Who was The Fifth Beatle? We look at the Top 10 contenders including Brian Epstein and George Martin #BeatlesWeek

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FB_cover1With the movie, The Fifth Beatle, based on the life of Brian Epstein, set for release later this year we look at the Top 10 contenders for the coveted title. 

1. Brian Epstein (1934 – 1967)
If anyone has a claim to the Fifth Beatle tag it is probably Epstein. The Beatles’ first manager and music Entrepreneur/Svengali, he was unwavering in his support for The Fab Four ever since he first saw them at The Cavern Club. Was he in love with John Lennon? Did anything happen between them on holiday together in Spain? Possibly. But one’s thing for sure, his death from a drugs overdose in 1967 marked the beginning of the end for the band.

George-Martin2.  George Martin (1926-)
Though now considered to be one of the greatest record producers of all time, Martin was working mostly on comedy songs with the likes of Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers when he met The Beatles in 1962. Although he didn’t initially like their music, he was drawn to the band because of their wit. He later went on to produce nearly all of their recordings apart from Let It Be. A trained musician from the Guildhall School of Music, Martin wrote the instrumental score for Yellow Submarine as well as string and horn arrangements for most of their songs.

Pete Best
3. Pete Best (1941-)
Poor old Pete Best (second from right above). The Beatles’ first drummer before Ringo Starr joined the line up, he was sacked by manager Brian Epstein in 1962 because of concerns his alleged lack of rhythm would cause problems when it came to recording the early tracks. Widely regarded as the best looking in the band at the time, he was an influential  figure during the two years he was with The Beatles, particularly playing live in Hamburg.

Neil Aspinall
4. Neil Aspinall (1941-2008)
Like Mal Evans (see below), Neil started off as a roadie taking the band to gigs in his beaten up, graffitied Commer van. A schoolboy friend of Paul and George, who fathered a child to Pete Best’s Mum 17 years his senior, he later founded Apple Corps, trademarking the name Apple worldwide. Though Apple Corps won a huge legal case against the computer company for trademark infringement in 1991 they later lost when they took Apple to court for the introduction of iTunes. Aspinall died of lung cancer in 2008.


5. Stuart Sutcliffe (1940-1962)
One of John’s art school friends, Stuart really was a fifth Beatle playing bass alongside the other four with McCartney playing electric guitar. However, on one of their trips to Hamburg, Sutcliffe decided to stay in Germany and go to art school where his real talents lay. George Harrison on Stu’s bass playing: “It was a bit ropey, but it didn’t matter at that time because he looked so cool.” Sadly he died in 1962 of a brain haemorrhage.


klaus voorman
6. Klaus Voormann (1938-)
Klaus played bass with The Beatles in Hamburg after Stu Sutcliffe left the group in 1962 and after The Beatles breakup he played on every solo album recorded by Lennon, Harrison and Starr. In the 1970s he was even rumoured to be joining a re-formed Beatles band called The Ladders, replacing McCartney on bass.  A well respected artist, he also designed the famous Revolver album.

7. Derek Taylor (1932 – 1997)
The Beatles’ PR guy, Taylor was a journalist for The Daily Express when he was hired by Beatles Manager Brian Epstein to handle the band’s publicity. Famous for being name checked on John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance, Taylor had a major role in Apple Records and was still working for Apple when he died of cancer in 1997.


with george and pattie8. Mal Evans (1935-1976)
Nicknamed “The Gentle Giant’ because of his 6ft 6in frame, Evans (pictured here with George and Pattie Boyd) was the Beatles’ roadie, bodyguard and personal assistant throughout the 60s and was probably closer to the band than anyone. He performed all types of errands and chores, from buying new socks for Paul to getting Ringo to a doctor in India. He even contributed to a few songs, including the chorus of Yellow Submarine and the alarm clock in “A Day in the Life.” He also appeared in several Beatles films. He was shot dead by the police in 1976 in a drunken altercation.

9. Billy Preston (1946-2006)
Famously, the only artist to receive a joint credit on a Beatles single (Get Back), Preston was first introduced to the band in the early 1960s. However, it was only in 1969 – at the invitation of George Harrison – that he got to work with them during the Let It Be sessions, partly as a way of diffusing tensions behind band members. Lennon himself once suggested that Preston join The Beatles, even using the term “Fifth Beatle”, but the idea wasn’t popular with the others.


Jimmie Nicol
10. Jimmie Nicol (1939-)
A professional drummer who had played on Beatles cover version albums, Jimmie Nicol found himself thrust into the limelight at the height of Beatlemania when Ringo Starr was hospitalised with tonsillitis on the eve of the Australasian tour. Though not popular with George, who nearly pulled out of the tour as a result of his arrival, he helped the band out and enjoyed the attention from the fans – albeit briefly. When asked how he was coping he always said ‘it’s getting better’ which later inspired Paul’s Sgt. Pepper track.


And 5 others who have also been called The Fifth Beatle….

  • Yoko Ono – Lennon’s wife sat in on many later recording sessions
  • Eric Clapton – played on While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
  • George Best – Called the Fifth Beatle by the Portuguese press because of his mop top hair cut after scoring twice for Man United v Benfica in 1965.
  • Jeff Lynne – produced the “new” Beatles singles in 1994 and 1995 for theAnthology records.
  • Tony Sheridan – An early collaborator with The Beatles in Hamburg, Sheridan would often perform with them on stage despite being the headline act.