This week’s blog comes from: David Thomas – Guest Reviewer Extraordinare!
Jennifer has a lot of plates spinning at the moment, so she asked me to fill in on her review blog this week – I am happy to do so, since I always seem to be reading at least one book on The Beatles at any given time.
Question: Who played drums with The Beatles before Ringo Starr? a) Mike (McCartney) McGear, b) Pete Best, c) Norman Chapman, or d) all of the above? If you answered anything other than “d”, your Beatles education is incomplete. Not only is the answer “d”, but there are quite a few other names on that list as well!
I had the pleasure of meeting David Bedford last March at The Fest for Beatles Fans. His first entry into the field of writing was Liddypool, Birthplace of the Beatles (To Understand the Beatles, You Have to Understand Liverpool). Mr. Bedford appears to be a fan of lengthy subtitles, but those subtitles really explain what the book is about, as well as his motivation for writing it. One might think there is little that has not already been written about The Beatles, but “Liddypool” gives the reader many valuable insights into the city that made John, Paul, George and Ringo the people they were and are. Having grown up in The Dingle, Mr. Bedford knows of what he speaks…and whether or not you know what The Dingle is, you really should grab a copy of “Liddypool” before it becomes impossible to find – it is now officially out of print, and according to a recent interview, there are no plans to reprint it at this time.
The Fab One Hundred and Four is David’s 2nd book. It is an outgrowth of “Liddypool”, which contains a chapter entitled “The Fab 27”, where he charts every band member, name-change and lineup, from The Quarrymen to The Beatles. He said that writing that chapter “brought home the realization that, at the heart of The Beatles’ story is the tale of a long line of musicians who came and went through the band until it became The Fab Four we all know and love by the end of 1962.” He also “became fascinated with the story of how The Beatles were inspired and encouraged to begin their musical journey”, and “decided to find every musician who had played with The Beatles in their formative years, plus those who influenced them.” Thus was the genesis of “The Fab One Hundred and Four”.
The book begins with a 2-page time line overview, followed by a list of the “104”, each entry being followed by a brief summary. The book then devotes a chapter to each individual or group in the outline. David’s research is thorough and meticulous, and he provides ample documentation for why each of the “104” should be included. He also says that “along the way there may have been extra musicians not recorded here…but without further corroborative evidence they cannot be included.”
I am certain that even the most devout Beatle fan will learn something from this book. Some of the more interesting chapters for me include those regarding John Duff Lowe (keyboards), Tommy Moore (drums), and Royston Ellis (beat poet). The chapter on Norman Chapman (drums) was especially interesting to me, and few people know how close he came to being a full-fledged member of the group at one point. There is even a chapter on Janice the Stripper, for whom The Beatles provided backing music at “Cabaret Artists’ Social Club”, owned by Allan Williams.
Although there is a tremendous amount of information to absorb here, the way the book is structured makes for very easy and enjoyable reading. This book is a must have for any serious student of The Beatles music.
I rate it 4 Beetles