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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.
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".
In 1969, the Beatles were in need of financial and managerial direction and Lennon was approached by Allen Klein, manager of 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.
After Klein's departure, Apple was then managed by Neil Aspinall on behalf of the four Beatles and their heirs. 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.
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.
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: