Mal (Malcom) Evans
One of a small handful of people who could realistically claim to be the fifth Beatle
Mal (Malcom) Evans was the road manager of The Beatles from the summer of 1963 until their breakup in 1970. Along with Neil Aspinall, Brian Epstein, and Sir George Martin, he formed an integral part of the inner circle of the Beatles during their years as a band. Mal was a very large man with thick-framed glasses; you can see him in many videos of the Beatles over the years, most notably on Let it Be, where he is setting up equipment in many scenes and plays the anvil while Paul practices a tune that would become Maxwell's Silver Hammer.
Mal Evans was twenty six years old and working a normal everyday job as a communications technician for the Post Office in Liverpool, England in 1962. On lunch break, he wandered into the Cavern Club, a music club popular with the Liverpool youth at the time. When he walked into the club, the Beatles were just taking the stage. Having just signed a record contract with EMI, The Beatles played an energetic lunchtime show, and Mal was absolutely hooked.
After that show, Mal started frequenting the Cavern Club and following The Beatles closely. After a while, he befriended George Harrison, who then recommended him as a bouncer to the club's manager. The Cavern Club's manager Ray McFall immediately hired Mal, mostly as a favor to George since the club was making money left and right off of The Beatles.
After three months as bouncer, in mid-1962, the Beatles were screaming up the charts for the first time and the Beatles were being pulled in several directions at once. The group's roadie, Neil Aspinall, watched one evening as Mal quickly settled a brawl between several drunk and angry Cavern Club denizens and decided on the spot that Mal would make a good road manager for the group. After running the idea by the band and Brian Epstein, the group decided to hire Mal as their road manager.
Mal's job with the Beatles during their touring years was simple. He was responsible for making sure that their equipment made it from location to location, was set up properly (particularly Ringo Starr's drum kit, which the entire band was meticulous about), and was then packed up properly for the next stop. On road trips, especially during the first year or so before the Beatles fame made such things nearly impossible, Mal was the driver of their touring van.
Beyond that, Mal was the "sound check" guy, who would come out before the shows and test the microphones and instruments before showtime. Often, he would pretend to be one of the Beatles for purposes of entertaining the crowd. Sometimes this responsibility was split with Neil Aspinall, but usually Mal handled the sound checks, while Neil attended to the Beatles' needs in their dressing rooms.
Mal was also involved in the shady practice (along with Neil) of forging the signatures of the Beatles on their publicity photos; this was often an evening task as the group lounged around the hotel.
But most importantly, Mal became a friend of the group and a tight part of their inner circle; he was at least in part trapped in their bubble of fame. In fact, the character of Norm in the film A Hard Day's Night is said to be based on Mal, and Mal himself appears in Help!, where he plays the swimmer who repeatedly asks for directions to the White Cliffs of Dover; he appears in both Magical Mystery Tour and Let It Be as himself.
In 1966, Paul McCartney invited Mal along on vacation with him, and the two of them toured Africa on a safari. On this trip, Paul basically guaranteed Mal a job for as long as the Beatles were around, even though at that point the group had decided to no longer tour. Paul and Mal became close friends, and Mal was the only member of the inner circle of the group to attend the wedding of Paul and Linda McCartney in 1969.
In the Beatles' studio era, Mal became something of a studio hand, helping out with setting up equipment and occasionally with the instrumentation. In addition to contributing lyrics to the song Fixing A Hole (which is arguably about Mal), Mal appears on the following Beatles songs:
You Won't See Me: Mal plays the Hammond organ
Yellow Submarine: Mal provides backing vocals
A Day In The Life: Mal's voice is the one counting off the measures during the breaks; you can hear this on some versions of the track much better than others; he was also one of the four piano players to hit the note that closes the song
Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite: Mal plays some of the harmonica
Dear Prudence: Mal plays the tambourine
Helter Skelter: Mal plays the trumpet
You Know My Name (Look Up The Number): Mal provides backing vocals
Maxwell's Silver Hammer: Mal plays the anvil
Beyond this, Mal Evans made a major contribution to Apple Records in 1968. While visiting a small club in London, Mal heard a group called the Iveys, who filled him with much the same excitement as the Beatles did at the Cavern Club. Mal arranged for a tryout at Apple Records and the fledgling band was accepted almost immediately. The band later changed their name to Badfinger and scored major hits with the songs Come and Get It and No Matter What.
Mal was also part of the group of Beatles and their friends that went to India to study transcendental meditation in early 1968.
Sadly, all things must pass, and after the Beatles broke up, Mal moved to Los Angeles, California and went through several bouts with depression. After locking himself in his bedroom with an air pistol on January 5, 1976, Mal died tragically at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department after officers burst in and saw him holding the air pistol. He was thirty nine years old.