Tag Archives: Liverpool

Bonus Book Review: “King Con: The Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age’s Greatest Impostor” by Paul Willets

Here’s another book review from my First to Read list, but if you’re an avid reader and love true crime or biographies, this book is excellent. King Con: The Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age’s Greatest Impostor by Paul Willetts is due to be published on August 7, 2018 but you can pre-order it now. It’s the story of Edgar Laplante who was born in the late 1800’s Rhode Island to white Anglo Saxon parents, who’s troubled childhood eventually landed him in a reform school, but did nothing to reform a man who would go on to be one of the greatest con men in the world!

Author Paul Willetts starts Edgar’s story in 1916, when Edgar is in his mid-30’s and living in California, but Willetts occasionally finds the opportunity to flashback to Edgar’s early years to help explain how he was to become one of the greatest con men in the world. And when I say world, I mean, America, Canada and Europe. After a long stint of traveling, singing and speaking across the U.S. claiming he was the famous Canadian Iroquois Indian athlete Thomas Longboat, Edgar would adopt the persona of Chief White Elk. As the Chief, he toured the U.S., Canada and eventually Europe, conning the unsuspecting out of money he claimed was going to go to American Indian causes in America, but instead was lining his pockets and paying for his extravagant lifestyle and drug & alcohol addiction. Along the way, Edgar would not only con two women into marrying him (one of which was half native American and one British), he would dupe two European contessas out of their fortune.

I couldn’t put this book down. Edgar Laplante’s life is so far out that you actually start to feel like the author must be making this all up and you’re falling for a con story yourself by believing that any one man could pull of what Mr. Laplante did. It’s an incredibly fascinating story that makes one wonder if someone could pull this off today with the technology and fast paced world we live in now? Oh, and if you need a Beatles connection, Chief White Elk did spend some time in Liverpool and stayed at the Adelphi Hotel. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Bonus Book Reviews

Book Review: “Lennon: The New York Years” by Foenkinos/Corbeyran/Horne

Well, Amazon got me again! While browsing online at Amazon.com, this book appeared as a Recommendations….

Lennon: The New York Years was written by David Foenkinos and Eric Corbeyran, illustrated by Horne and published on May 30, 2017. According to an article on NME.com, this graphic novel is adapted from a 2010 novel “Lennon” by French author David Foenkinos. After reading this book, there is a part of me that wants to see what the original was like.

This book is touted as “true biographical fiction”, as the setting is John Lennon laying on a psychiatrist’s couch talking about the ups, downs, joys and pains of his life. There are 18 sessions (chapters) in all. Now, I get that when they termed it ‘true biographical fiction’ they were probably referring to his regularly seeing a therapist that happened to also live in the Dakota so Lennon wouldn’t have to go out in public, but unfortunately, some of the fiction seems to have leaked out into Lennon’s life. Starting off with the tall tale that seems to still keep popping up, after long having been dismissed, that John was born during an air raid in Liverpool with the whistling and boom of bombs going off all around the hospital. You be the judge…

“The night I was born it was to the deafening sound of Liverpool being bombed by the Germans. I didn’t come into a life, I came into chaos. And I spent my whole life frightened. That night everything shook. Things fell from the shelves. A building fell down near us. Things had to happen fast so my mother had a cesarean.”

Artistically speaking, this book is actually a pretty nice book. The artist’s interpretation of this story is done in black and white in a 150 page hardcover edition. Comparatively speaking, I personally like the B&W rendition in this graphic novel better than Vivek J. Tiwary’s The Fifth Beatle, but I prefer the linen texture Tiwary cover over the smooth, scratch prone cover of this book. Your mileage may vary…

I leave you with the trailer to this book…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, graphic novel

Book Review: “A Cellarful of Noise” by Brian Epstein

My reading and review of A Cellarful of Noise by Beatle’s manager Brian Epstein has been too long in coming. This book was published in August 1964 and since I was born in July 1964 and was unable to read at the time, I think I have a firm excuse for being tardy.

I’ve known about this book for a very long time, but it was during the reading and review of Peter Brown’s book, The Love You Make, that I finally decided to invest in my own copy. These books don’t come cheaply. My first edition hardcover copy cost me $25 + shipping. If you’re not inclined to spend that much on a book, you can get a copy of A Cellarful of Noise on Kindle for $7.99. But I digress…

I had one trepidation about reading this book and that’s because it was ghost written by my arch-nemesis Derek Taylor. Anyone who has read along with my blog for any substantial amount of time will know that Mr. Taylor just gets under my skin despite the fact that everyone associated with him always writes very highly of him and his place in the Beatles organization. Still, I wasn’t going to let this stop me from reading what I consider to be an absolute must read experience for any Beatles freak!

To give you some background on the writing of this book, let me quote a paragraph from Peter Brown’s book:

The book’s entire interview and research period took place over a long weekend at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay in the south of England. On the first day Brian got through his childhood period without much trouble, but on the second day he started having difficulty telling Derek the story of his teens and early twenties.

At only 120 pages, this book is a short and abbreviated story of Brian Epstein, his life, career (with and without the Beatles) and his hopes and thoughts about his future, the future of the Beatles and his other artists. At some points, it seems to almost become a sales pitch for Billy J. Kramer, Cilla Black and Gerry Marsden since it was written so early on in Brian’s career as a manager, but still it is a very enjoyable read with a lot of stories I had already heard and some stories that were new and revealing to me (remember, I don’t consider myself a Beatles trivia expert, so a lot of tales are still very new to me). Brian, always being the consummate professional and purveyor of good manners, is kind throughout the pages and if he does tell any tales of arguments or disagreements, he’s sure to clear up any harsh exchanges with words of peace and harmony in the end. And even though I had my doubts about this book because of Derek’s influence in it’s pages, I’m led to believe that because of Brian’s inscrutable honesty in all manners, that he would have never allowed the release of any book that wasn’t a true story and depiction of himself or those around him. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Brian Epstein

In the news: “The Sixth Beatle” documentary

Interesting article about a new documentary about Sam Leach, a promoter in Liverpool in the early 60’s that helped the Beatles get their start. It would seem that author/historian Mark Lewisohn has taken exception to some of the content and has new been cut from the film.  Read the article here:

http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/the-wrap/article/Toronto-Doc-The-Sixth-Beatle-Tells-Fresh-9211950.php

What do you think? Is Lewisohn a hero or jerk? And will you be going to see the film?

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary

Book Review: “John Lennon: In My Life” by Pete Shotton

John Lennon: In My Life was written by John Lennon‘s childhood friend and original Quarrymen member Pete Shotton.  They met in 1946, when they were the tender age of 6 years old while John was living at his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George’s.  John and Pete would remain closed friends and confidants up until John’s death in 1980.  And anyone that knows anything about John Lennon, knows that long relationships of any kind were something very rare for Lennon, making this story unusual.

 

3

From the get go, the team of Shotton and Lennon (or as John would call them Shennon and Lotton) spelled mayhem wherever they went.  Two young boys with very strong personalities, blood brothers, came together, both encouraging each other antics…they were to keep both their parents and teachers on their toes.  Throughout their early years in Liverpool, both would be blamed for leading the other astray, all the while, pushing the limits and laughing their way through their childhood and teenage years.

tumblr_m1656sPLHs1qhnkvco1_500

I loved the honesty in this book.  Pete tells all the wildest and craziest stories from his and John’s days growing up in Liverpool.  Anyone that wants to know the very dirtiest of details about John, needs to own a copy.  This isn’t to say that the book is without it’s problems, especially when Pete seems to take exception to John’s dad and Cynthia’s mom both being supported by John.  I do believe this is what is widely known as the pot calling the kettle black and any good Beatles fans could tell you that the whole staff (which included Pete Shotton) at Apple Corps in 1968 were living the ‘high’ life off of John, Paul, George and Ringo!  Then again, the team of Shennon and Lotton were never known for the respect of parents or authority figures.

Kudos to Pete for telling the world when John whacked off for the first time and for telling us what John said REALLY happened in Spain with Brian!  And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beatles!

4beetle

3beetle2beetle

 

 

 

You can purchase a used paperback copy of In My Life for under $10 on Amazon or Half.com.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review, John Lennon

Concert Review: The Mersey Beatles w/ Julia Baird at Sellersville Theater

Mersey Beatles

How lucky are we?  An old friend of my husband’s invited us to join him and his wife to see The Mersey Beatles at the Sellersville Theater.  AND Julia Baird (John Lennon’s half sister) was there to introduce the band, sell her book “Imagine This” and do a meet & greet!  I reviewed Julia’s book last year and gave it four Beetles.  You can read that review here.  Also, I did talk with Julia about the book I’m reading for next weeks review…but you’ll have to wait until next week to find out her opinion.

05122016

The Mersey Beatles are just another Beatles tribute band.  These guys all are childhood friend who were born in Liverpool.  Sound familiar?  After realizing that they were never going to make it big as band and that they always got a great response when they covered songs by the Fab Four, they decided to create their own tribute band in 1999.  In 2002, they became the resident Beatles Tribute band at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and remained so for 10 years!

WP_20160512_019[1]So what makes this band stand out?  They do go through 3 costume changes with the early suits, then Sgt. Pepper’s and ending with Abbey Road dress.  They bring just enough on stage banter in their natural Scouse accents without over doing it and losing the audience in some silly over rehearsed skit.  At the same time, they will talk with the audience (they thanked the people who yelled out that they were killing it!) and they take requests.  And some of their harmonies are really going to wow you!

All in all, this was a great experience.  And I’m glad I got to see this band for the debut American tour.  Though they’re are probably boarding a plane right now to return to Liverpool, they will be returning WITH JULIA to the U.S. this July for a tour of the midwest!  And for that reason…

I rate this concert, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

4beetle3beetle2beetle1beetle

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under Concert Review

Book Review: Do You Want to Know a Secret?: The Autobiography of Billy J. Kramer

I don’t request review copies of new books too often.  I prefer to spend my own money so I don’t feel obligated to give a decent review in exchange for the freebie.  This time, it’s going to be difficult!

When I first got my copy of Do You Want to Know a Secret?: The Autobiography of Billy J. Kramer I noticed the page count was only 180 pages.  “Cool!”, I thought, “This will be a breeze of a read.”  I should have realized that the low page count would mean there wasn’t much sustenance to this autobiography.  I guess that goes along with Billy J. Kramer’s belief that after he leaves a stage, his life is his own and no one should bother him or invade his privacy in any manner whatsoever.

So, what’s in this book?  Well, Mr. Kramer marches nicely and neatly through his life explaining to us everything he hates and didn’t like about his career in the music industry.  He didn’t like Dakotas, George Martin’s production on his song, his manager Brian Epstein’s choice of songs, the screaming girls at the concert or the fans that mobbed him after the shows.  The only time I felt Billy J. was truly honest and interesting in the telling of his story was when he finally admitted to himself that he had a drug and alcohol problem.  Unfortunately, after the telling of that period of his life, he resorts back to his arrogant “I did nothing wrong…it’s everyone else’s fault” attitude.

If you’d like to know the basic story behind his Billy J. Kramer’s life and how much he worshiped the Beatles, then give this book a read.  If you’re looking to know stuff like where he fell in the chronological line with his 7 siblings, then you’re going to have to consult another source.  And for that reason…

I rate this book 2 out of 4 Beetles!

4beetle 3beetle

5 Comments

Filed under Billy J. Kramer, Book Review