The Beatles’ experimental label Zapple Records was launched on this day, with the UK release of two albums: John Lennon and Yoko Ono‘s Unfinished Music No 2: Life With The Lions, and George Harrison‘s Electronic Sound.
Zapple was created to release experimental solo albums by The Beatles, along with spoken word and avant-garde recordings from other artists.
The Apple subsidiary was run by Barry Miles, a friend of Paul McCartney; Miles later wrote McCartney’s authorised biography, Many Years From Now.
Although the label had been in existence since October 1968, Life With The Lions and Electronic Sound were the only albums released by Zapple.
Life With The Lions was Lennon and Ono’s follow-up to the controversial Two Virgins. It was issued as Zapple 01. Side one was filled by the improvised recording Cambridge 1969, recorded on 2 March that year at Cambridge University before a live audience, and consisted of five sections: Song For John; Cambridge; Let’s Go On Flying; Snow Is Falling All The Time; Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow. Side two contained four tracks: No Bed For Beatle John; Baby’s Heartbeat; Two Minutes Silence; Radio Play.
Acetate copies of a third Zapple album – a spoken word release by the writer Richard Brautigan which was to have been Zapple 3 – were pressed. There were also plans to release spoken word albums by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael McClure, as well as a recording of a UK appearance by comedian Lenny Bruce, but these never came to fruition.
The Zapple label was folded by Klein before the record could be released. The first two Zapple records did come out. We just didn’t have [Brautigan's record] ready in time before Klein closed it down. None of the Beatles ever heard it.
Zapple lasted until June 1969, when the label was closed by Allen Klein.