Music Exec Who Helped Turn Beatles Into Business Moguls Dies at 80

The Irish-born film executive who was the force behind the transformation of the Beatles’ business affairs in the 1970s has died.

Denis O’Brien, who oversaw the band’s activities and later film productions, died Tuesday at his home in Malibu, his family said. He was 80.

O’Brien was the president of Apple Corps Ltd., the band’s business empire, when he died of kidney failure, his brother Philip said in a statement.

O’Brien joined the Beatles’ family in 1968 as managing director of Apple Ltd., working from a base in the U.K. for Apple Corps Ltd.

During the following years, he increased the band’s earnings, cut down on their hard partying and got them into legitimate business enterprises.

O’Brien bought part of the Beatles’ stake in the Apple Corps Ltd. business in 1973 and agreed to oversee its films, television and music efforts in addition to their music.

O’Brien was a close friend of Michael Jackson and grew close to his family, said his son Chris O’Brien, who added that O’Brien will be missed by “everyone who knew him.”

Born in Ireland on May 29, 1937, O’Brien studied journalism at Dublin’s Trinity College. After World War II, he was involved in small Irish radio stations and the magazine Sanada.

O’Brien first moved to Los Angeles in 1963 as he began to freelance in the industry, later becoming a studio executive and president of Twentieth Century Fox’s TV production and music division.

He also worked as director of entertainment for television and film at United Artists and served as agent at United Artists’ theatrical sales and distribution arm.

O’Brien later took over Star TV, a Hollywood-based company specializing in the distribution of movies and TV shows.

Along the way, he managed the careers of dozens of U.S. artists, including Jack Nicholson, Lucille Ball, Don Rickles, Andy Williams, Liza Minnelli, Lucille Ball, Herb Alpert, Tim Allen, Dylan Thomas, George Lopez, Barbara Harris, and Bob Keyes.

He is survived by his wife, author and longtime friend Pat O’Brien, his son, son in law, daughter and six grandchildren.

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