A is for Apple

 
 

The Beatles‘ accountants had informed the group that they had two million pounds which they could either invest in a business venture or else lose to the Inland Revenue, because corporate/business taxes were lower than their individual tax bills. According to Peter Brown, personal assistant to Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, activities to find tax shelters for the income that the Beatles generated began as early as 1963–64, when Dr Walter Strach was put in charge of such operations. First steps into that direction were the foundation of Beatles Ltd and, in early 1967, Beatles and Co.

The Beatles’ publicist, Derek Taylor, remembered that Paul McCartney had the name for the new company when he visited Taylor’s company flat in London: “We’re starting a brand new form of business. So, what is the first thing that a child is taught when he begins to grow up? A is for Apple”. McCartney then suggested the addition of Apple Core, but they could not register the name, so they used “Corps” (having the same pronunciation).

The Belgian Beatles Society page says that in an interview with Johan Ral in 1993, Paul McCartney recalled:

“….I had this friend called Robert Fraser, who was a gallery owner in London. We used to hang out a lot. And I told him I really loved Magritte. We were discovering Magritte in the sixties, just through magazines and things. And we just loved his sense of humour. And when we heard that he was a very ordinary bloke who used to paint from nine to one o’clock, and with his bowler hat, it became even more intriguing. Robert used to look around for pictures for me, because he knew I liked him. It was so cheap then, it’s terrible to think how cheap they were. But anyway, we just loved him … One day he brought this painting to my house. We were out in the garden, it was a summer’s day. And he didn’t want to disturb us, I think we were filming or something. So he left this picture of Magritte. It was an apple – and he just left it on the dining room table and he went. It just had written across it “Au revoir”, on this beautiful green apple. And I thought that was like a great thing to do. He knew I’d love it and he knew I’d want it and I’d pay him later. […] So it was like wow! What a great conceptual thing to do, you know. And this big green apple, which I still have now, became the inspiration for the logo. And then we decided to cut it in half for the B-side!”

 
 

Le Jeu de la Mourre, René Magritte, 1966

 
 

Taking Magritte for inspiration, the Apple record labels were designed by a fellow named Gene Mahon, an advertising agency designer. The Beatles Collection website has a great summary of how this all came about:

“[It was Gene Mahon who] proposed having different labels on each side of the record. One side would feature a full apple that would serve as a pure symbol on its own without any text. All label copy would be printed on the other side’s label, which would be the image of a sliced apple. The white-colored inside surface of the sliced apple provided a good background for printing information.
The idea of having no print on the full apple side was abandoned when EMI advised Apple that the contents of the record should appear on both sides of the disc for copyright and publishing reasons. Although Mahon’s concept was rejected for legal (and perhaps marketing) reasons, his idea of using different images for each side of the record remained. Mahon hired Paul Castell to shoot pictures of green, red and yellow apples, both full and sliced. The proofs were reviewed by the Beatles and Neil Aspinall, with the group selecting a big green Granny Smith apple to serve as the company’s logo. A sliced green apple was picked for B side. Alan Aldridge provided the green script perimeter print for labels [on UK, EU and Australian releases – this does not appear on US labels] and, in all likelihood, the script designation on the custom record sleeve.”

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They Shall Be One Flesh

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.

22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from a man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis, Chapter 2

The Bible

 
 

“Saying whatever you want it to say. It is just us expressing ourselves like a child does, you know, however he feels like then. What we’re saying is make your own music. This is Unfinished Music.”
John Lennon

 
 

The bottom of the front cover has a quote from Paul McCartney – When two great Saints meet it is a humbling experience. The long battles to prove he was a Saint. On the bottom of the back cover it reads “May 1968. Made in Merrie England.”

 
 

Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins is an album released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in November 1968, on Apple. Following Lennon’s wife, Cynthia Lennon, going on holiday, it was the result of an all-night session of musical experimentation in Lennon’s home studio at Kenwood. Lennon and Ono’s debut album is known not only for its avant garde content, but also for its cover. The album cover features Lennon and Ono naked, which made the album become controversial – to both the public and the record company, EMI, who refused to distribute it. To calm down the controversy, the album was sold in a brown paper bag, and distributed by Track and Tetragrammaton, in the UK and US, respectively. The album, while failing to the chart in the UK, reached number 124 in the US. The album was followed by Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions.

 
 

Original photo

 
 

Lennon and Ono used a time-delay camera, which was set up by Tony Bramwell, to take nude photographs of themselves for the album’s cover, which were taken at 34 Montagu Square, in Marylebone (London), the location of a flat leased out by Ringo Starr. in early October 1968. Lennon explained that they “were both a bit embarrassed when we peeled off for the picture, so I took it myself with a delayed action shutter.” The front cover showed them frontally nude including Lennon’s penis and Ono’s breasts and pudendal cleft, and both Lennon’s and Ono’s natural pubic hair, while the rear cover showed them nude from behind including their buttocks. Lennon’s idea was to have the nude shot for the front album cover. Neil Aspinall said that Lennon gave the roll of film to an Apple employee, known as Jeremy, with instructions that the pictures were to be developed. Jeremy said that the pictures were “mind-blowing”, Aspinall, however, said that “Everything was always “mind-blowing” to Jeremy” then going on to say: “but – just that one time – he was actually right. He couldn’t believe it.”

 
 

 
 

The cover provoked an outrage, prompting distributors to sell the album in a plain brown wrapper, covering the nude front cover. Quotes from Genesis Chapter 2 were placed on the back of the brown bag, which were chosen by Derek Taylor. The album’s title came from the couple’s feeling that they were “two innocents, lost in a world gone mad”, and because after making the recording, the two consummated their relationship. Lennon had said that the album cover “just seemed natural for us. We’re all naked really.” Ono saw the cover as a significant declaration: “I was in the artistic community, where a painter did a thing about rolling a naked woman with blue paint on her body on a canvas; […] that was going on at the time. The only difference was that we were going to stand together, which I thought was very interesting […] it was just standing straight. I liked that concept.” Copies of the album were impounded as obscene in several jurisdictions (including 30,000 copies in New Jersey in January 1969). Lennon commented that the uproar seemed to have less to do with the explicit nudity, and more to do with the fact that the pair were rather unattractive (and the photo unflattering; Lennon described it later as a picture of “two slightly overweight ex-junkies”).