The Successful Launch Of Apple Records

On August 26, 1968, Apple Records launched with four singles, including tracks by The Beatles, Mary Hopkin, Jackie Lomax, and Black Dyke Mills Band.

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Apple Records First Singles
Image: Courtesy of Apple Records

Quick: What was the most successful label launch of the 1960s? That would be Apple Records, which – of course – had quite an advantage, being run by the most famous groups of the 60s. Nonetheless, the imprint’s success was incredible, with two of its first four singles hitting No.1 in the UK.

The idea for The Beatles’ Apple Corps began to take shape following the death of their manager Brian Epstein. The formed company’s first project was the film, Magical Mystery Tour, and the label was officially founded when The Beatles returned from India in 1968.

The Beatles had been contracted to EMI’s Parlophone label in the UK and Capitol Records in America, but they struck a new deal with the two companies to distribute Apple’s releases.

The Beatles - Hey Jude

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On August 26, 1968, Apple released their first four singles in the UK. There was the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” backed by “Revolution.” Apple 2 was Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days,” produced by Paul McCartney. Apple 3 was Jackie Lomax’s “Sour Milk Sea,” a song written and produced by George Harrison. Apple 4, meanwhile, was “Thingumybob” by the Black Dyke Mills Band, a group composed of Lennon and McCartney. The tune they created was used as the theme to a Yorkshire television sitcom of the same name starring Stanley Holloway.

Thingumybob (Stereo Version/2010 Remaster)

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“Hey Jude” topped the UK singles chart for two weeks from September 11 and was replaced at No.1 by Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were The Days,” which stayed at No.1 for six weeks. No other record company has had such conspicuous success with its first two releases.

Strangely, the first catalogue number for Apple Records was not the aforementioned “Hey Jude.” It was actually a one-off pressing of Frank Sinatra singing “Maureen Is a Champ” (with lyrics by Sammy Cahn) to the melody of “The Lady Is a Tramp” for Ringo Starr’s then-wife Maureen as a surprise gift for her 21st birthday.

Listen to Come And Get It: The Best Of Apple Records and dig deeper into the label’s early classics.



  1. Fvmpe

    August 27, 2020 at 2:51 am

    The Beatles and the solo Beatles were not really on Apple. They were on EMI/Capitol. EMI/Capitol started releasing Beatles records with the Apple label as a courtesy, but they weren’t really Apple releases. Look at the catalogue numbers. The only Beatles releases actually released by Apple were the experimental stuff that EMI passed on like Two Virgins, Electronic Sound, Wedding Album, etc … The biggest selling artist on Apple were Badfinger.

  2. Google & Libraries Are Your Friend

    January 14, 2022 at 6:41 am

    True, Apple was manufactured and distributed by EMI around the world (most USA releases were Capitol / EMI – until UME bought EMI in 2012.. only the true first US album “Introducing The Beatles” on Veejay was not) ….. however, Apple was most definitely a proper label, just not run that well, and also is now considered a “vanity” label. Much like Rolling Stones Records, and Jimmy Page’s Swan Song Records, both of which were run a lot better but also only had a handful of artists other than the main bands (Rolling Stones and Zeppelin, respectively). BTW, the experimental stuff was actually first released on Zapple, in the UK and US, an extremely short-lived sister label to Apple. EMI distributed two of the only three Zapple releases, with “Two Virgins” being the only title they passed on (Tetragrammon picked this up in the US, Track Record in the UK). This has been long documented in printed record guides, books about Apple & the band, and easily available to lookup online.

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