Tag Archives: biography

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

book

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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Book Review: “I, Me, Mine” by George Harrison

Call me a glutton for punishment.  After reading Derek Taylor’s book about his non-stop LSD trips and then seeing Derek’s widow talk about their non-stop LSD trips in “Living in a Material World“, I decide to read George Harrison’s autobiography that he wrote in 1980 with the assistance of …Derek Taylor!  Oh goodie…more acid trips!

Several years ago, I asked a world renowned Beatles expert and radio show host what book he thought was the best book ever written about the Beatles.  His answer was I, Me, Mine by George Harrison, so in realty, this book has been on my list for years.

This book is three separate parts.  Part one is a conversation between Harrison and Taylor about George’s thoughts on everything and nothing at all.  For the Beatles fans that are looking for secrets into George’s past, you won’t find them here.  What you will find is his thoughts on Beatlemania and his religious beliefs.  And of course, you’re going to get the bonus of a lot of mumbo jumbo from Derek in between!

The second part of the book is page upon page of pictures of George throughout his life.  From childhood, adolescence, Beatlemania, Monty Python and beyond, including snapshots from the family album.  I can’t say there was anything that wow’d me.

Part three of the book is meant for the diehard Beatles and George Harrison fans.  Each of the songs that George wrote are presented in their raw handwritten form, typed form and another page with George’s explanation behind what inspired the song.

This book left me a little disappointed.  I guess I was looking for more about George from George instead of Derek’s edited version.  The book almost seems like it was published as a way to placate the ever hungry fans for more information.

Copies run on Amazon and Half.com from $0.75 up to $200.  I borrowed mine from the local library!

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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Movie Review: “George Harrison: Living In A Material World”

This is the movie I had attempted to watch several weeks ago while I was traveling.  I ended up in a battle to watch it on my iPad mini for weeks now, before finally giving up and having to watch it on my PC.  I really dislike watching any type of movie on my computer.  I’d much rather do it from the comfort of my couch, especially a 3.5 hour documentary like this.

George Harrison: Living In The Material World, directed by Martin Scorsese, came out in 2011.  Even I had tears in my eyes when I saw the trailer for the movie before it’s release.  Was I going to be able to sit through this film about a beloved Beatle who left us way too early?

The movie actually starts out quite poorly.  Several times during a scene, the music just drops off and  the scene goes to an interview.  There’s no fade out.  I kept thinking, “Is this going to happen through the entire film?  Is this really a Martin Scorsese film?  I guess I should be happy he didn’t cast Leonardo as George!”  Then I started thinking, “Thank god it’s not a Tim Burton film with Johnny Depp as George!”  But I digress…

For some unknown reason, the music stops dropping off and begins fading out between scenes, but still the first half off this film felt more like a Beatles documentary than a movie about George.  I paused it and got up several times to get a drink, let the dog out, etc.  I almost dreaded having to sit through Part Two after the intermission, but that’s actually where the movie picks up and becomes George’s story.  (Except the part where Derek Taylor’s wife shows up and, just like Derek, only wants to talk about doing LSD with the Beatles.  Do these people talk about anything else?!)

Part Two of this movie is a delight and kept me in my chair until the end as George’s friends, colleagues, wife and son telling us about the real George.  If you can make it through the Blah-Blah of the first 1.5 hours,  you’ll love the rest.  Though I wouldn’t call this Scorsese’s best cinematic production, the scenes with George and Friar Park are beautiful.

It was not available on my Fios OnDemand, but you can rent from Amazon.com, iTunes or Netflix.

Buy at Amazon.com or any major retailer where movies are sold.

I rate this movie: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

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Book Review: “As Time Goes By” by Derek Taylor

By the time this review is scheduled to post,  I’ll be on a 4 day silent retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, KY.  I considered taking another Beatles book with me to review, but decided to leave work at home while I contemplate world peace.  Enjoy the review.

Derek…Derek…Derek!  Every book I’ve read about the Beatles mentions Derek Taylor.  One author even went so far as to say Derek is the real fifth Beatle!  Derek was Brian Epstein’s personal assistant before becoming the press agent for the Beatles.  Then he quit…then he came back again.  In that time, he wrote two books.  This is a review of his first book, As Time Goes By.

As Time Goes By by Derek Taylor is a 181 page memoir of Derek’s life in the music business from 1968-1971, with a lot of stories before and after those years.  This was Derek’s first memoir, his second was titled – Fifty Years Adrift and a third book, It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, about the anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s album was published in 1987.  He also helped George Harrison write his autobiography, I, Me, Mine.

I don’t know that As Time Goes By is the right title for this book.  After several chapters, I started to think it should be called ‘Everybody Must Get Stoned’ or ‘I Get High With A Little Help From My Friends’ or ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’  It would seem from what I read in these pages, that Mr. Taylor spent most of his working years in an altered state of consciousness.  He even goes so far as to refer to himself on several occasions as an acid-head or pot-head.  His stories are great, but they come in no real chronological order.  The book seems to just be random memories and anecdotes of him and famous people.

Is it a good book?  Meh.  Is it a fun book?  Yes.  Is it weird as hell?  Oh, hell yeah!  Will I read his other books?  Only time will tell since I’m still trying to figure out what I just read.  What a long strange trip it’s been…

You can find a used copy of As Time Goes By on Amazon for less than $3 if you choose to go down that rabbit hole.

I rate this book: 2 out of 4 Beetles!

You can read more about Derek Taylor on Wikipedia.

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Book Review: “When They Were Boys” by Larry Kane

Larry Kane has been a household name for as long as my family has lived in southeastern PA (40 years!).  And though I have never read his book Ticket to Ride, I was present and accounted for at a local book signing he had for his book Lennon Revealed in 2005…a very good book.  Over the years, Larry and I would meet up once in a blue moon and, once I to him mentioned our mutual acquaintances, he would remember who I am…which was as it should be when you’re Larry Kane.

Enough of the background noise.  Just wanted to clear the air before jumping into my review of Larry Kane’s 2013 release: When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles’ Rise to the Top.  Larry delves into his old interviews with John, Paul, George and Ringo from his days on tour with them in 1964, 1965 and 1966.  And don’t worry about remembering those years, because Larry is going to remind you throughout the book that he was on tour with them in 1964, 1965 and 1966.

Along with sharing with his readers from his early interviews with “the boys” (as he calls them throughout the book and even warns you in the early pages that he will be referring  to them as “the boys”), Mr. Kane interviewed many of the people that were involved in the making, and sometimes breaking, of The Beatles.  He does shed light on a lot of new background information from their humble beginnings to their early days of fame, but he doesn’t do it without consistently repeating the old info over and over again.

I really did enjoy reading the new information from the new sources he sought out, but it was a battle to finish this book because of the small issues I found irritating.  Like…when Larry quotes people it seems that Larry is mentioned in the beginning of all of the first sentences.  “You know, Larry,….”, “Well, Larry…”, “You see, Larry…”  We get it!  Where was the editor for this book?  And sorry, Larry, but I don’t consider Yoko a good source to talk about Stu Sutcliffe.

Read this book for the wonderful new information and interviews, but do it with patience…

You can get a hardcover copy for about $0.75 at Half.com.

At Amazon.com you can get a hardcover or Kindle version.

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

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Book Review: “Angie McCartney: My Long and Winding Road”

Angie McCartney bookPhew!  That Angie McCartney can talk…and talk…and talk…and talk!  But, ya know, it works for her and this book.  And she does stop to catch her breathe on pages 156-157.

Angie McCartney has the distinction of being the step-mother of Sir Paul McCartney.  This is a role she took on in November 1964, at the height of Beatlemania, when she married Paul’s dad Jim.  My Long and Winding Road is Angie’s story.  From her humble beginnings, up until present day, Angie tells of her roller-coaster ride of a life and her travels around the world with her daughter (and best friend) Ruth by her side.

Some Beatles fans may be disappointed that at about midway through this book, after Jim’s death, Paul McCartney is rarely mentioned.  I personally had no problem with this since Angie and Ruth’s adventures make this book a joy to read, and in the end, you find yourself rooting for both of them.

Angie does spend a great deal of time thanking the VIPs that she has met in her 82.9 years, but not in a bragging type of way.  With each celebrity that she writes about meeting, she includes a wonderful story of how they met or a funny story to go along with their continued friendship.

Kindle users can download a copy of this book for just $6.99Angie McCartney: My Long and Winding Road

For those more dedicated fans, you buy a signed copy direct from Angie’s website for $30.

Or for those of you who may be a wee-bit off your rockers, you can buy a used copy of this book on Amazon for about $75!

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 Beetles!

MAMT-VARIETY-PACK

***Note: Don’t miss my new feature starting Tuesday, June 30, when I begin my weekly summer series called ‘Tea for Tuesday‘.  Every Tuesday through July and August, I will post a review of one of the nine flavors of Mrs. Angie McCartney’s Organic and Fair-Trade Teas.  My hope is that this will help some of my readers in their own process of selecting their own favorite flavor.  Or maybe you’ll just buy them all!  See you Tuesday…

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Book Review: My Kid Brother’s Band (aka The Beatles) by Louise Harrison

What to say…what to say…what to say about My Kid Brother’s Band… a.k.a. The Beatles by Louise Harrison?!  I guess my best bet would be to just dive right in and let the chips fall as they may…

Did I enjoy the book?  YES!  Louise let’s you into her life to tell you HER story.  Along the way, it obviously criss crosses and runs parallel to her brother George Harrison’s life as they grew up together and later when he became a member of the greatest band the world has ever known.  The part that most people will not like about this book is that one of Louise’s strongest personality quirks is that her mouth (and fingertips) have no filter on them.

Let me take a moment here and provide my readers with a little background information on the making of this book.  A couple years ago, I was introduced to Louise via phone and email (I still have not had the good fortune to meet her face to face, yet).  She told me she was writing a book, but that it was more her memoirs than it was a tell all about George.  As the year went by, I found out that she had changed her mind and had decided to not publish her memoirs, but to instead, just print a couple copies for her children and grandchildren.  I could respect that.  Another year passed, and lo and behold, I read that she had decided to publish after all.  I immediately pre-ordered my copy.

Since this is Louise’s book, she uses this opportunity it to give many of her personal opinions on politics, religion and her philosophical beliefs.  She does include a heads-up that not everyone is going to agree with what she has said, so read it at your own risk of being offended.  Was I offended?  No.  It would seem I have a lot more in common with Louise than I ever thought.

Some of her stories are repeated several times over the course of the book and the readers will become aware that she probably could have used a good editor, but her story is well written and easy to read (if you’re not slamming the book down after reading her opinion of Obama, abortion or the environment!).

The book is probably not the story most Beatles fans want to read since she makes it clear that she will respect George’s privacy even in death and not tell all.  I still feel this book is worth picking up and reading for the tidbits about John, Paul, George and Ringo, that Louise Harrison does provide along with her perspective of accompanying the Beatles to many of their shows during their 1964-65 tours of America.

You can order your copy of My Kid Brother’s Band (aka The Beatles) at Amazon.com.

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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