NEW YORK – Neil Aspinall, a longtime friend of the Beatles who managed their business enterprises and helped make the group a moneymaking phenomenon decades after they split up, has died. He was 66.
Aspinall's death was announced Monday in a statement from surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, and the band's Apple Corps Ltd. company.
Aspinall died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where he had been receiving treatment. The exact date of his death was unclear.
He was a childhood friend of McCartney and Harrison in Liverpool, England. While he didn't contribute musically, he played several key roles in support of the Beatles, most notably as the head of their Apple Corps business, which oversaw the commercial concerns of the group, including licensing.
"I've known Neil many years and he was a good friend. We were blessed to have him in our lives and he will be missed," Starr said in a statement Monday.
Aspinall was the Beatles' first road manager and would drive them to gigs in his van. He later became their personal assistant, and in 1968, he took over the management of Apple Corps.
As head of Apple Corps, Aspinall was executive producer of the hugely successful "Beatles Anthology" album and was behind other successes, including the "Beatles One" album and the recent Cirque du Soleil production "Love," which has been a hit in Las Vegas.
"As a loyal friend, confidant and chief executive, Neil's trusting stewardship and guidance has left a far-reaching legacy for generations to come," the band's statement said.
Aspinall stepped down from Apple Corps last year.
He is survived by his wife, Suzy, and five children, who were with him when he died.