'Fifth Beatle' Aspinall Dies at 66
First road manager became guardian of group's legacy
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2008 7:59 AM CDT
Paul McCartney visited his friend and long time Beatles associate Neil Aspinall, before his death from lung cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering hospital in New York.    (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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(Newser) – "Fifth Beatle" Neil Aspinall, the first road manager of the legendary band who later ran the Beatles' recording company, has died from lung cancer. Aspinall, 66, was the chief guardian of the group's musical legacy after the Beatles broke up. "He vigorously fought to protect the Beatles franchise," said Beatles historian Bruce Spizer. He reignited interest in the Fab Four for a new generation of fans in the 1990s.

Aspinall was a school friend of George Harrison and of Paul McCartney, who visited him in a New York hospital shortly before he died. He spent 40 years working with the Beatles, first driving them to gigs, fending off screaming girls and eventually becoming CEO of Apple Corps. "Neil’s trusting stewardship and guidance has left a legacy for generations to come," said a statement from McCartney, Yoko Ono, and Harrison's widow. He leaves behind a wife and five children.