Tag Archives: biography

Book Review: “A Cellarful of Noise” by Brian Epstein

My reading and review of A Cellarful of Noise by Beatle’s manager Brian Epstein has been too long in coming. This book was published in August 1964 and since I was born in July 1964 and was unable to read at the time, I think I have a firm excuse for being tardy.

I’ve known about this book for a very long time, but it was during the reading and review of Peter Brown’s book, The Love You Make, that I finally decided to invest in my own copy. These books don’t come cheaply. My first edition hardcover copy cost me $25 + shipping. If you’re not inclined to spend that much on a book, you can get a copy of A Cellarful of Noise on Kindle for $7.99. But I digress…

I had one trepidation about reading this book and that’s because it was ghost written by my arch-nemesis Derek Taylor. Anyone who has read along with my blog for any substantial amount of time will know that Mr. Taylor just gets under my skin despite the fact that everyone associated with him always writes very highly of him and his place in the Beatles organization. Still, I wasn’t going to let this stop me from reading what I consider to be an absolute must read experience for any Beatles freak!

To give you some background on the writing of this book, let me quote a paragraph from Peter Brown’s book:

The book’s entire interview and research period took place over a long weekend at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay in the south of England. On the first day Brian got through his childhood period without much trouble, but on the second day he started having difficulty telling Derek the story of his teens and early twenties.

At only 120 pages, this book is a short and abbreviated story of Brian Epstein, his life, career (with and without the Beatles) and his hopes and thoughts about his future, the future of the Beatles and his other artists. At some points, it seems to almost become a sales pitch for Billy J. Kramer, Cilla Black and Gerry Marsden since it was written so early on in Brian’s career as a manager, but still it is a very enjoyable read with a lot of stories I had already heard and some stories that were new and revealing to me (remember, I don’t consider myself a Beatles trivia expert, so a lot of tales are still very new to me). Brian, always being the consummate professional and purveyor of good manners, is kind throughout the pages and if he does tell any tales of arguments or disagreements, he’s sure to clear up any harsh exchanges with words of peace and harmony in the end. And even though I had my doubts about this book because of Derek’s influence in it’s pages, I’m led to believe that because of Brian’s inscrutable honesty in all manners, that he would have never allowed the release of any book that wasn’t a true story and depiction of himself or those around him. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Article in People Magazine – July 4, 1983

people_070483I just recently stumbled upon this article that was in People magazine in July 1983. It’s about all the books that were coming out about John Lennon after his tragic death. Some of you may find it completely irrelevant, but I found the author’s opinion of the books and their authors very interesting…

 

http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20085405,00.html

 

Enjoy!

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Guest Book Review: “Paul McCartney: The Life” by Philip Norman

Today’s review is from one of my very talented musician friends, and another Beatles freak – Nik Everett. You can follow Nik on Facebook here.

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Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman (Little, Brown and Company 2016)

This new outing offers few revelations into the life of Paul McCartney but much personal detail with scant references to his music as if Norman appears afraid to discuss music nor cares to know nothing about it. One must remember he was the author of the best selling Beatle bio, “Shout!” and was savage in his treatment of McCartney showing bias in favor of John Lennon often also at the expense of George and Ringo. In “The Life” Norman appears to redeem himself and puts Paul into a fairer light acknowledging his contributions to The Beatles not only musically but the cultural with McCartney’s immersion into the avant garde and the hippy underground. That foray brought many of the innovations and sounds to The Beatles psychedelic years starting with “Revolver” through “Magical Mystery Tour.” Norman also brings into focus his subject’s work ethnic. It is likely that “Revolver” until the last album, “Abbey Road” would have never happened without his creativity and drive. McCartney was The Beatles’ greatest cheerleader. And as innovative as the Fab Four were in the studio, they got along best during their club and touring years thus, the book covers that well from Liverpool to Hamburg then conquering America and the world. The book also does reveal the often touching relationship Paul had with his father the amateur musician, Jim.

Norman takes us on the all too familiar journey through the Beatles breakup, meeting Linda, forming Wings with the tensions of revolving members, Paul’s complicated relationships with John and George, his business savvy and MPL empire, the philanthropy, his children, the eventual triumph and worldwide success of Wings, the infamous Japanese pot bust, the Wings breakup, Linda’s tragic death and the solo years leading up a return to touring that continues to this day.

The final act spends too many pages on his marriage to Heather Mills but it’s nice to have a bio that takes us up to modern times. As implied earlier, the book helps secure McCartney as a shrewd businessman and PR man who happens to be a musical genius with a still restless, creative soul in his seventies and is surprisingly normal as one of the most famous men on earth can be.

 

Nik Everett singer/songwriter

http://www.reverbnation.com/nikeverett

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Book Review: “Daddy, Come Home: the true story of John Lennon and his father” by Pauline Lennon

Daddy Come Home: True Story of John Lennon and His Father by Pauline Lennon was a suggested read from Amazon.  Pauline Jones became John Lennon‘s step-mother in 1966 when she eloped with John’s father Alfred Lennon.  She was 20 and “Freddie” was 56.

Pauline met Freddie soon after John and his estranged father had reconciled in 1964 and even spent some time living and working at Kenwood for Cynthia and John as a nanny and doing secretarial work.

Pauline and AlfredI loved this book.  It really brought about a new light on an old subject of who Alfred Lennon was and why he acted in the way he did when it came to his first wife Julia and his son John.  Most of the book is taken from an autobiography that Alfred wrote in hopes of setting the record straight about his life and behavior, but the book never saw the light of day, because after a falling out with John (during his primal scream days), John forbade him to ever publish it.  The manuscript for the book was sent to John the week his father died.

Pauline also acts as a eye witness to several interactions between the on again, off again relationship between father and son and helps to tell Alfred’s story in his later years and after his death.

Whether you believe Alfred and Pauline’s stories or not, this is book is an easy and enjoyable read.  I burned through their wonderful love story and telling of their ups and downs as the most famous Beatles’ parents.  And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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Unfortunately, this book is out of print, so finding an inexpensive copy is difficult.  They’re currently selling for over $17.00 on Amazon.

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Book review: “Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll”, by Fred Goodman

(This is a Guest Review by David Thomas.  He’s a retired music teacher and huge Beatles fan that I met a year ago at the Fest for Beatles Fans in New York.  If you love his review, leave a note for him in the comment section and maybe we can make him a regular guest. Enjoy!)


And now for something completely (well, partially) different; a guest review!  I was so pleased to be asked to fill in for Jennifer on her review this week as she tends to very pressing writing matters of a different kind. 
 
Yes – Allan Klein, the man we Beatles fans love to hate!  For a very long time, I’ve had an idea in my mind of what Klein was like.  Unfortunately, it was based solely upon not very flattering anecdotes, and the knowledge that he had caused trouble between the Beatles.  Besides, Paul McCartney, didn’t like him, so that was good enough for me!  But deep down, I knew there had to be more to this man than the stereotypical caricature I had in my mind, so I sought out this book.
 
The book itself is well written, albeit a bit tough to follow in spots where they are discussing the details of Klein’s financial and legal deals.  These spots are numerous but short, and they are really quite integral to the story, because Klein was extremely creative for his time in the way he structured deals for his artists (and himself).  Many of the things he did are commonplace (or in some cases, illegal) today, but back then, they were considered revolutionary and brilliant. 
 
Klein, as you may suspect, was far from a one-dimensional stereotype; in fact, he was a man of many contradictions.  One minute he seems to be the most despicable figure EVER in the entertainment business, and the next there is something about him that evokes your sympathy. He was greedy with some, yet generous with others; he was a fierce negotiator, yet full of insecurities about himself and his abilities.  He worked tirelessly to get a better deal for his clients, while simultaneously almost always getting an even better deal for himself.
 
The book gives an excellent history of Klein the man, and gives the insight I was looking for into what made the man “tick”.  We find out why he spent a good deal of his childhood in an orphanage, and over the course of time, how he transformed an early talent for numbers into a remarkable career….through a combination of hard work, perseverance, luck, and a little (okay, maybe more than a little) deceit thrown in along the way.  

As the title suggests, his dealings with the Beatles are only a part of what is discussed in the book, although from long before his first meeting with John Lennon, Klein made it his ultimate goal to work with them; an achievement which would say to the world, and more importantly to himself, that he had finally succeeded.
Guest Reviewer
 
A great read about a key figure in Beatle history.  I give this book 4 Beetles!
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Book Review: “Bumping into Geniuses” by Danny Goldberg


Bumping Into Geniuses: My Life Inside the Rock and Roll Business by Danny Goldberg is another book I had taking up room on my shelf and collecting dust.  It was time to do or die…either it was going to stay or go.

Danny Goldberg has done just about every possible job in the music industry possible…from reviewer to president of a major record label.  He’s another man that die-hard rock fans would just love to hate.  And for the first 60 pages of this book, I hated him so extensively that I thought I’d never be able to finish this book as he went on and on about all the people he knew, met, partied with and their inner circle.  Using one of my husband’s favorite words, this book appeared to be nothing more than a ‘masturbatory’ autobiography!  But then things take a turn…

His stories become real after page 60.  Not that they weren’t real before, but when he became the publicist for Led Zeppelin, Mr. Goldberg starts to admit to his shortcomings and doubts about his abilities to bring the very much deserved attention to an amazing band that shied away from interviews and wasn’t yet recognized for their talents.  It wasn’t until he compared one of their concerts to the Beatles at Shea Stadium that he was able to get them front page status.  And his behind the scene stories of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page are a great insiders look at the workings of how these guys ended up being Rock Gods.

But Goldberg doesn’t stop there.  He tells about representing Stevie Nicks, Warren Zevon, Nirvana and so many other rock legends.  You’ll learn what these stars are/were like off stage as well as on in this book.  I actually could not put this book down after page 61.  And for that reason,

I rate this book, 4 out 4 Beetles!

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You can order a hardcover copy of this book on Half.com for about $0.75.

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Book Review: “Beatles vs. Stones” by John McMillian

 Beatles vs. Stones by John McMillian was published in 2013, but I just saw it for the first time a couple weeks ago on the shelf at Barnes & Noble.  As I said previously, I rarely pay full price for any of the books I review, so when I went looking for a used copy online, I discovered that there had been another earlier book written on this same topic.  I reviewed that book, The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, last week.  The difference between the two is amazing!

This book is actually a very enjoyable read and I learned a lot about the relationship between John & Paul and Mick & Keith.  They were all actually very good friends from the very start and John and Paul actually wrote the second song The Rolling Stones recorded!  That’s something that I didn’t read in last week’s book… a book that now appears like it was just a pissing contest between the co-authors to see who knew more about the two bands and their albums.

As for my opinion on this topic, both books start out early saying there was no rivalry between the two highly successful British invasion bands.  So why the books?  Because just like the press has always done, they created a rivalry that never really existed.

The book that I think really needs to be written (and maybe it has and I just haven’t found it yet) is The Beatles vs. The Beach Boys.  Those were two bands that used to analyze and look at the dynamics of each others songs and try to outdo each other.  It wasn’t just a pissing contest for first place on the record charts…it was who could write the better song and produce a better album!

Still this is a great book to learn about the relationship and friendship between two of the greatest bands the world has every known.  And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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You can get a copy of this book at Half.com for about $0.75

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