Home Books Those Were the Days 2.0: The Beatles and Apple: by Stefan Granados

Those Were the Days 2.0: The Beatles and Apple: by Stefan Granados

The Apple company (not to be confused with the computer company who would go on to take over the world in the 21st century) and corresponding sub-brands were born out of the idealistic spirit of the late-‘60s, one in which seemingly any artistic whim was possible to pursue at length, particularly if bankrolled by the biggest band in the world. The trouble with idealism in any form is that it tends to be short on any sort of business sense and, being the music BUSINESS, some semblance of business acumen is required to run a successful company. In other words, even the most successful, influential pop group of all time could not succeed on idealism alone.

Such is the basic premise of Stefan Granados’ revised edition of the previously-issued Those Were the Days: The Unauthorized History of the Beatles’ Apple Organization 1967-2002, updated with new content and republished under the somewhat unimaginative title Those Were the Days 2.0: The Beatles and Apple. Those looking for an in-depth look at the innerworkings of an independent record label in the late-‘60s will find much to love in Granados’ exhaustively thorough deep-dive into the Apple label and myriad business offshoots. What’s perhaps most fascinating for those only familiar with Apple as a record label is the sheer number of ventures proposed under the Apple moniker.

Prior to the release of any music by the Beatles or their handful of handpicked (and largely forgotten) signees, there was an Apple boutique, specializing in high-end, tailor-made clothing, that lasted only a few months in 1968 prior to the whole idea being abandoned and the remaining merchandise simply given away. While all of this was going on, those within the Beatles organization were jockeying for a position of control over the business end of things following the late-1967 death of their longtime manager, Brian Epstein. As has been noted elsewhere and is elaborated upon herein, Epstein’s death largely signaled the beginning of the end of the Beatles. The vacuum that developed following his death saw the entrance of the Eastmans and, more notoriously, Allen Klein, into the Beatles’ sphere. This led to in-fighting over the handling of the business and a general derailing of any future successes.

But that was all still several years away as the Apple idea began to take hold and come to ― pardon the pun ― fruition. As is to be expected for a business venture started by a musical group, the music end of things ended up being the longest-lasting and most significant aspect of the company. The electronics department overseen by Yannis Alexis “Magic Alex” Mardas, while interesting in theory, proved a nonstarter and was overwhelmed by its own idealism. So, too, were Apple Films, a proposed book publishing division and assorted public works programs designed to bolster the arts. In other words, the idea behind Apple was to throw as many things at the wall as possible and see what stuck. Music, it turned out, was pretty much the only thing that did so.

Fittingly, the book takes its title from the venture’s first and one of its largest successes, the release of Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days.” Its initial success seemed to herald a bright future, but would ultimately be one of the only non-Beatles triumphs. Along the way, artists like Jackie Lomax, Doris Troy, Grapefruit, Focal Point, the Iveys (later Badfinger) and a handful of other also-rans saw their association with the biggest pop group in the world as a liability more than an asset or means to any sort of future riches and record sales. Ultimately, Those Were the Days reads as more of a business-heavy cautionary tale of just how unrealistic a business founded on the principles of idealism can be. Because of this, much of the book can be a bit of a slog, and Granados’ heavy attention to detail and finances will cause the eyes of those there simply for the music to glaze over. That said, it’s an incredibly comprehensive look at one of the hundreds of subsets of Beatles’ history, one bolstered by a series of new interviews and insight in the 20 years since it was originally published.

Summary
An incredibly comprehensive look at one of the hundreds of subsets of Beatles’ history, one bolstered by a series of new interviews and insight in the 20 years since it was originally published.
68 %
Apple, core and all

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