When the Apple
Records label was conceived, everyone, including the other major labels,
initially and incorrectly assumed that it would be distributed by
Capitol Records. In actuality Capitol had no more rights to distribute
the label than anyone else. We actually had to compete with the other
majors for this prize. We did have
one small advantage though; the Beatles were Capitol artists, and
distributing Apple through Capitol Records was the only way the Beatles
were ever going to be on their own label. This fact coupled with rather
substantial pre-established relationships and a common parent company
(EMI) did give us a slight edge! By distributing Apple through Capitol
the Beatles were able to have "Hey Jude" as Apple's debut single release.
Technically, the Beatles were not Apple artists. Although they released
their records on the Apple label, the controlling documents, contracts,
accounting, and record numbers were Capitol's.
We had a convenient coincidence working in our favor once the decision
was made that Capitol would distribute Apple. We were getting ready
to hold our annual convention in Los Angeles, scheduled for the third
week of June 1968. Every salesman, field representative, district
and divisional branch manager, as well as all promotion and field
merchandising managers were going to be in one room at the same time.
In addition, all the major executives and employees from the Tower
(1) would be in attendance.
Wouldn't it be great if one of the Beatles were to come to the convention?
After all, it was a fairly standard occurrence that when a major distribution
deal is made with a new label, one of the owners would almost always
appear to announce the new business relationship.
Which Beatle could we get?
Who would come to Hollywood?
Stanley Gortikov called and inquired.
Paul said 'e would!
Paul, 'e would come to Hollywood!
We "snuck" Paul into town without anyone knowing. No one except Gortikov,
the upper upper echelon, and I knew that we would be distributing
Apple records. Gortikov set the stage by announcing that we were going
to have a special guest make a big announcement at the convention
as a pre-lim excitement teaser. I don't think anyone ever imagined
that it was about Apple and would be made in person by a Beatle.
The convention was in progress, and the big day, Friday, June 21,
arrived. Virtually every employee of any import was seated, awaiting
the festivities. It was totally dark in the auditorium. We secreted
Paul from a holding suite at the Century Plaza Hotel to the convention
room. As he started walking down the aisle from the back of the auditorium,
a stagehand brought the room lights up slowly. A long gasp came out
of the gathering as they began to realize that a real live "in person"
Beatle had walked into their midst. Paul, ever the diplomat, began
waving, smiling, shaking hands, and giving 1960s-type high fives as
he made his way to the stage. Simultaneously, as if by some cosmic
cue, everyone started cheering, clapping, standing up, and shouting
with joy. There was this incredible feeling of mutual affection between
the men and women of Capitol Records and Paul McCartney. I stress
mutual because it was a joy equally shared. The left and right brains
of a phenomenon in the music business journey had come face to face.
This was a case where "them that makes the records" got to meet "them
that breaks the records." Paul was a member of the group that had
given these men and women great prestige, honor, and financial rewards
in their professional and personal lives; and they were there before
him, the men and women who had brought it all home for the Beatles
in America. It was so English and so American-pride and hard work
all mixed into an internationally cowritten song entitled "a job well
Capitol Records USA had done a great job for the Beatles. There was
no debating that America was the most important market for them to
break into. Looking back now, it would seem automatic; after all,
they were the Beatles! But one must remember that acceptance in the
United States was not a given in those days, and many famous European
acts before them had faced dismal failure in the land of American
milk and honey. In fact, because Capitol Records was an EMI company
and had first right of refusal on all foreign EMI acts for the United
States, we had actually passed on the Beatles more than once! Nonetheless,
Paul was aware of and thankful for the job that had ultimately been
done here. As for the Capitol employees, because of a quota/commission
system that was in place at that time, every one of these men and
women became relatively wealthy in just one year, until the system
was revised downward to take into account the incredible Beatles sales
volume. The Beatles had essentially bought them new cars, paid off
mortgages, and established their kids' college funds.
When the Capitol "gang" quieted down, Paul made the announcement about
Apple. The place went absolutely crazy!
Paul attended an outside cocktail party at the Century Plaza Hotel
where he spent time with the field sales/promo/merchandising employees-taking
pictures with each one, chatting with them, sharing his fame in an
exquisitely common manner that endeared him and his bandmates to this
group of hard-working people forever. (They still talk about that
afternoon to this day.) Paul rewarded their efforts with this encounter,
and as a new record company co-co-copresident, he was accomplishing
a powerful public relations push in a hands-on manner by enlisting
and then fueling their enthusiasm for our new label-Apple Records.
When they returned to their homes across the American landscape, you
can imagine the effort they put forth to launch the new Apple venture.
A foreshadowing of the feelings and camaraderie that was to be experienced
that day occurred when I was bringing Paul down the hallway from his
suite to the convention hall. Just prior to the convention I had returned
from Atlanta after hiring an African-American class ring and Bible
salesman to head up Capitol's R&B promotion for the Southern states.
His name was Sydney Miller, and he had one of those personalities
that lit up a room when he walked in. Everyone immediately liked Sydney.
He would give the biggest, and to this day I believe, the most sincere
smile upon meeting you; then Sydney would own you within minutes.
He soon became one of my best men and a loyal friend. I had a sense
about hiring new employees, and I knew from the beginning he would
be a star on my staff horizon. (Good men working under you always
make you look good to the people over you.) Sydney had an amazingly
unique and powerful sense of self, and he offered that into his relationships.
That was why he made everyone glad to be around him.
Anyway, he had gone to his room to get something during the break
and was returning down the hall at the same time we came out of Paul's
suite. The two came face to face, and when Sydney saw Paul, his eyes
got as big as saucers, and he started grinning the happiest look I
had ever seen. Paul had no idea who Sydney was or that he was a Capitol
Records employee-all he knew was that he was standing face to face
with this smiling, joyful black dude in the hallway of an L.A. hotel.
Spontaneously, they embraced, neither saying a word. Sydney walked
away in a daze, and Paul had a serene look on his face before falling
back in step, still looking over his shoulder at Sydney dancing down
the hall. It was simple respect and human nature at its finest. This
was that golden thread that ran through the Beatles' nature and personal
makeup-the thread that binds us all together when we get past all
the stuff that conditioning imposes upon our natural goodness and
love for each other.
The day ended with a round of meetings and dinner and then back to
the hotel. I had booked a bungalow for Paul at the Beverly Hills Hotel
so he would have privacy and an atmosphere conducive to writing songs
for the White Album, the recording of which he had just left behind
in London for a few days.
We entered the lobby of the hotel through the front, and Paul stopped
at the desk to pick up messages. A young boy of about twelve was checking
into the hotel with his mother when all of a sudden he realized that
he was standing next to a Beatle. He was so stunned that he turned
to Paul and started pointing at him and stammering, "You're, . . .
you're, . . . you're, . . . you're . . ." "That's right," Paul interrupted,
"Stevie Wonder!" "Right," the young fellow quickly agreed, "Stevie
Wonder!" As we walked away, the boy's eyes and mouth remained frozen
in the maxed out open position until we walked out the door and into
the garden paths that led to the bungalow outside the lobby.
Interestingly, Paul would always have this startled look on his face
at the public's response when we got out of a limo or walked into
a restaurant. He would act genuinely amazed at the reaction of people
to his presence. His worldwide fame at that time was about four years
old, and it was all so out of whack with his upbringing that he still
couldn't get a grasp on it. He would shake his head and say to me,
"I just don't understand."
Also, this trip
was different for Paul-traveling alone without entourage and all the
prior hype. He was not used to moving about in relative secrecy. This
solo flight allowed him to see things from a different perspective.
He commented one night in the hotel suite that for so long the Beatles
had had to enter buildings, restaurants, hotels, and the like by service
entrances, basement tunnels, alley doors, etc., that it was nice to
see the front entrances and nice parts of the places he was visiting
on this U.S. visit. American hotel lobbies and curbsides were new
The next day I was hanging about the bungalow, being generally available,
while Paul was writing new songs and rewriting others. Ron Kass had
tried to convince Paul to carry a tape recorder of some sort around
with him because Paul would write incredible song after incredible
song and then totally forget them. He would sing an absolute stunner
to us in the living room on Monday, and then on Tuesday we would ask
him to sing that great song he wrote the day before and he wouldn't
have a clue what we were talking about. Anyway, because I was there,
hanging about, he started including me in his musical constructions.
I got wrapped up that afternoon in the words and intent of "Ob-La-Di,
Ob-La-Da" and "Back in the USSR." On the way home that night, I realized
I had, in a sense, just spent the afternoon songwriting with Paul
McCartney! Of course, when the album came out later, I wasn't surprised
when I didn't see my name as a cowriter.
was surprised, however, to see the songs listed as Lennon-McCartney
compositions, because to my knowledge John had nothing to do with
them. That's when I learned something. Although the public was still
mostly unaware of the unique nature of the world-famous Lennon-McCartney
songwriting team, I began to vaguely grasp the unspoken part of the
intangible structure of their business, as well as their musical and
personal friendship. They told me that they considered each other,
at that time, such an integral part of each other's influences that
they were in some ethereal way writing songs together, even when apart.
For me it was a unique day that didn't necessarily pay well but was
one that money can't buy (me luv). To this day I wouldn't trade it
"Got to Get You into My Life"
That day had an unusual ending. We had taken a break, and Paul had
gone into the bathroom. The suite was laid out with a dining area
and living area on one side separated by a hall that ran alongside
with a bedroom at each end and a bathroom in the middle. The door
to the hallway was midway between the dining and living areas. With
Paul out of the room, I answered a knock at the door and met Linda
Eastman for the first time. "Hello, may I help you?" I asked. Speaking
through me, not to me, she vaguely replied, "Is Paul here?" Over my
shoulder she saw Paul coming through the door that led from the bedroom/bathroom
portion of the suite and wham-she went past me like a Notre Dame football
tackle. She full force embraced him in the doorway, push-pulled him
through it, slammed it shut, and that was the last I saw of him or
her that day.
I waited around for about an hour because I had this great idea for
a line in "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" that I knew he was dying to hear. I
finally gave up and went home. I am not quite sure what happened that
night, but I do know that Linda was with us until I put them on a
plane heading east (man!).
"Linda in the Sky With . . ."
The next day I drove Paul and Linda to L.A.X. They were flying to
New York together and then he was going ahead on to London. After
we had checked in and secured tickets and seating arrangements, Paul
announced that he was hungry and opted for a hot dog from a little
stand L.A.X. used to have at the top of the escalators. These stands
were short-lived but were strategically placed close to the gates
so that people in a hurry could grab a quick bite to eat. We went
to the stand, ordered a couple of dogs, and stood at the stand and
ate them. Paul McCartney caused bedlam wherever he went, yet that
day no one was even aware that they were standing elbow to elbow with
a Beatle while they were grabbing their fast eats.
We started back toward the gate when we were gathered up by a group
of airport officials who advised us that there was a bomb threat on
the plane. They explained that they had set aside a special room for
our comfort so that Paul wouldn't be mobbed by the crowds during an
extended wait. The wait did become extended and a couple of hours
soon passed. I later found out that the bomb scare was a ruse-they
were actually going through Paul's luggage searching for drugs! (Years
later I went through a horrendous experience with Pattie Harrison
when she was given a "complete" body search for the same reason at
this same airport.)
The airport officials found no bomb (or drugs!), and it was finally
time to board. During the long wait we had talked about England, and
I told him how much I was looking forward to my first trip to London.
(I had not been officially appointed to the Apple U.S. manager position
yet and at that time was acting in the capacity of Capitol's national
promotion manager and director of the Artist Relations Department.
I didn't know how involved I would be with the Apple venture.) Before
leaving, Paul took a medallion he had worn during the trip from around
his neck and put it around mine. I had admired it earlier in the week
because of its uniqueness. "You better be wearing this the next time
I see you" he said. He started boarding, stopped, turned around, and
said, "In London!"
As it turned out, Ron Kass told me later that McCartney was mainly
responsible for bringing me to Apple and had already made the decision
when he left L.A. that day.
Those were the days, my friend, but that was the day as far as I am
Capitol Industries' main offices were located just off Hollywood Boulevard
and Vine Street in Hollywood, California.
Nicknamed the "Tower," this building housed the major executives and
creative personnel who ran the company. Originally designed to look
like a stack of records, the finished product was not aesthetically
pleasing. Window treatments and the "sun dial" or "needle" on top
were added later to give it dimension and alleviate the unplanned
of the building. At first, working in that building is a little unusual
in that furniture never quite fits right on the slightly curved outside
wall of your office. There was also something symmetrically and psychologically
unsettling about having an office with no square corners!