Tag Archives: George Harrison

Book Review: “Maharishi and Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru” by Susan Shumsky

On September 3rd, I received an email asking if I’d be interesting in being part of a Blog Tour for a new book. The subject line of the email was “NEW BOOK: The Beatles’ India – sex scandals & mental breakdowns (Inside Story)”. As a publicist who works with authors, a book that was released seven months earlier is not considered a new book…but what the hell. Also, I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Susan Shumsky, last week at the Beatles’ White Album Symposium at Monmouth University in New Jersey. I introduced myself and told her I would be reviewing her book. We had a brief conversation, I attended one of her talks and then said our goodbyes at the end of the seminar.

Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru by Susan Shumsky was released on February 13, 2018.  It’s a 300+ page book about the author’s experience with the same Maharishi that the Beatles spent time with in 1968. The book is very well written and an easy read. Of course, you may get tripped up on all the Hindu terminology, but not enough to distract too much from her personal story of following and living at the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and practicing transcendental meditation for over 20 years.

Now for the more personal side of this review…and strictly my opinion: There are many times throughout Susan’s story that the word ‘cult’ would come to my mind. Even the author herself brings up the topic along the way, but easily finds ways of dismissing it at times. It can become almost disturbing to the reader and I still haven’t come to terms with her justification of some of the things that she brings to light about the Maharishi’s organization. Even after being kicked out of the TM organization, she still supports the Maharishi to the very end.

But was John Lennon correct when he called the Maharishi a fraud? Well, this is also left open to interpretation. Ms. Shumsky spends several chapters in the middle of her book discussing the Beatles involvement and visit to India to meet with Maharishi at his ashram. She draws the stories from other sources since she wasn’t there to obtain any first hand knowledge. She also draws upon stories from people she knows who were there. In a court of law, a lot of this would all be considered hearsay. My thought is to take what she says, along with any other sources you may have read and develop your own opinion. Or…maybe not, because in the end, does any of it really matter? I think it’s up to the reader to decide what’s right for them when it comes to their personal religious beliefs and not be influenced by celebrity endorsements…or condemnations. Even Susan says in her book that you have to find the right guru for you, so you’ll either find her story about TM impressive or disturbing.

Susan Shumsky does a great job of opening the readers eyes to the making (and life) of a guru by someone who was actually there to witness it. She tells both the good and bad. The stories of her experiences are heartwarming, funny, disturbing and told with a lot of strength. Yes, I would highly recommend that you read this book if you’re a true Beatles fans or just someone considering TM or just wants a first hand experience of what it’s like inside the ashram. It’s a book that can create a lot of discussions about gurus, religion and God. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

***For more information on Susan Shumsky, go to www.DivineRevelations.org

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Book Review: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography” by Eric Idle

Always look on the bright side of life eric idleAlways Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle is due to be released on October 2, 2018, but I was lucky enough to get an advanced ebook copy from FirstToRead.com.

Knowing that Eric was very close friends with George Harrison made choosing to read and review this book a no-brainer! The sub-title of this book could actually be “and a semi-autobiography of George Harrison” because from the very beginning Eric Idle talks about their life long friendship. Even in stories that George isn’t in, Idle will end with, “As George Harrison always said….”

But this book isn’t just about Eric Idle, George Harrison and the Pythons. The names of all the notable people Eric has worked and socialized with is outstanding (and take way too much band with to list)! I actually got tired of the name dropping at one point, but that is the way his life has evolved. And every name he drops has a story. From getting Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher drunk the night before a filming a major scene in The Empire Strikes Back (he says you can tell they’re hungover in the scene), to having dinner at Billy Connolly’s house with Robin William and Prince Charles all at the table!

Unfortunately, the ebook copy that I received from Crown Publishing is an unedited proof, so there are some typos and some really rough paragraphs that could use some cleaning up, not to mention one badly placed photo with the wrong caption. Oh…and speaking of the photos! There are photos from so many of Eric Idles stories that you’d think he had them taken just so he could prove that the outrageousness of some of his stories are true.

This book is an absolute must read for everyone…especially George Harrison and Beatles fans…and of course Monty Python fans. And even though they swore they’ll never tour again, Palin, Cleese, Idle, Jones and Gilliam have broken that promise several times already. Let’s hope for another reunion. In the meantime, pre-order this book (https://amzn.to/2wVqOIh). It’ll really make you laugh….and for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Baby’s In Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles” by Arne Bellstorf

Baby's In Black Arne BellstorfBaby’s in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles a black and white graphic novel by German cartoonits Arne BellstorfThis hardcover book measures approximately 6″ x 9″ and is 195 pages long. It was originally published in Germany in 2010 under the title Baby’s In Black: The Story of Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe, and later translated into English in 2011 and released in the U.S. in 2012 with its new title.

This is the latest graphic novel in my quest to find the ultimate Beatles graphic novel. I bought a used ex-library copy off of Amazon.com, so I can really comment on the cover since mine has plastic covering it. I will say that even though this book is in black & white, I enjoyed the artwork much more than the book I read last week in which I had a hard time telling the individual Beatles apart from the artist’s renditions. I believe the author of Baby’s In Black, Arne Bellstorf, was much better at pulling off the emotion of the characters much better than some other cartoonists who used more color and detailed drawings.

This book is the love story of Astrid Kirchherr and Beatles’ bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, from the moment they set eyes on each other at the Kaiserkeller club in Hamburg, Germany, until the day Astrid broke the news to John and Paul that Stu had died. George, Paul and John also play a big part in the story with barely a mention of Pete Best. Klaus Voormann also figures prominently in the story, as does Astrid’s mother. You have to give the author a lot of credit for getting the real Astrid Kirchherr to help in making the story as true as possible. It made it a real delight to read knowing that it came from source. And though I’m weary to label this as the ultimate Beatles graphic novel (since it’s really about Astrid and Stu), I really believe that any Beatle fan would truly enjoy this book. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The Authorized Roy Orbison” by Roy Jr., Wesley and Alex Orbison

The authorized Roy Orbison Alex Wesley Roy Jr.The Authorized Roy Orbison by his three sons Roy Jr., Wesley and Alex Orbison is a 256 page, 10.5″ x 10.5″ hardcover wonder. It’s big enough to be considered a coffee table book but it’s so much more than that. It’s the story of musical genius Roy Orbison from his birth in Vernon, TX on April 23, 1936 until after his death on December 6, 1988 at the young age of 52 as told by his three sons.

The Authorized Roy Orbison was published on October 17, 2017 and the pictures in this book alone make it worth the purchase. (The cover price is $30, but at the time I bought it on Amazon, it was only $15.) Filled with colorful concert photos, B&W family photos, album covers, promotional and concert posters, the reader could easily just spend several hours taking in Roy’s life in only photos and by reading the captions.

For the Beatles fans, the book doesn’t stop at telling about Roy and the Fabs touring together in 1963, it talks about them meeting up later on the set for A Hard Day’s Night and socializing whenever Roy was in the U.K. on tour himself. And don’t forget about Roy’s huge comeback in 1988 as Left Wilbury in the Traveling Wilburys with Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and George Harrison. You Got It…

And then…there’s pages 27 & 28. Why? Why did there have to be a huge glaring error in this otherwise almost flawless book? The text in the first five paragraphs on page 27 is repeated verbatim on page 28…only the pictures have changed. This really left me shaking my head. Someone really messed up. The only plus side I can make of this is that it will be a collector’s item someday. “Yeah, but do you have the edition with the repeat on pages 27 & 28?!” Ugh.

But please, don’t let that stop you from buying this amazing book reading along to the sometimes tough, sometimes tragic, but  still successful life of Roy “Lefty Wilbury” Orbison. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Once Upon A Time In Liverpool” by Judith Kristen and illustrated by Eric Cash

Once Upon A Time In Liverpool Judith Kristen Eric CashA book I should have read long ago when I bought it after it was first released, Once Upon a Time in Liverpool by Judith Kristen and illustrated by Eric Cash was published November 16, 2012. According to the copyright page, the printing of this book was limited to 1000 copies. You can still find new copies on Amazon and on Eric Cash’s website, so I sent a couple emails last week to find out if the book did go into a second printing, but I never got an answer.

Once Upon A Time In Liverpool is a 40 page children’s book that is as wonderful to look at as it is to read. After spending the past several weeks reading a lot of different children’s books about The Beatles, I believe this one is the must have for any parent introducing their children to the Beatles for the first time, or for any Beatles book collector. Between Eric’s amazing retro styled paintings & long history of painting the Beatles, matched with Judith’s skills at writing children’s books, these two seem to have found the right combination to tell the story properly! Each Beatle is introduced to the reader with their birth date, parents, where in Liverpool they were born and what schools they attended. The readers is then lead through each of their lives as they came together to be the Fab Four that we know today. They even include Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliff in their little book. Just Fab! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Giveaway: “Once There Was a Way: What if The Beatles Stayed Together?” by Bryce Zabel

Once There Was A Way Bryce ZabelHappy holidays readers! While surfing my way through Facebook this week, I came across a post about this book – Once There Was a Way: What If The Beatles Stayed Together?  by Bryce Zabel. Since it was just released on December 5, 2017, I decided request a review copy from the publisher, Diversion Books. After offering to send me a review copy, they wrote back to me and asked if I would like to have a contest on my site and give away three copies. “Absolutely!”, I replied.

The book is a 308 page, fictional tale of what might have happened had the Beatles remained friends and never broke up their band.  I can’t wait to read and review it for everyone, but in the meantime, here is an excerpt from the book. I choose this one because it includes one of my favorite Beatles ladies…May Pang!

 

ONCE THERE WAS A WAY – EXCERPT

Lennon Kidnapping (1974)

Once Julian was safely back to the care of his mother, Cynthia, John returned to his party life in Malibu. The Weathermen followed him constantly. Ironically, even though Lennon spotted them several times, he dismissed them as junior FBI agents and ignored them.

The nightclubs they followed him into included the famed Troubadour in Hollywood. Wearing disguises, the Weathermen observed Lennon and Nilsson throwing back Brandy Alexanders like men who had been lost in the desert for a week. One night, an inebriated Lennon came from the restrooms wearing a sanitary napkin attached to his forehead. Dohrn and Ayers watched as a waitress questioned him as to whether he was leaving a tip on the way out.

“Do you know who I am?” Lennon asked.

“Yes,” the waitress shot back. “You’re the asshole with a Kotex on your head.”

The plan had been for Dohrn and Ayers to pick up Lennon after he left the Troubadour, but now there were too many people around, from bouncers to club owners to fans gathered to watch the stumbling Lennon. If anything, the scene convinced Dohrn and Ayers that Lennon was a worthy target who would benefit from some re-education—they’d just have to wait a little longer to implement their plans.

As it turned out, they didn’t have to wait as long as they thought. The evening of March 12, 1974, had been a dark one for John Lennon, now almost a year into his banishment by Yoko Ono. Lennon and Nilsson began throwing down more cocktails and decided to heckle the Smothers Brothers, the controversial political satirists.

“The comments got so ugly and personal that we were about to get pulled off the stage,” Tommy Smothers said. “We loved the Beatles and it blew our minds that one of them would try to ruin our show.”

As the situation escalated, club security attempted to remove the drunken and enraged rock stars in the audience. The struggle turned physical, and Lennon lost his memorable glasses in the scuffle.

All of this, of course, attracted just as much attention as the Kotex incident, but this time, the Weather Underground was prepared—they had a spotter in the crowd who used a nearby payphone to call Bernardine Dohrn, stationed at another payphone near Lennon’s rental house on the beach.

As a taxi dropped off Lennon, Nilsson, and Pang at Lennon’s, a coordinated team of five members of the Weather Underground made their move to grab Lennon. Nilsson tried to hold on to his friend but was punched out cold for his bravery, suffering a concussion when his head hit the stone driveway. A car appeared, driven by Ayers, with Dohrn in the passenger seat.

Pang screamed, terrified she might be raped, and was gagged, blindfolded, and thrown into the back seat. The Weather Underground radicals overpowered Lennon as well, tied his hands with duct tape, and threw him in the trunk of the vehicle. Within less than a minute of exiting the taxi, John Lennon, inebriated and vomiting, found himself locked in a dark car trunk without his eyeglasses.

The car sped off, going north on Pacific Coast Highway. Twenty miles away, on a dark, deserted stretch of beach highway outside of Trancas, a member of the rebel group threw May Pang from the car.

It took her over two hours to find her way to an all-night liquor store with a phone. The manager, a volunteer member of the Malibu Sheriff’s Department, took care of the frantic Pang and helped her remember the physical descriptions of the assailants as best as possible.

With Pang’s assistance, deputies found Harry Nilsson shortly before daylight, still unconscious, in the driveway of the beach house. Within another hour, AP had broken the story.

***

Breaking News

APB107

-BULLETIN- (AP)

(LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA)—THE RADICAL WEATHER UNDERGROUND TERRORIST ORGANIZATION SAYS THAT MUSICIAN JOHN LENNON IS IN ITS CUSTODY. LENNON, A MEMBER OF THE POPULAR MUSICAL GROUP THE BEATLES, HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE TUESDAY.

05:18gAPD  03-15-74

APB108

LENNON-BULLETIN-TAKE 2

FBI DIRECTOR CLARENCE M. KELLEY CONFIRMS THAT BUREAU AGENTS BELIEVE THE COMMUNICATION FROM WEATHER UNDERGROUND LEADER BERNARDINE DOHRN IS AUTHENTIC.

 

Thrilling…huh?

To enter the contest to win one of three copies of Once There Was A Way, just leave a comment below and tell me what you believe may have happened (or wished had happened) if the Beatles had stayed together. One entry per person. Contest ends and winners will be announce at 9 a.m. on Sunday, December 24, 2017.

Good luck and happy holidays….and thank you to Christine at Diversion Books for giving my readers a spectacular holiday!

 

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Book Review: “Riding So High: The Beatles and Drugs” by Joe Goodden

Riding so High the beatles and drugs Joe GooddenRiding So High: The Beatles and Drugs by Joe Goodden is another book I came across on the Facebook group ‘Beatles Book Collectors’. This time the author himself posted about it, so there was no expectations on my part from a glowing reader’s review.

As most of you regular readers may know by now, I’m not a fan of the Beatles’ drug use. I know it happened because between their interviews, busts and lyrics, there really is no way to not know. Despite all this, I tried to go into this book with an open mind and will try to write the fairest review I can.

From Amazon:

Joe Goodden is a journalist, blogger and paperback writer living in south Wales. Formerly a senior online producer at the BBC, he is a music lover and founder of the Beatles Bible website (www.beatlesbible.com – “Not quite as popular as Jesus…”). Riding So High – The Beatles and Drugs is his first book.

Mr. Goodden did his homework for this book. His bibliography and footnotes are extensive and impressive, making the reader aware that this is not just another book to get his share of the Beatles’ pie! The author starts with the story that I had never heard of in all my reading, that occurred at the early days of the Fab Fours history when they were introduced to ingesting the Benzedrine strip inside a nasal inhaler in June 1960 by Royston Ellis. Goodden continues throughout this 3 part, 351 page book, hashes out the sometimes familiar and sometimes unknown stories of the Beatles (and their wives) ups and downs with various drugs throughout their early days, Beatles years, and solo careers. Also included is the story of Brian Epstein’s substance abuse battle and death from an overdose.

This book is very, very well written with few (if any) typos and an easy reading experience, but at first, I was easily bored and was having a hard time sticking with it. I felt like I was just reading a lot of the already over told drug stories (prezzies, Dylan introducing them to pot, etc.) and having to just force myself to continue. But like so many books before it, by the second half, the story and words seems to become their own telling and I felt like I was finally reading a new story…not just the same old, same old. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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