. Although this was a legitimate release, it was not authorised by the Beatles, EMI or Apple Corps. Following the settlement of Apple's ten-year lawsuit against EMI in 1989, new projects began to move forward, including the Live at the BBC album and The Beatles Anthology series. It was after the Anthology project (spearheaded by Neil Aspinall) that the company resumed making significantly large profits again and began its revival.
Revival: 2006 to present
In 2006 the label was again newsworthy, as the long-running dispute between Apple Records' parent company and Apple Inc. went to the High Court (see Apple Corps v Apple Computer). In 2007, Apple Records settled a dispute with EMI over royalties, and announced that long term chief executive Neil Aspinall had retired and been replaced by American music industry executive Jeff Jones. These changes led to speculation that the Apple Records catalogue—and most importantly the Beatles discography—would soon appear on Apple Inc.'s iTunes online music store, and that a remastering and reissue program of the Beatles' CDs might be forthcoming (Jones having worked on reissues at Sony). On 1 July 2010, it was reported that Capitol Records was planning a re-release strategy for most of Apple's back catalogue. This would include re-releases of material by artists who worked at Apple including Badfinger, James Taylor, Billy Preston and Mary Hopkin. On 16 November 2010, Apple Inc. launched an extensive advertising campaign that announced the availability of the Beatles' entire catalogue on iTunes.
Standard Apple album and single labels displayed a bright green Granny Smith apple on the A-side, while the flipside displayed the cross section of the apple. The bright green apple returned for Beatles CDs releases in the 1990s, following initial CD releases on Parlophone.
On the US issue of the Beatles' Let It Be album, the Granny Smith apple was red. The reason was that in the United States that album, being the soundtrack to the movie of the same name, was, for contractual reasons, being manufactured and distributed by United Artists Records and not Capitol Records, so the red apple was used to mark the difference. The red apple also appeared on the back cover, and on the 2009 remastered edition back cover. In the late 1970s, Capitol's parent company EMI purchased United Artists Records and Capitol gained the American rights to the Let It Be soundtrack album (along with the American rights to another, earlier, United Artists Beatles movie soundtrack LP, 1964's A Hard Day's Night).
Aside from the red apple, other examples in which the apple has been altered include George Harrison's album All Things Must Pass triple album, on which the first two discs have orange apples while the third has a jar label reading Apple Jam; black and white apples on John Lennon's album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Yoko Ono's album Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band; a blue apple on Ringo Starr's single "Back Off Boogaloo"; Harrison's album Extra Texture (Read All About It), on which the apple (in shrunken cartoon form) is eaten away at its core (this was intended to be a joke because it was released at a time when Apple Records was beginning to fold); and a red apple on Starr's compilation album Blast from Your Past. Other types of apples were also used: in 1971, for Lennon's Imagine and Ono's Fly, the apples respectively featured pictures of Lennon and Ono, as did the apples for Ono's 1973 Approximately Infinite Universe and the singles that were released from these three albums.
Zapple Records, an Apple Records subsidiary run by Barry Miles, a friend of McCartney, was intended as an outlet for the release of spoken word and avant garde records, as a budget label. It was active from 3 February 1969 until June 1969, and only two albums were released on the label, one by Lennon and Ono (Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions) and one by Harrison (Electronic Sound). An album of readings by Richard Brautigan was planned for release as Zapple 3, and acetate disc copies were cut, but, said Miles, "The Zapple label was folded by Klein before the record could be released. The first two Zapple records did come out. We just didn't have [Brautigan's record] ready in time before Klein closed it down. None of the Beatles ever heard it." Brautigan's record was eventually released as Listening to Richard Brautigan on Harvest Records, a subsidiary of Apple distributor EMI, in the US only.
The first record that was done for Zapple was by poet Charles Olson. According to Miles, a spoken word album by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, which had been recorded and edited, would have been Zapple 4, and a spoken word album by Michael McClure had also been recorded. A planned Zapple release of a UK appearance by comedian Lenny Bruce was never completed. An early 1969 press release also named Pablo Casals as an expected guest on the label. American author Ken Kesey was given a tape recorder to record his impressions of London, but they were never released. Miles also had the intention of bringing world leaders to the label. Zapple was shut down in June 1969 by Klein, apparently with the backing of Lennon.
Artists who signed with Apple Records
- Badfinger (originally known as the Iveys) – Signed to Apple after several demo tapes were brought in by Mal Evans, after getting approval from McCartney, Harrison and Lennon. They had several top 10 hits in the UK and US, including the Paul McCartney song "Come and Get It", and recorded five albums for Apple.
- Black Dyke Mills Band (as John Foster & Sons Ltd. Black Dyke Mills Band) – A north of England brass band whom Paul McCartney employed for the one-off "Thingummybob"/"Yellow Submarine" single. It was recorded by McCartney on location near Bradford, where the group were based.
- Brute Force (stage name of Stephen Friedland) – George Harrison attempted to have his song "King of Fuh" released as an Apple single. EMI refused to handle it due to its intentionally vulgar double entendre ("Fuh king"), but Apple manufactured a small number of copies in-house which were made available to the public. The song itself appears on the 2010 compilation, Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records.
- Elastic Oz Band – A one-off single, "God Save Us", was written and produced by John Lennon and Yoko Ono to raise money for a legal battle involving Oz magazine. The A-side of the single was sung by Bill Elliot, later of George Harrison's Dark Horse Records signing Splinter.
- Elephant's Memory – Recruited as backing band for John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and also released material separately, including contributions to the soundtrack of the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy (not on Apple).
- Chris Hodge – Discovered by Ringo Starr; they shared an interest in UFOs. Hodge only released two singles on Apple, the second not issued in the UK.
- Mary Hopkin – Discovered after appearing on a UK television talent show. Early recordings were produced by Paul McCartney, including the Lennon-McCartney original "Goodbye" and her hit recording of "Those Were the Days". She also released a Eurovision Song Contest entry on Apple ("Knock Knock, Who's There") and two studio albums.
- Hot Chocolate (as Hot Chocolate Band) – Released one single, a reggae version of "Give Peace A Chance", which they recorded and had played to John Lennon, who liked it. Their post-Apple releases as Hot Chocolate were more commercially successful.
- Jackie Lomax – Liverpudlian singer known via his Brian Epstein connections, he recorded the Harrison-produced album Is This What You Want?, released in 1969, which also includes musical contributions from Starr and McCartney. Lomax's first single, "Sour Milk Sea", features those three Beatles and was written by Harrison.
- Modern Jazz Quartet – Associated with Yoko Ono, and were famous prior to their involvement with Apple. They released two albums for the label, Under the Jasmin Tree and Space.
- Yoko Ono – Recorded extensively with John Lennon and released several singles and albums herself, with Lennon usually performing, and directing the band.
- David Peel and the Lower East Side – Political folk singer brought to the label by John Lennon.
- Billy Preston – Brought in to work with the Beatles in January 1969 on their "Get Back"/"Let It Be" sessions, and signed as a solo artist. George Harrison produced Preston's recordings, including the 1969 hit single "That's The Way God Planned It". Preston's recording of Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" was released on Apple before Harrison's version. Preston issued two albums on Apple in 1969–70.
- Radha Krishna Temple (London), the UK branch of the Hare Krishna movement – George Harrison brought the Temple devotees to the label in 1969 and produced two hits singles by them over 1969–70, including "Hare Krishna Mantra", as well as their eponymous studio album, released in 1971.
- Ravi Shankar – An Indian classical musician. George Harrison brought Shankar to the label in 1971 and produced his Apple releases, which included the Raga soundtrack and In Concert 1972, a double live album with Ali Akbar Khan.
- Ronnie Spector – Married to Phil Spector, who separately worked with the Beatles and solo Beatles from 1970 onwards. George Harrison wrote, co-produced and played on her only Apple single, "Try Some, Buy Some", which was made with her husband, as an attempt to revive her recording career.
- The Sundown Playboys – A French-language cajun band from Louisiana. A pre-existing single was brought to the label by Ringo Starr.
- John Tavener – A classical composer. His brother, a builder, worked on Ringo Starr's house, and Starr took interest in Tavener.
- James Taylor – Recorded with Paul McCartney, who appears on the Apple LP which launched his career.
- Trash (originally White Trash) – Brought to Apple by Tony Meehan, formerly of the Shadows. Their second single was a cover of "Golden Slumbers" and charted on Apple in the UK.
- Doris Troy – An American soul artist since the early 1960s, who worked with George Harrison and Billy Preston while the latter was signed to Apple. Troy recorded one Apple album, and released two spin-off singles in 1970, the first of which, "Ain't That Cute", was co-written with Harrison. Starr also collaborated on the album and is credited as a co-writer with Harrison and Troy on some of the tracks.
- Lon and Derek Van Eaton – Signed to the label in September 1971 by George Harrison, who produced their debut single, "Sweet Music". Starr also contributed to the recording, and to other tracks on the Van Eatons' 1972 Apple album, Brother.
Also released were the soundtracks to Come Together and El Topo (in the US), the onetime Philles Records compilation Phil Spector's Christmas Album and the multi-artist The Concert for Bangla Desh. Cassette and 8-track tape versions of Bangla Desh were marketed by Columbia Records, in a deal that permitted the inclusion of Bob Dylan, a Columbia artist, on the album.
Artists who had considerable success in the pop and rock world after their initial sessions at Apple Records include Badfinger (originally known as the Iveys), James Taylor, Mary Hopkin, Hot Chocolate, Yoko Ono and Billy Preston.
Artists who auditioned to appear on the label, but did not make it, include:
- McGough and McGear (who was also McCartney's brother), whose self-titled album was due to be released on Apple, but it was released on Parlophone Records, to which both were signed, as members of The Scaffold;
- Grapefruit, whose single "Dear Delilah" was issued on RCA Records with Apple Records publishing credit;
- Focal Point, a Liverpool band who were going to be managed by Brian Epstein before he died, were signed to Apple after chasing Paul McCartney around Hyde Park. John Lennon and Brian Epstein signed them to Apple, and they were the first band signed. Their single "Sycamore Sid" was issued on Deram Records with credit to Apple Publishing on the label.
- Fire (a band with future Strawbs member Dave Lambert on guitar) released two singles in 1968, "Father's Name Was Dad", (produced by Tony Clarke) and "Round the Gum Tree", on Decca with Apple publishing credits.
- Delaney and Bonnie's Accept No Substitute album was originally meant to be released on Apple in 1969; it was first released commercially on Elektra Records the same year. In England, copies of the LP were pressed before Apple realized the band was already contracted to Elektra. No album covers were ever printed and the disc is now a high-value Apple collectible.
- Mortimer were a folk-based three-piece, notable for a recording of the Beatles' "Two of Us". It was planned for release as an Apple single in 1969 (before the Beatles' version was issued) under the title "On Our Way Home", but the release was cancelled.
- Raven – was offered a contract to record with Apple after George Harrison received a tape from band manager, Marty Angelo. Harrison was unable to produce but sent Apple A&R chief, Peter Asher to NYC to discuss him being an alternative producer. This is documented in The Longest Cocktail Party book and in Angelo's autobiography "Once Life Matters: A New Beginning." The band turned Asher's offer down and instead signed with Columbia Records in 1969.
- Slow Dog (Wheels) were a Cambridge-based rock band headed up by Scottish singer/guitarist Dave Kelly. They were the winners of the Apple Records-sponsored national talent contest early 1969, organised by Asher prior to his departure for the US. The winner of the talent contest was promised a record contract with Apple Records, but the band only recorded demo tracks, due to Asher's departure. However, on the recommendation from Beatles' roadie Mal Evans, Warner Bros. Records in London, headed up by Ian Ralfini, signed Slow Dog to a record contract, officially changing their name to Wheels.
- See also Zapple Records section for cancelled releases.
- Apple Corps v Apple Computer
- List of record labels
- The Longest Cocktail Party, an inside account of Apple Corps by Richard DiLello
- Gould 2008, pp. 470–473
- Lennon 2006, p. 323
- Kronemeyer, David (15 May 2009). "Deconstructing Pop Culture: The Beatles' Contract History with Capitol Records". MuseWire. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- Kozinn, Allan, "Magical Mystery Tour Ends for Apple Corps Executive", New York Times, 12 April 2007, passim. (link)
- Evans, Jonny, "EMI, Apple Corps deal good news for iTunes?", Macworld, 12 April 2007
- Friedman, Roger, 1 July 2010, "The Beatles' Apple Records: Making a Comeback"
- The Beatles Now on iTunes - Apple Inc. press release
- Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0.
- Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0.
- Barry Miles, as quoted by Richie Unterberger in the sleevenotes to the eventual non-Apple release of Listening to Richard Brautigan.
- Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. pp. 13, 15. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0.
- The Archive Hour, BBC Radio 4, 12 June 2004
- Angelo, Marty (2006). Once Life Matters: A New Beginning. Impact Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9618954-4-0.
- The Beatles (2003). The Beatles Anthology (DVD). Apple Records. ASIN:B00008GKEG (Bar Code: 24349 29699).
- Brown, Peter; Gaines, Steven (2002). The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles. NAL Trade. ISBN 978-0-451-20735-7.
- DiLello, Richard (2005). The Longest Cocktail Party. Canongate Books. ISBN 1-84195-602-3.
- Gould, Jonathan (2008). Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. London: Piatkus. ISBN 978-0-7499-2988-6.
- Lennon, Cynthia (2006). John. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-89828-3.
- Miles, Barry (1998). Many Years From Now. Vintage-Random House. ISBN 0-7493-8658-4.
- Spitz, Bob (2005). The Beatles: The Biography. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 1-84513-160-6.
- Wenner, Jann (2000). Lennon Remembers. London: Verso. ISBN 1-85984-600-9.