Former Apple Records Exec Ken Mansfield Reflects on His Front Row Seat to the Beatles’ Final Years | Billboard

After the break-up heard ’round the world and the inevitable gossip that followed, Mansfield shifted his attention to other projects and took jobs at MGM and CBS Records, later becoming a prolific producer for acts ranging from Waylon Jennings to Willie Nelson. In his post-Beatles career, he was astute enough to know he was a part of something wildly unique and virtually unrepeatable. “They were different than any other artist, so it was an experience I never tried to recreate. I figured that was that and nothing else will ever be like it again.” In the intervening years, Mansfield kept in touch with all four members, whether working on an album deal with Starr or hobnobbing with Harrison when he was in Los Angeles. The last time Mansfield saw Lennon was at Starr’s house. “I was producing Waylon Jennings at the time and Ringo was a big country fan, so he called me and said he heard I just got back from working on Waylon’s new album in Nashville and wanted to know if he could listen to the tapes.” Mansfield happily obliged. “I show up to Ringo’s house and John’s sitting there on the couch. This was during his lost years. It was a strange day. John had dropped by to talk to Ringo about something personal and he couldn’t wait for us to get done with our stuff so they could talk.”

Despite his close association with one of the most important acts in the history of modern music, Mansfield rarely spoke about his time with the lads from Liverpool until relatively recently. Throughout the past 15 years, he’s collected his thoughts in three books about the group, the latest being The Roof: The Beatles’ Final Concert (out Nov. 13 from Post Hill Press). It documents the group’s final years and that fateful afternoon on the roof. “A lot of us who were there never talked about the Beatles much until decades later,” he notes. “They never said to us to keep the things we saw to ourselves. But the thing about all of us is that it was such a privilege to have been there that we had to honor them by keeping things to ourselves and not talking about everything.” Underlying his experience was a mutual respect. “There was something about them that the minute you were in their inner circle they treated you like a friend. I never got the impression of, ‘I’m a Beatle and you aren’t.’ You were part of the team and every day something phenomenal happened.”

It was a monumental chunk of an impressive career Mansfield didn’t fully grasp the weight of until decades later. “I didn’t realize the importance of it until after about 20 years,” he says. “Before then, it was part of my life and job. Then it sunk in that I got to experience that and live with it. I was a part of something I’ll treasure forever.”

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