In The Beatles’ 1966 song Taxman, George Harrison berates Harold Wilson’s proposed 95pc “supertax” on the UK’s highest earners. “If 5pc appears too small,” he sings bitterly, “be grateful I don’t take it all.”
But there was one man to whom the Fab Four were genuinely thankful for keeping their Revenue bill down: their accountant, Harry Pinsker.
Many people claim to have been in The Beatles’ inner circle, but Pinsker truly was. From 1961 to 1970 he oversaw their finances, set up their companies, helped buy their homes, and even signed off their grocery shopping.
“I first met them in my office – they were just four scruffy boys,” recalls Pinsker, now 87. “I hadn’t heard of them – few people had outside Liverpool. That changed.”
Pinsker was born in Hackney, east London, and harboured ambitions to be a doctor or solicitor. But he lost months of education through war (he was evacuated to Norfolk and Cornwall), racism (Truro College said it “could not take a Jewish boy”) and illness (he spent days in intensive care with peritonitis).
“Missing schooling meant I failed Latin, necessary for medicine or law,” he says. “So I became an accountant.”
On leaving school in 1947, Pinsker was articled to the London office of Bryce Hanmer & Co, which audited theatrical clients including Arthur Askey and impresario Jack Hylton. “I met my childhood heroes – Flanagan and Allen, Jimmy Edwards. It was wonderful,” he says.