There are many contenders for the coveted title of "Fifth Beatle." Some qualify due to their brief yet influential period as a fifth musical component of the Beatles' early career. Candidates include Stu Sutcliffe (bass) and Pete Best (drums) and to a lesser degree Chas Newby, who temporarily replaced Sutcliffe on bass, and who declined John Lennon’s request to join the group permanently in Hamburg in favour of returning to University.
Others qualify due to their business relationship with the group, Brian Epstein, Neil Aspinall spring to mind. Then you have production candidates: Geoff Emerick, Norman Smith and of course Fifth Beatle extraordinaire, George Martin. There is one candidate however who fits almost all criteria as Fifth Beatle, and who spent more time with the group than possibly anyone else in his short professional career. Road manager, bouncer, minder, nursemaid, travelling companion, loyal friend, session musician, talent scout, producer and general dogsbody: step forward, Mr. Fixit, otherwise known as Mal Evans.
Born in 1935, Malcolm Evans was already married with a young family, a mortgage and a steady job as a communications engineer with the Post Office when he stumbled into a lunchtime Beatles session in 1962, altering his fate forever. After quickly befriending the group, George Harrison recommended Evans to Cavern owner Ray McFall as a bouncer at the chaotic underground entrance of the busy Liverpool music venue. This was a job that fit naturally with his calm demeanour and intimidating 6’6” hulking frame. In August 1962, just before Ringo Starr replaced Best and the group’s career began to take off, Evans was hired by Brian Epstein to assist Aspinall in roadie duties. He soon became the default van driver, the man who patiently set up the group’s backline equipment, tested it, stood by prepared for all disasters, and packed the van up again after the show had ended.
As Beatlemania emerged, Evans fulfilled a pivotal role beyond stage duties by serving as the royal guard, protecting the group from hordes of fans while also performing the discreet role of minister of selection for female companionship. In other words, Evans would be sent out from hotel rooms to find suitable groupies to party with the boys. Evans has the unique distinction of being present at every Beatles concert from the time he started working with them. From the ballrooms and clubs of early 1960s Britain to the baseball stadiums and orchestral bowls of the world’s finest cities, if there was a fly on the wall, it was Mal Evans.