Though it took until 2007 for Apple Corps, the Beatles label and Apple Inc. formerly Apple Computer to settle litigations that went all the way back to 1978, it doesn't diminish the fact that Steve Job's had a lifelong fascination with the band.
It is only fitting that with the 30th anniversary of the release of the first Macintosh Computer this week, we examine the influence the group had on one of Apple's founders and the greatest innovator of his generation.
We hear a lot today about disruption and innovation. Those words were not used in the same way in the 1960's but the same principles apply to what the Beatles accomplished. They didn't stand still, they pushed themselves and pulled all of us with them. They changed music by synthesizing a range of musical styles that included both old and new. Their ceaseless demand for new sounds drove recording innovations with each successive record. With "Norwegian Wood", they introduced the Sitar to western audiences and a combination of styles that would become known as "world music". Their embrace of the Maharishi and Transcendental Meditation, began a new age and interest in world religions and eastern spirituality.
The Beatles founded their own Apple in 1968. Their goal was to provide a creative outlet for artists in multiple fields. In addition to releasing their own music, the label's first release included jazz from the Modern Jazz Quartet and two pieces by an up-and-coming classical composer named John Taverner. Apple released spoken word albums, electronic and avant gard music albums under it's Zapple imprint. Apple also had a film division, as well as publishing, and retail. Though it was an ambitious project that ultimately wouldn't survive the break-up of the band just two years later, it speaks to a vision of the future the four shared.
The Beatles didn't originate all of these things, but they exploited the possibilities of music, technology and communication through their access to a world wide audience.
To quote Steve Jobs from Walter Isaacson's bio:
“You always have to keep pushing to innovate. Dylan could have sung protest songs forever and probably made a lot of money, but he didn’t. He had to move on, and when he did by going electric in 1965, he alienated a lot of people. The Beatles were the same way. They kept evolving, moving, refining their act. That’s what I’ve tried to do — keep moving. Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.”
Read about the night Steve Jobs met Andy Warhol at Sean Lennon’s birthday party: http://davidsheff.com/article/the-night-steve-jobs-met-andy-warhol/