Sir Paul flew to the States to see Neil (left) towards the end of his battle with cancer. The Beatles' former driver, long-time confidante and financial guru passed away this week
Photo: Rex
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Pictured with the Fab Four in their heyday, Neil (top right) was a school friend of Paul and the late George Harrison. He eventually took over the band's hugely successful record label, proving himself an astute businessman
Photo: Getty

Paul 'heartbroken' after his Beatle beancounter pal passes away

25 MARCH 2008
Grief-stricken Paul McCartney was devastated this week after his childhood friend, the man dubbed the "fifth Beatle" died in hospital after losing a battle with cancer.

Paul had flown to New York on Sunday to say a tearful farewell to Neil Aspinall, the Liverpool lad who started out as The Beatles' van driver and ended up their financial guru. "He is completely heartbroken - he was always very close to Neil," says a close friend."

Neil, Paul and the late George Harrison went to school together at the Liverpool Institute For Boys. He became the band's minder, personal fixer, driver, and even sang backing on Yellow Submarine and played percussion on Magical Mystery Tour.

In 1968, Neil became manager of the group's hugely successful music label Apple Corps. His business acumen helped them amass huge fortunes, even after the band split up in 1970.

The 65-year-old had travelled from his London home to New York to receive treatment after falling ill. His wife Suzy and their five children were at his beside when he passed away.

Paul, Ringo Starr and Beatle widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison paid tribute to Neil in a joint statement. "As a loyal friend and confidant, Neil's trusting stewardship and guidance has left a far-reaching legacy," they said. "All his friends and loved-ones will miss him - but will always retain the fondest memories of a great man."