The Fifth Beatle is a term that has been applied to various persons who were at one point either a member of the band The Beatles or who had a strong association with the “Fab Four” during the group’s existence. So who is the Fifth Beatle? Your definitive answer is here.
First, even the Beatles themselves can’t agree on this. At the Beatles’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, George Harrison said he felt that there were only two “fifth Beatles”: Derek Taylor, the Beatles’ public relations manager, and Neil Aspinall, their road manager and later business executive. Paul McCartney said in a 1997 interview with the BBC, “If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was (manager) Brian Epstein.” John Lennon insisted that there was no fifth Beatle. In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine in 1970, he proclaimed “I’m not the Beatles. I’m me. Paul isn’t the Beatles. Brian Epstein wasn’t the Beatles, neither is (music publisher) Dick James. The Beatles are the Beatles.”
Others have either had the title labeled upon them or adopted the moniker for themselves. Early members of the band including Stu Suttcliff and Pete Best have been called the fifth beatle. George Martin has also been called the fifth Beatle. He produced nearly all of The Beatles’ recordings and helped draw out and package the sound we know today. British pop singer Tony Sheridan has been referred to as the fifth Beatle. He used the group as a backing band for his tours and recordings between 1960 and 1963. Keyboardist Billy Preston has been referred to as the fifth Beatle. He was the only non-group member ever credited on recordings that he made with the band. Some have referred to Preston as the Black Beatle.
Others have taken the title tongue in cheek. New York disc jockey Murray the K was jokingly dubbed the “fifth Beatle” by George Harrison and ran with it, promoting himself with the title for most of his career. Little Richard is quoted as having said he “taught The Beatles everything they knew” and at times has taken claim to the title. British comedians including Jimmy Tarbuck and Mitch Benn claimed Fifth Beatle status. And several other musicians who were part of the Beatles eco system, including Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann have been dubbed with the nickname.
So, while many men may lay claim to the designation, there is only one universally confirmed occurrence of a Fifth Beatle anywhere on any of the recordings which The Beatles ever issued. On the cover of Abbey Road, behind George Harrison, there is clearly a white Volkswagen Beetle on the left side of the album cover. This is the only evidence on record as to the infamous Fifth Beatle. Check it out for yourself below.
— Various Sources
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