The Quick 10: 10 "Fifth Beatles"

09.09.09: It's Beatlemania all over again. At least, it is at my house. And to some degree, here on the _floss "“ we've covered Nine Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Beatles and Nine Women Who Inspired Beatles Songs. And now we bring you 10 people who have some sort of claim to the "Fifth Beatle" nickname. Lots of musicians and friends of the band have been unofficially bestowed the honor over the years "“ here are just a few of them.

stuart1. Stuart Sutcliffe. Poor, tragic Stu. He was the Beatles' original bassist (John Lennon's best friend) back in the very early days when they were going by The Silver Beetles. He wasn't a great bass player "“ his real talent was painting "“ and left the group of his own volition in 1961, and tragically died of an intracranial brain hemorrhage on April 10, 1962, at the very young age of 21. The Beatles paid homage to him by including their first bass player on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And if you're interested in Sutcliffe and his early role with the Beatles, check out Backbeat, a movie starring Stephen Dorff as Sutcliffe. Paul didn't care for the movie, for the record.

best2. Pete Best is probably the man who is most often referred to as the Fifth Beatle. He was the pre-Ringo drummer and was chosen in part because of his drumming skills, sure, but also because he had quite the female following, which Paul McCartney felt would help the group. There have been different stories over the years as to why Best was replaced. George Martin has said that he preferred a stronger drummer to give the rest of the band a good base, and various other members of the extended Beatle family have said that Best just didn't mesh well with the rest of the band on a personal level and refused to conform to the band style. Either way, manager Brian Epstein gave Best the boot, much to the chagrin of female fans who adored the brooding Best. They showed up at concerts chanting "Pete Forever, Ringo Never" and heckled the band throughout their sets.

Epstein013. Speaking of Brian Epstein, Paul McCartney once said that if anyone held claim to the Fifth Beatle title, it was Brian, and George Martin concurred. Epstein was the Beatles' manager form 1961 until he died in 1967 and was pretty key in the band's stratospheric rise. He was the glue that held the Beatles together and when he passed away after an accidental drug overdose, John Lennon knew the Fab Four were finished. In a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon commented, "I knew that we were in trouble then... I thought, "˜We've [expletive] had it now.'"

aspinall4. And 5. Derek Taylor and Neil Aspinall. These nominations for Fifth Beatle came from George Harrison. Derek Taylor was a journalist who gave the Beatles one of their first rave reviews. As a result, he became entrenched in the scene and eventually started writing press releases for the Liverpudlians. When Apple Corps was formed, he was named press officer. Similarly, Aspinall (pictured) started out as a mere road manager with the band, then rose to personal assistant and finally Apple Corps CEO. You can also hear him on a few recordings "“ he played harmonica on "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and sang in the chorus of "Yellow Submarine."

martin6. George Martin, who produced a vast majority of the Beatles' recordings, is another member of the Beatles posse who often gets tagged with the Fifth Beatle moniker. But not only did he produce most of their music, he also arranged strings and horns for most of their songs that called for them and wrote the entire instrumental part of the Yellow Submarine album. He also played keys on a couple of songs, including the Baroque-inspired piece in "In My Life."

JIMMY7. It's the night before the Beatles' Australasian leg of their 1964 tour is supposed to kick off, and Ringo abruptly comes down with acute tonsillitis. What do you do? You call in Jimmy Nicol. Jimmy had drummed on a cover album of Beatles hits and knew all of the songs, so he was a natural fit for the group. He actually wore Ringo's clothes on stage.

clapton8. Eric Clapton contributed his considerable talents on the guitar to "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," but the reason he is occasionally referred to as the Fifth Beatle is because of his close friendships with all of the band members, especially George Harrison. In fact, Clapton and Harrison even shared a wife (not at the same time, of course "“ Clapton married Pattie Boyd after she and Harrison divorced).

billy9. Billy Preston is only one of two artists to ever receive joint-billing with The Beatles "“ the "Get Back" single credits "The Beatles with Billy Preston." John even once suggested that Billy become the Fifth Beatle. Preston played on the Get Back sessions on quite a few occasions, and played during the famous rooftop performance. Post break-up, he appeared on projects by both Ringo and George.

griffiths10. Eric Griffiths dates back to even before Stuart Sutcliffe. In the late "˜50s, the group that would be known as the Silver Beetles and then the Beatles were then known as the Blackjacks before evolving into the Quarrymen. When Paul McCartney was invited to join the Quarrymen, and then George Harrison, Griffiths was booted out. Except no one actually told him "“ they just failed to invite him to practices after that. When he eventually called to see when the next practice was, he was informed that he was no longer needed at said practices.

Who do you think is the most-qualified to be the Fifth Beatle?

If you're like me and need to satiate your Beatles fix until you can play the game, here are a few more _floss posts on the Fab Four:
Happy Anniversary, Abbey Road!
Also, More on Abbey Road
Name that Beatles Album
It Was 42 Years Ago Today
With a Little Help from my Floss

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.


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