has worked with some of the biggest giants in the rock 'n'
roll and country music industries. As the former U.S.
Manager of Apple Records, he was invited by his bosses,
The Beatles, to run their record label. He was a loyal
employee and companion to John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George
Harrison and Ringo Starr both during the band years and
well after their 1970 breakup. As a record label executive
and Grammy Award-winning producer, he also worked on the
marketing, promotion and production of dozens of albums
by top-selling artists, such as the Beach Boys, Glen Campbell,
and The Band, and was a major player in the 1970s as producer
of the groundbreaking Outlaw movement in country music,
whose impact is still felt in the genre to this very day.
Now, Mansfield's experiences with the Fab Four and
the music industry are recounted in his new memoir The White Book: The Beatles,
the Bands, the Biz: An Insider's Look at an Era,
which hit bookstore shelves on October 30, 2007. The
White Book will be packaged in a limited, numbered eiditon,
a la the original copies of The Beatles highly influential
double album from 1968, also nicknamed The White Album.
his memories of The Beatles as a true member of the group's
inner sanctum in a recent interview with Daytrippin'.
Question: Your first book, The
Beatles, The Bible and Bodega Bay
was released in 2000 and became a best-seller. Seven
years later, you have written The White Book.
What's the difference between the two?
Mansfield: So many people asked me to expand on the
Beatle stories from BB&BB -- they wanted more
stories about my time with the Beatles and also asked me
to include stories about my association with other artists
of their era such as Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, David
Cassidy etc. Once I got into these reflections the
book, much like The White Album, began taking on
a life of its own, becoming a much more complicated project
than originally intended. I was a songwriter during
most of my 30 years in the music industry and I found there
was a rhythm to the story as it developed and like a song
it required a definite literary melodic feel - intro, verse,
chorus and fade ending. Music industry historian Brent
Stoker assumed the task of creative editor and we laid things
out chronologically as best we could in order to make it
a book not only about my times with the Beatles but to also
give an inside look at the artists of their era and the
industry we were involved in. It became a broader
stroke about a unique time in history - the subtitle describes
it well: The Beatles The Bands and The Biz: An
Inside Look at an Era.
Your style of writing and storytelling is quite different
in that you bounce back and forth between time frames but
the reader is able to follow you. What was your literary
influence and why did you choose to write in this style?
KM: The format for BB&BB was influenced by an approach
Kurt Vonnegut used in his book Slaughterhouse Five.
I loved the way he jumped from one chapter to the next with
no transition or explanation, giving the reader a rather
delightful literary whiplash. He would be rushing his wife
to the hospital to have a baby and without completing that
story he would begin the next chapter with a flashback where
he is in a foxhole during World War II and from there without
warning he would be on a space platform with a hot babe.
It freed me to think and write non-chronologically. So in
BB&BB this led me to bounce back and forth between conversations
with God on the beach to being on the roof with the Beatles
for their last concert, and like Vonnegut there would be
no transitional language -- I would go straight from the
roof to the beach ignoring time and geography in my story
telling. In contrast I took an entirely different
approach to The White Book.
BB &BB, the Beatles Anthology and now The
White Book are the only three books ever to be authorized
by the Beatles. Why do you think that is?
me make a quick clarification, BB&BB in its entirety
was approved by the Beatles and Apple. George was alive
during the first approval process and for The White Book,
Olivia approved George's portions as did Yoko for John.
In answer to your question --I felt so privileged to have
been invited into their personal and business world that
once I wrote the first book I felt a moral obligation to
make sure that I didn't betray their trust and to grant
them the courtesy of not writing things about them that
were either untrue or inaccurate as has been the case with
most of the books written before about them. A handful of
us who were allowed inside the Beatles world had made a
pact that in later years we would not write about our experiences
with them -- not because the Beatles asked us not to but
because we had such respect for them. Over dinner
one night in the early '90s Ringo asked me when I was going
to write my book and I told him about my decision not to.
The outcome of our conversation that night was that he basically
released me to go ahead if I wanted because he trusted me
to not go "dark" on him and his mates. It was several
years before I did write about my time with them and I couldn't
believe how many authors of other Beatles tomes called me
asking how I had gotten permission to use Apple pics and
how I managed to get the Beatles approvals. They said
not only were they unable to get permissions but that they
couldn't even get Neil Aspinall or anyone to take their
calls or give them consideration.
Q: Let's start at the beginning with your association with
The Beatles. When did you meet them and how did that
grow into becoming the U.S. Manager of Apple Records?
I was in the right place at the right time. I was
in charge of promotion and artist relations for the western
states at Capitol Records when they came to California on
their 1965 tour so it was my official job to work with them
-- press conferences, etc. I was in my twenties and the
resident hip young guy on the label and we simply hit it
off. Because of their exaggerated fame, their relationships
with record company executives was at the highest levels,
you know --a "Lord" of EMI, a "Chairman of the Board" of
Capitol Industries, all older "suits". We worked together
one day and the next day they had the day off and invited
me up to their house to hang out. I was the tan California
guy and we were equally fascinated with each other's cultures.
I worked with them the following year when they came to
America and when they decided to set up Apple, I was their
man in America so they sent for me to set up the US launch
and to run the label in the world's most important market.
Q: Give a brief thumbnail sketch of each Beatle as you perceived
was the energetic one, the one that seemed like the popular
kid in high school. He was the one whom you would
cruise main street with your arms hanging over the car door
edge, pressing tight to make your muscles look bigger.
He would be the guy who would wave at the girls and slow
down so they could jump in the back. I never felt
a strong personal agenda coming from Paul, and by that I
mean that it didn't feel like you had to figure out who
he was or where he was coming from. He was always
presenting the next project or place to go. It was
the sheer impetus of purpose that put things in motion so
what you saw was an idea and a goal, and none of it needed
complicated examination. "Here's what we are about to
do and that was exactly what we were about to do."
me, Paul was the unabashed leader of the group, the hard-charging
one with the ideas and the one that on the surface seemed
to be less troubled about things in general. I've
said it before that he was like a hyper-kinetic kid that
never slowed down - the difference being that he was able
to harness this energy into his god-given musical talent
and just let 'er rip. In all honesty, he wore me out.
It was fun, the times I got to hang with him or work with
him, but his tempo was maddening and his energy pool bottomless.
I did have an underlying pressure as the US manager of their
company so that I couldn't just totally go with the flow
and hang out and party. My responsibilities were always
looming in the back of my mind. If we had been high
school buddies and there had been no fame, I think Paul
would be the kind of person who would be great to hook up
with again at class reunions. It would always be good
to see him again. He, like the other Beatles, had
an admirable sense of loyalty to their old mates.
I was with Paul when he brought Ivan Vaughn, an old friend
from his Liverpool school days to LA with him to just
hang out. He was certainly no one famous or even in
the business - just an old friend hanging out with a mate
who just happened to be the "cute Beatle."
George was the one you would have seen in the cafeteria
keeping to himself. But he would also be the one to
move things aside in order to make room for you when you
sat down in the seat next to him. He would welcome
the company and share in the moment in an easy manner.
He was the kind of guy that a slow, easy friendship would
develop with over time and without the fame an everyday
George would have probably been the perfect neighbor.
He was so gentle and easy to be with. There was thoughtfulness
in his responses to things as they were happening whether
it was the conversation or the next move. He was the
modelof a man at peace with what was going on inside and
his serenity spilled out into his surroundings. I
could talk with him about simple things and was able to
forget the Apple stuff because I could tell that the world
didn't begin and end with that for him. He would be
more concerned about how I was doing rather than
what I was doing. We shared some very personal times
together because we were young, happening dudes with new
wives who liked each other. I got to be the LA guy
with him during his frequent and extended stays. Just
because we were in Hollywood didn't mean we had to be crazy.
It was simple and easy being with George - we would go buy
jeans together or sit around the house late at night and
not say much.
John was the different one. He was the kid who also
might be eating his lunch alone but would probably be standing
up, leaning against the soda machine looking out across
the lunchroom like it was another planet. There was
always this sense that he was a bit unapproachable and he
would be the one to do the approaching if anything was going
to come down on a personal level. I spent less time
with him than the others with the main difference being
that I never had that alone time away from the band or Yoko
- except for the day over at Ringo's LA home in 1976.
That particular event was an accidental encounter and definitely
not a bonding moment.
I have written a lot about John in The White Book
and it surprised me how many pages I spent on him after
having had so little contact. I believe it was because
of the complexity of his nature that it took more words
to describe him. He was a brooder. There seemed
a distance in place that made me always wonder how our exchanges
were being digested and assimilated. I found in time
this had more to do with my insecurities than his inaccessibility.
He was very focused and intent at times and didn't have
time for niceties. When I finally understood him better
I found this to be because he was very straight ahead and
honest when it was one on one time. John cared about
issues of importance and would get very frustrated when
he couldn't make matters better. He was like many
of the great artists I worked with who had the odd ability
to be in the extreme corners of life, jumping back and forth
from altruism to self-centered madness without ever spending
much time in the middle. Gee, I wonder why he was
the one everyone was so fascinated with?
Ringo was the long-term guy. He's the one you would
meet the first day at school and just because you ended
up in the cloak room at the same time going for the same
coat hook, you became friends for the rest of your school
years and never really thought much about why. He
was the most natural, most accessible and the most down
to earth. I remember when I was in London it was his
house that I was invited out to for a holiday feast.
When we were in LA it was gatherings at our homes that were
of the norm. We shared a lot of our lives over the years
and it was usually the simple things that stand out when
I think back. He was the one I got to know best and
the easiest to describe. I never liked the fact that
he was relegated to the fourth man down on their totem pole
when it came to the band's pecking order. Besides
being the best absolute drummer they could have chosen,
he is an exceptional actor in my opinion. It is hard
to find someone sharper or funnier in head-to-head dialogue.
He brought "Starr" power to the band.
Q: I've always
seen Apple as a multi-media company that was 30 years ahead
of its time. Great concept, but somewhere the execution
went awry. What, in your opinion, went wrong?
understood Apple to be based on a "conglomerate" approach.
There were five divisions I believe. To my mind Ron
Kass (Apple's chief executive) was the consummate class
executive and knew how to think corporate. I remember
sitting in meetings with him when he would be negotiating
major deals for the Beatles and Apple and I felt like a
child watching a master. As I have said before the
two men I respected the most and learned the most from in
the entertainment business were he and Stanley Gortikov
who was president of Capitol during my time there.
The working structure felt more like Apple was a record
company with four subsidiaries because the record division
is where the energy and emphasis seemed to be.
You are right
that the concept was very innovative but there was one big
problem (among many others) and that was within the multi
media concept there were multi bosses ‚Äì four to be exact.
Each one had a position of legitimate and complete authority
and the four horses would not always pull the Apple cart
in the same direction. It was very hard for the day-to-day
underlings at the label to stay focused. Another problem
was in the altruistic approach to the world‚Äôs musical
youth and the fact that Apple was to have an open door policy
for aspiring artists. It became very hard separating the
legitimate artists from the loonies due to the masses that
descended on 3 Savile almost around the clock. As
I mentioned before there were five divisions so that means
four (Beatles) times five (divisions) equals twenty possible
complications -- right?
Q: I imagine
there was great pressure on The Beatles to make a spectacular
debut regarding the launch of Apple. Did you feel
the pressure and did you know you had the goods with "Hey
Jude" and "Revolution" and later, with The White Album?
the time of the Apple launch we felt that this was probably
one of the single most critical decisions we would be making
‚Äì the Beatles first single on the new label. "Hey
Jude" was an obvious masterpiece but there was great concern,
especially from McCartney that it could be rejected because
of its length. Those were the days (!) of tight play lists
and extreme competition between the top 40 (rock) stations
- the way to gain listeners was to play the most hits in
an hour. This created the two-and-a-half minute standard
for single record lengths. The stations would then
take it one step further and in many cases would actually
speed the records up very slightly in order to squeeze one
more record in during the hour and then the station could
make the claim that their station was the one to listen
to because they played the most hits. We sat on the
floor of the Apple building for what seemed like hours listening
to "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" over and over again trying
to decide which one should be the "A" side. It felt
like Paul was the head of A&R in this matter so I suggested
that the Beatles trust me with an advanced copy of the record
and I would fly back to the US from London and hopscotch
my way across the country back to LA, stopping off along
the way at major radio stations where I would get the opinions
of major music directors across the nation. It was
unanimous that "Hey Jude" was the hit no matter what its
length. I called Paul when I got back to LA to let
him know what I had found out and the rest is history.
Q: Brian Epstein,
The Beatles' manager, died as Apple was being set up.
If Brian had lived, what role do you think he would have
taken at Apple, if any?
have no idea. This is an area that I have very little
insight into because I only worked with Brian once and that
was briefly during the 1965 tour. If I had to guess
I believe he would have had less influence over their careers
but at the same time I felt they were fiercely loyal to
him and he would definitely have retained his title as manager.
Hard to project how that would have played out in the long
describe Apple in The White Book as a place teeming
with excitement on a daily basis. What made it such
a great place to work?
-- how about there was never a dull moment and you never
knew what the next moment was going to bring. The building
vibrated and the level of vibration depending on how many
Beatles were in there at one time and the nature of the
world‚Äôs most famous and infamous people that were haunting
the halls on any particular day. Hells Angels, Hare
Krishnas, famous movie stars -- you name it -- you never
knew. There was also this incredible buzz coming up
out of the basement recording studio with little records
like "Let It Be" being made.
were also in charge of Zapple Records, the experimental
arm of the record division. What was the expectation
of this susidiary?
was John's baby and I felt honored to be included in his
dream. If I had to guess, I don't think he cared if
the projects he was bringing on board this label sold 10
copies or 10 million. He mainly wanted them to be
made because he saw great intellectual and literary value
in them and felt they needed to be immortalized via recordings.
I mean a Richard Brautigan recital is not actually a Shea
Stadium concert event.
recording that didn't get distributed by Zapple was John
& Yoko's Two Virgins. Can you please tell
the story of how he approached you for this project?
cover this in detail in The White Book - the incident
that took place concerning me and that album cover was one
of my most confusing and scary moments in the music business.
The four Beatles, myself, Stan Gortikov, Mal Evans, Neil
Aspinall and Larry Delaney (Capitol's head of press and
relations) were in all day meetings in a hotel suite on
Hyde Park in London. We took a small break and Mal had taken
a room next to our suite and suggested I join him and Neil
there. I hadn't done much in the way of drugs in those
days and Mal handed me a filtered English cigarette that
had the tobacco dumped out and then mixed with some hash
and returned to the cigarette. I took a couple of
hits because I wanted them to think I was cool and we kicked
back for a while which made me late in returning to our
meeting. I went back to the suite and sat down on
the couch with John and Yoko. The minute I sat down
I realized how stoned I was and I became very paranoid because
across the room was the president of the company I worked
for staring at me. Here's where things got real squirrelly
-- John leaned over, pulled a bunch of pictures out of a
manila envelope and began slowly laying them on my lap one
by one. They were nude pictures of he and Yoko.
I thought he was suggesting something that I was very unprepared
to consider and my head started spinning and I started sweating.
After what seemed an eternity I looked up and saw Paul laughing
at me. While I was out of the room John had presented
his cover idea for the Two Virgins album to everyone,
in my absence, and when I returned to the meeting he was
simply bringing me up to speed. He neglected to give
me the reason for the pictures though! Paul realized
what was happening and decided to let me squirm for a while.
When he felt I was nearing panic stage he kindly explained
what the pictures were about.
Q: When the Beatles played the legendary rooftop concert
on top of Apple headquarters at 3 Saville Row, you were
one of the few people to watch it in person. What
are your recollections of that day?
John Lennon/Two Virgins incident was my most uncomfortable
event in my recording industry career and the day on the
roof watching the Beatles play together in concert for the
last time is by far my most exciting -- I like it that both
had to do with the Fab Four. The feeling the few of
us up there that cold January day experienced was something
magical. We all knew something special was going down but
it couldn‚Äôt be defined at that time. I saw the Beatles
from a few feet away being the band they started out to
be -- ironic that it was also the beginning of the end.
My description of that day on the roof is my favorite chapter
in the book.
a funny story in the book about your dealings with businessman
Allen Klein and how the pudgy and out of shape accountant
gave you all you could handle on the tennis court.
What was that all about?
make a long story in the book short, it had to do with Klein
trying to convince me to stay on with Apple and the Beatles
after he came aboard and forced Kass out. Kass landed
quickly at MGM and immediately made me a very lucrative
offer to join him there. I turned my resignation into
Apple and Capitol and Klein quickly called for a meeting
with me before my two weeks notice period was up.
My loyalties were to Kass but Klein was so persistent and
kept upping the ante to the point I was having a hard time
turning him down. His offer was so great it was almost
an insult to not give it great consideration. In our conversations,
during the small talk portions, we had discussed our love
for tennis. I was playing regularly and at a fairly
high level at that time so I nonchalantly challenged him
to a tennis match -- one set -- if he wins I join him and
if I win he leaves me alone. He looked like he was
not in very good shape and I assumed he would not even consider
the idea and I also assumed it would be a slam dunk for
me if he did - and there would be a bonus, let's say a little
getting even for my pal Kass. The one thing I didn't
take into consideration was that the match in his mind was
not a sporting event but a negotiation and Klein was not
known for coming out on the short end of important business
encounters. What took place was the tennis match from
hell. You have to read the book to get the final
still retained a relationship with all four Beatles when
Apple went south. Tell me about your last encounters
with John, Paul, George and Ringo.
We chatted outside in the parking lot after a Grammy awards
show on March 1, 1975 and made plans to get together the
next day while he was in LA. He gave me a private
number and told me when to call. My call was intercepted
by a young assistant who decided I was another bothersome
fan and would neither put me through or take a message for
Paul. (He passed a hello on to me a couple years ago
during a book signing when the person getting the autograph
told him they knew me but that was it).
GEORGE: We spent a lot of time together after Apple -
our wives had also become friends and he and Pattie were
spending a lot of time in LA. But the last time I
talked to him was after he and Olivia were together and
we ran into each other in a narrow alley that separates
Dan Tana's restaurant and the Troubador nightclub in Hollywood.
We hadn't seen each other in a while and we had a mini-reunion
in a dark alley. It was very pleasant and normal,
just like running into an old high school classmate.
RINGO: Our relationship
continued on for many years as he lived a great deal of
the time in LA and there was a small group of us old friends
who hung out together. I even represented him in his
record deal with Private Music/BMG in the early '90s.
The last time we saw each other was in Santa Rosa CA when
he was on tour with his All Starr Band. It had been
a while since we had seen each other or hung out and it
was oddly strange when we got together after such a long
break. We had gone in different directions with our
lives and it was honestly a bit awkward. Not that we weren't
friends but it was simply keeping a relevant conversation
going. We had our history together but after the hellos
and "how's Barbara" etc were done we struggled to find things
to talk about.
JOHN: It was
an unusual last meeting with John. It was during the
crazy years when he and Harry Nilsson were hanging out when
Yoko had sent him off on his own for a while. I was
producing Waylon Jennings at the time and Ringo had asked
me to come over and play the finished master on the Are
You Ready for the Country album I had just finished
for RCA Records. When I walked into the living room
at Ringo's house John was sitting on the couch and he was
in an obvious bad mood. He had just shown up out of
the blue and wanted to be alone with Ringo. Ringo
asked me to put the tape on anyway - John became more anxious
as the music played on wishing the album would end and I
sensed for me to go away. The day had an interesting
ending (in the book) but I wish it could have been a more
pleasant last time with John Lennon.
to you, Apple was going to reform again in 1986 with Ron
Kass at the helm and all the original players coming back
to their original positions. What happened?
the summer of 1986 very unexpectedly, I received a call
from Ron Kass. I was in my Main Mansfield Associates
office on Nashville's Music Row. It was so good to
hear from Ron as it had been a while. I knew he was
in LA producing films as well as other music industry ventures
but when I moved to Nashville we had drifted apart.
After catching up on old times he told me why he was calling.
He had just returned from London and had had some preliminary
meetings with a couple of the Beatles and Neil Aspinall.
The discussions concerned starting up Apple again.
There were two caveats: a) the Beatles would not be putting
up the money this time so it would have to be funded by
someone else and b) it would not be the typical restart
of an old company because the feeling was that the company
was more than a name -- that it was most of all a special
group of people -- therefore the only way it would be done
is if it was staffed by the original gang. He wanted
to know if I was in -- would I return as the US Manager
of the company? I said yes of course and it took us
about ten minutes to get a $10 million dollar start up backing
commitment from one person. We flew to London within
weeks and began having meetings with Neil Aspinall, Tony
Bramwell, myself and the investor. Gotta read the book to
see how this didn't turn out.
same year you had a run-in with Julian Lennon, John's first
son, who was on the concert circuit. What did you tell him
about his father and what was his reaction?
ran into Julian at the Starwood amphitheater in Nashville
where he was headlining. He didn't know who I was
when I ran into him backstage but he stopped in his tracks
when I said I knew his father and had worked with him.
I could tell he wanted to know more about his dad and he
knew I had spent time with John during a particular phase
that maybe wasn't real clear to him. I can't remember
the details of the conversation but the gist had to do more
with the day to day times at Apple and what his dad was
like and into at that time. It was a gentle meeting
and I left feeling very moved. It was a bit freaky
because I kept having this feeling I was talking to a young
John of old.
Lennon and George Harrison are no longer with us.
Where were you when both passed away and how do you feel
about them today?
was sitting on the floor of my new Hometown Productions
Inc. offices in Hollywood deciding which pictures of my
Beatle/Apple days I was going to put on the walls when I
got a call from rocker Nick Gilder ("Hot Child in the City")
telling me that John had just been shot. I hung up
the phone and looked at a picture of John in my hand staring
up at me. He had written me a note that accompanied
the picture. I wept. That picture and note are
in the book. Ironically, the morning I found out George
had just died of cancer I was in the doctor‚Äôs (oncologist)
office being given bad news about the status of my own incurable
cancer. Fox News was calling every five minutes trying
to get me to drive to San Francisco for a live feed interview
with different anchors. Out of respect for our long
friendship I finally agreed to set my emotions aside and
allowed them to send a car for me. I spent the day
appearing on three or four different Fox shows and completed
the day with a CBS interview reflecting on my impressions
of George. It did take my mind off my situation and
I felt as if I had helped him say goodbye.
the main thing you want to convey about your life
and The White Book?
were only a few people who were actually there during certain
times when the Beatle phenomenon was happening and I had
a special place because I was the guy who may have come
the furthest to join in the fray. They treated me
special and I became a part of the musical bridge that eventually
connected the UK and the US. The book is not only
about the Beatles but it is about an era. I had history
with the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, David
Cassidy, Andy Williams, etc. and became a part of the conduit
that brought many of these historical entertainers together.
It was a special time in the music industry -- a time that
will never be repeated. My book is a kind book about
incredible people. That's how I saw it then and that's
how I will always remember it.
Ken Mansfield and Ringo Starr
chatting at the Apple offices. That's Jackie Lomax's promo
picture on the wall.
Visit the official website for
The White Book: The Beatles, the
Bands, the Biz: An Insider's Look at an Era,
Marshall Terrill is the author
of 12 books. His latest book is Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business,
co-written with Elvis' former bodyguard, Sonny West. Other
recent efforts include Maravich,
(Sport Classic Books, $24.95) a biography of basketball
player Pete Maravich, and Steve McQueen:
The Last Mile, a coffee table book co-authored
with Barbara McQueen (Dalton Watson Fine Books, $95.00).