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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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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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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: “Wings Over New Orleans” by John Taylor

It was a hot time down in New Orleans last weekend…and I mean that literally and figuratively!  My husband, blogger CigarCraig, and I were in New Orleans for the Cigar and Pipe Retailers convention, but that didn’t stop me from finding a way to fit a little Beatles into our trip!

On Sunday morning, Craig and I had the pleasure of meeting up with John and Janet Taylor of Slidell, LA at the Market Café in the French Market.  We had a great time chatting over coffee, bread pudding and grits with a great jazz band playing in the background.  It felt like we were meeting up with old friends as we looked at photos from when John met Paul and Linda McCartney in 1975.  (John is also a part time actor and has had uncredited roles in movies like Dallas Buyers Club and Django Unchained!)

Now, back to my review…

John Taylor is the author of the new book Wings Over New Orleans: Unseen Photos of Paul and Linda McCartney, 1975.  This book is his account and photos of when Paul and Linda McCartney, along with their band Wings, came to New Orleans in the winter of 1975 to record their album Venus and Mars.  Though only 88 pages long, this book was published by Pelican Publishing (ISBN 9781455620340) of New Orleans and contains countless photos and stories by John and several of the other groupies and fans that hung out outside of Sea-Saint Studios for 3 months talking and talking pictures of the McCartneys during their three month stay in the Big Easy.

After 35 years in storage, John finally brought his photos out of their box in hopes that other fans might like to read and see his story of meeting his idol (John used to play bass in a Beatles tribute band called the Blue Meanies!).

This book is definitely a must have for all McCartney and Wings fans for their collection.

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 Beetles!

You can order Wings Over New Orleans at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.  You can also find Wings Over New Orleans in bookstores.

You can find John Taylor on Facebook

Jennifer w/ author John Taylor in New Orleans (July 2015)

Jennifer w/ author John Taylor in New Orleans (July 2015)

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Beatles Freak Review goes to Louisville, KY in search of John, Paul, George and Ringo! | PRLog

Jennifer Vanderslice, owner and editor of Beatles Freak Review blog, will be packing her bags again this month for a weekend in Louisville, KY, to find all things Beatle-y.

Beatles Freak Review goes to Louisville, KY in search of John, Paul, George and Ringo! | PRLog.

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Book Review: “Nights Inside The Vault” by Sharon Richards

Good morning, Beatles Freaks!  This morning’s review is coming to you live from hot and steamy New Orleans.  This is not the review I had intended to post, but thankfully, I had this e-book loaded into my iPad’s Kindle app before I left home.  I had intended to rent a movie from iTunes to watch on the plane ride here, but due to technical difficulties beyond my control (the movie is no longer available on iTunes!), I decided to read this book  during my down time here in the Big Easy.

Nights Inside The Vault by Sharon L. Richards is the story of her short, but important time working the Hard Rock’s Vault in Orlando, FL from 2002-2004.  Sharon worked as a tour guide for the museum that housed many important and rare pieces of music history within it’s walls, including a section dedicated to the Beatles….a band Sharon was very familiar with and has spoken about at Beatles festivals across the country.

I have to applaud Ms. Richards’ work ethic and integrity as she demonstrates throughout this book her unwavering dedication to not only the Beatles, but to all the other bands represented at The Vault.  What started out as her dream job slowly became an illusion as she and the other guides took on the task of providing provenance to the various pieces of memorabilia.  Needless to say, the reader of this book will also loose faith in the machine that is the Hard Rock after reading Sharon’s accounts that came straight from her daily journals.

Though this self-published e-book could have used a good editor for the typos and flow, I think it is a necessary read for those that dabble in collecting music memorabilia.  It was quite the eye opener for me.

You can download a copy of Nights Inside The Vault at Amazon.com.

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

Bonus!  Here’s a video of Sharon’s former Beatles tribute band – Luv Me Do. I once referred to them as the only female Beatles tribute band that I could listen to.

 

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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: 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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