Tag Archives: biography

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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Movie Review: “George Harrison: The Quiet One”

I decided to watch another movie from my free trial Prime membership before I have to cancel it within the next week.

George Harrison: The Quiet One is a one hour documentary on…George Harrison! It really didn’t offer up anything new on ‘the quiet Beatle’ that any real Beatles or Harrison fan wouldn’t have already known or read about before now. Though it was nice to see and hear the thoughts of George Martin and one of George Harrison’s childhood friends.

Add this movie to your freebie list, as I don’t feel that it would be worth the money to rent or buy it unless you’re one of those fans that has to own everything. And for that reason….

I rate this movie 2 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book Review: “Ringo: With a Little Help” by Michael Seth Starr

The first thing Michael Seth Starr, the author of Ringo: With a Little Help, is going to tell you is that he’s no relation to Ringo Starr…so let’s get that off the table right now.

I began this book on Monday and went cross-eyed trying to get it read in time to review it by Sunday. Nothing against the book, it’s an easy read, but when I got it on Monday, I expected  a large print book with a not so detailed story of Ringo Starr’s life (in actuality, it’s over 350 pages of small print).  But how does anyone tell Ringo’s story without telling the entire Beatles story along the way?

Author Michael Starr claims in the introduction that he will not be telling the Beatles story, but I’m here to tell you that he lies. There is plenty of Fab Four details in this book and it occasionally looses it’s direction throughout it’s 350 pages. There’s not a lot of new stuff to be told about our hero Ringo that we haven’t already been told. I’d say I could count on two hands the number of details contained in this book that I was unaware of about the life of Richard Starkey. Most of the stories have been told in other biographies, such as Pattie Boyd’s story of Ringo’s wife’s affair with George (then again…who didn’t sleep with George?).

Still though, it’s nice to finally have a book about Ringo, even if Ringo took to Twitter to inform his fans that this book is an unauthorized biography that “has nothing to do with me”.

The author did seem to have a problem with keeping focused throughout the book and would digress into other stories, and then come back to his topic at hand. The chapters also seem to be a little disjointed and appear more to give the reader a break off point to eat, sleep or pee, then to finish off any particular time period.

Unless you’re an over the top Ringo fan, I would recommend borrowing this book from the library. I don’t believe it’ll ever become a collectors item (but then again, a lot of people thought the Beatles were just a fad too, so who am I to say).  I also think the publisher  may have randomly missed the editing of a few chapters, as the typos seem to come in clumps.

It don’t come easy…but this book is an easy read. And for that reason…

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book Review: “Clapton: The Autobiography” by Eric Clapton

One thing leads to another… and after reading George Harrison’s “I, Me, Mine” and Pattie Boyd’s “Wonderful Tonight,” the next obvious choice seemed to be to read, Clapton: The Autobiography.  (For those not in the know, Eric stole George’s wife Pattie).  The odd thing is…I’m not a Eric Clapton fan.  Oh sure, I like Layla and Tears in Heaven, but those songs were #1 songs, but I always found Wonderful Tonight to be so overplayed and too sappy!  Yet…

I couldn’t put this book down!

Eric Clapton started out his young life a lot like John Lennon did…with an absentee father and being raised by someone other than his mother.  But his story had an odd twist in that he was led to believe his grandparents were his real parents and his uncle was his brother.  This bizarre family situation played out in so many ways throughout his life and career as he spent half a decade looking for the acceptance he never got from his mother.  Sound familiar?

Somewhere along the way, through all the obsessions and addictions with women, alcohol and drugs, Clapton managed to have several short lived, yet very successful bands.  His guitar playing reached a God-like status early and carried him on to become one of the most respected guitar players of today, despite the turmoil going on in the background.

Eventually, Eric cleaned himself up and is now a family man who tires easily on the road when touring.  He even mentions his recommendation for the best parenting book and speaks openly about his need to help others achieve their own sobriety.

You can buy a copy of Eric Clapton’s autobiography for $0.01 at Amazon, or for $0.75 at Half.com.

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

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Book Review: “The New Norm: Lessons from a look-alike” by Mike Oltersdorf

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The New Norm by Mike and Dan Oltersdorf came up on Amazon as a suggested read while I was looking at another book.  What attracted me to this book, besides the fact that this guy looks like my favorite Beatle, is that he has Parkinson’s disease.  I spent many years working in nursing homes as a nurses aid and I’ve seen the devastation that Parkinson’s can reek on someone’s body.  Trust me folks, Alzheimer’s has nothing on Parkinson’s.  My heart goes out to Mike.

Mike Oltersdorf didn’t always look like Paul McCartney.  It wasn’t until his late 40’s after gaining 40 pounds that people started to tell him his resembled the cute Beatle.  This lead to many years of him working as a celebrity look-alike and winning the Beatles Look-alike contest 12 times at Beatles Fest.  But nothing could prepare him for the Parkinson’s diagnosis that made him feel as if his exciting career was over.  Or was it?

This book is Mike’s (and his son Dan) story of how he managed to spin a new take on his life and how he found enlightenment from the lyrics of two Beatles songs.  And through these lyrics, he passes his gift on to the world to teach us all how to live the new norm everyday.

This book is just 80 pages, but packs a punch and ends with a worksheet to help you find your gift to share with the world.  Proceeds from each book benefit the National Parkinson Foundation, so even if you just buy the $0.99 Kindle version, you can know you’ve helped others, but I think you’ll enjoy Mike’s message.

You can order Mike’s book in paperback or for Kindle at Amazon.

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book Review: “It’s Sid Bernstein Calling” by Sid Bernstein

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but the fact that I started reading this book this week became really surreal when I realized, it’s been two years this week since Sid departed this earth.  And throughout this week, while reading It’s Sid Bernstein Calling, there have been a lot of other coincidences too.  Just as I put the book down for a moment, something will come on TV or someone will bring up a topic that I just read about in this book.  Makes me think Sid’s still with us.

What a wonderful man Sid was.  I had the pleasure of meeting him twice in my lifetime and he was a joy to be around.  And I attended the memorial tribute they had for him in NYC where I ran into the lovely May Pang while standing in line.

May and I at Sid Bernstein tribute show Feb. 2014

May and I at Sid Bernstein tribute show Feb. 2014

Once again, I digress.

This book was a real surprise to me.  I had no idea what an incredible man Sid Bernstein was beyond his dealings with bring the Beatles to America and a few other various artists.  Sid Bernstein was in WW1…in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.  He started managing musicians when he was just 14 years old and never stopped.  And this book is written, just as if Sid were sitting in front of you, modestly telling it to you himself.  Not only did he represent some of the biggest names in show business, he rejected some of the biggest names in show business (Barbra Streisand!).

Sid’s book is out of print, but you can still buy new and used copies at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Half.com.

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

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Book Review: “Wonderful Tonight” by Pattie Boyd

Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me by Pattie Boyd was written in 2007.  This book should be used as a learning tool for all models and teenagers that dream of marrying a rockstar!  Her story is also proof positive that growing up in a rich family doesn’t necessarily mean you had a happy childhood.

At the tender age of 20, Pattie Boyd married George Harrison at the height of Beatlemania.  But after several years, as her marriage started to crumble, Eric Clapton took a fancy to her and from what appears to be a case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, Pattie left George and ended up married to Eric.

Throughout this book, Pattie questions just about every romantic decision she’s ever made…even as they were happening to her. She brings us through her two well publicized divorces; her striving to be on her own; George’s death and the tragic death of Eric’s son from an affair he had while married to her, only coming out of the haze in her early 40s realizing she doesn’t know who Pattie Boyd is aside from the ex-Mrs. Harrison and ex-Mrs. Clapton.

Pattie does a great job telling her life story and letting you in on the private lives of both her ex-husbands.  There are a few stories along the way that contradict other people’s versions of the same tales, but she tells you in the beginning of the book that this books tells the stories the way she remembers them.

Oh…and in case you’re wondering (since we are talking about George again!), there is plenty of pot smoking and acid dropping in this book too!

You can buy copies of Wonderful Tonight on Amazon or Half.com for $0.01 or more.

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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