Tag Archives: John Lennon

Book Review: “Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine” by Joe Hagan

Sticky Fingers Jann Wenner Joe HaganFinally! A book that could hold my attention for entire week. Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan was published on October 24, 2017 and is 511 pages strong.

As the story goes (and was told to me by the guy who recommended it to me), Jann Wenner asked writer Joe Hagan to write his biography. Wenner opened up to Hagan with over 100 hours of interview time and allowed him access to all his personal archives, diaries and scrapbooks. But after Joe finished writing this very detailed tome, Jann refused to authorize it because Hagan had dug so deep (he interviewed hundreds of friends, family and colleagues about Wenner), the story was a little too intimate for Wenner’s liking.

This isn’t just the story of Jann Wenner, the narcossistic, egomaniac who drank, smoked, snorted and slept his way through the last 3 decades of 20th century. It’s also the story of his wife Jane, photographer Annie Leobovitz, writer Hunter Thompson and so many more people that were vital in the success and creation of Rolling Stone magazine. This book tells of the Wenner’s hidden homosexuality, his wife’s affairs with both men and women and all the casualties of their sometimes reckless lifestyle.

Hagan interviewed the likes of Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Yoko Ono, Billy Joel, and many more who survived a love/hate relationship with Jann Wenner, but knew the importance and success that came with not only getting interviewed for Rolling Stone, but gracing it’s cover. If you want to know why it took for more years for Paul McCartney to get into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame after he gave the speech at John Lennon’s induction, and why Stella wore a t-shirt that said, “About Fucking Time!” to the ceremony, you’ll find out the story in this book.

This is a book that true rock n’ roll fans are not going to want to miss reading. Not only does it verify all the stories of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of the ’70’s, it tells of the glamour, glitz and excess of the ’80’s, and the inside and personal story of Jann Wenner’s relationship with John Lennon and Yoko Ono from not only Wenner’s perspective, but that of Yoko Ono’s too (May Pang gets only a few mentions). And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “When Life Sends You Lemons, Make LENNONAID: What John Lennon’s life did for mine” by Kaya John

When Life Sends You Lemons, Make LENNONAID: What John Lennon's life did for mine Kaya JohnWhen Life Sends You Lemons, Make LENNONAID: What John Lennon’s life did for mine by Kaya John was recommended to me by a friend. In fact, I was asked if I would be willing to interview the author for my blog. Instead, I think a review of this self-published autobiography/memoir is in order.

As a publicist for several self-published authors, I’m generally very lenient when reviewing self-published books. I believe everyone has a story to tell and should at some point in their life share their story with the world. I went into this book with the same attitude and early on came to the decision that it would be very hard to rate someone’s memoir, let alone judge their life story. Kaya’s story is that of a broken and abusive childhood and the only thing that brought her joy was the music of the Beatles and John Lennon. I could relate…until page 131.

I somehow feel quieter inside now that Cynthia has finally let it all out. That needed to happen. We needed to know that about John and Cynthia really needed to tell it. I was always so afraid of what her truth might be. I understood about the coldness and the temper but I must say I was relieved to find out he only hit her once, I was really afraid he could have been a real constant physical abuser. So he wasn’t as bad as I though he might be.

Did she really just justify all of John’s abuse because he only hit his wife Cynthia once? Is she excusing the physical abuse against May and Yoko too? I found this one paragraph incredibly disturbing. But the author didn’t stop there.

Ms. John talks excessively about her parent’s flaws, illnesses and addictions that led to her not so happy childhood, but only hints at her own flaws including addiction and a failed marriage at some point in her life. She also goes on to lecture about the importance of becoming a vegetarian or vegan, even sinking so low as to say about those who eat meat: “And I wonder what the mutilation, torture, rape, confinement and murder of conscious, intelligent animals is doing to their soul.”

The last 26 pages of this 180 page book are all about the “Beatles friends and family” that Kaya has met over the years and all of her best memories of attending all but one Fest for Beatles Fans, making this book read more like a blog than a book. In fact, I would recommend she take up blogging instead of writing books…

I couldn’t rate this book even if I wanted to…sorry.

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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: “Lennon in America” by Geoffrey Giuliano

Lennon in America Geoffrey GiulianoA couple weeks ago, I was digging through a box of books about the Beatles that I had in search of something to read when I stumbled upon Lennon in America , written by Geoffrey Giuliano and published in 2000. I was surprised to find this book because the author is quite controversial especially in one of the Facebook groups I belong to – Beatles Book Collectors. Though I haven’t kept up with exactly why people don’t like his books, I decided to take a look-see for myself and hoped that I could read this book without prejudice and write a fair review. Here it goes:

According to the subtitle of this book, 1971-1980, Based in Part on the Lost Lennon Diaries, Mr. Giuliano was at some point in time in possession of some of John Lennon’s written and audio diaries which he used extensively in writing this book. I tried to contact a friend to see if I could find out what diaries these were since I had heard of the diaries that were in Fred Seaman’s possession for a short time after John’s death. And… there are the diaries that were stolen that in the past several years that recently turn up in Berlin, Germany. I’m sure someone who reads my blog will be able to clear this all up.

This book, though easy to read, can be a bit choppy. I got the impression that the author was taking information from the diaries and other people’s books and just rewriting it. In fact, the bibliography reads like a Who’s Who of the most popular books about John Lennon, including books by May Pang, Fred Seaman, Cynthia Lennon, Julia Baird, Pete Shotton, John Green, Albert Goldman, etc.. What made me come to this realization was the continual contradiction of events, even within the same paragraph without explanation. I can only guess that without actually researching the events, the author was just trying to cover all bases by including all the stories from everyone who was there. Mr. Giuliano also writes heavily about John’s sex life. In fact, the entire 21 page prologue of this book is about every story ever told about John’s homosexual tendencies. I guess sex sells, doesn’t it?

I kinda left this book not knowing what to believe and more confused about John’s life than I ever was before. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 2 out 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: “David Bowie: A Life” by Dylan Jones

David Bowie A Life Dylan JonesI’d love to say I’ve been loving this book and speeding through it’s pages, but that would just be an outright lie because I’ve been laboring to read it for over a month! I choose this book free as part of the Blogging for Books program because I was a (late to the game) fan of Bowie’s music in the 80’s. I couldn’t get enough of Jazzin’ for Blue Jean.

David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones is a 521 page biography of…well…David Bowie. But it’s not your typical biography. Dylan Jones interviewed over 180 friends, family, colleagues, lovers and rivals of David Bowie. The list of contributors appears at the end of the book as the ultimate who’s who list of the rock and music industry, including Angie Bowie, Tony Visconti, Ricky Gervais, Paul McCartney and even Bowie himself. All the interviews were then broken down and placed in chronological order and presented as an oral history of the life and death of the man born as David Jones on January 8, 1947 in Brixton, U.K..

Though I started out enthusiastically reading this book, about a third of the way through it I got the feeling that a lot of the people interviewed for this book were the ultimate Bowie fans. The praising of everything he wore, sang, said or designed became overwhelming. Occasionally, the author throws in a quote from someone that pretty much amounts to, “David Bowie was a self-centered asshole!” and then the praise would start all over again. For me, it got to be too much.

At the same time, I can’t completely knock this book. This is one of the most complete and informative biographies that I’ve ever read and it really gets at the heart and soul of who David Bowie was and you will learn a lot about him in between the constant adulation of his genius and his sexual prowess.

I haven’t given up on this book yet and I will continue to read it until the end. I’m especially anxious to get to the part about his association with John Lennon and the writing of the song, “Fame“. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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