Tag Archives: Pattie Boyd

Guest Review: “A Women’s History of The Beatles” by Christine Feldman-Barrett

This is a guest review by Amy McGrath Hughes for a new Beatles book that is being released today – February 11, 2021.

A Women's History of the beatles Christine Feldman-Barrett

For all the terminology associated with being a female fan of The Beatles, I’m happy to say that “aca-fan” is one I believe needs more press. Accordingly, Dr. Christine Feldman-Barrett’s newly published ‘A Women’s History of The Beatles’ (Bloomsbury, 2021) seeks to inform a wide, multi-generational audience that may not wholly understand the role of women in ‘Beatlefandom.’

The definition of “aca-fan” or academic fan stems from Feldman-Barrett’s research into how we define the span of women (either first generation or beyond) who were deeply affected by The Beatles impact on their lives. Through countless interviews that range from women who saw the band during their brief lifespan or who discovered them through recordings and film or from family members, Feldman-Barrett brings into focus the multi-layered emotions felt by each discovery and life-changing course of action.

However, Feldman-Barrett begins by discussing The Beatles unique understanding of the female fan, especially those they befriended in Liverpool. These girls were their stalwart supporters at a time when ‘young women’ were still expected to finish school, get married and raise a family. Although many did go down that avenue, so too did many seek to break out of the norm, establish an identity and pursue a career. The Beatles in many respects, through their performances or correspondences, helped them to achieve what was considered a fairly lofty, nearly unattainable goal. In return, these working girls from Liverpool (who the group considered friends) set the pattern for years to come: whether they were fan club secretaries (like Liverpudlian Freda Kelly) or journalists (such as the Evening Standard’s Maureen Cleave), these smart women were there from the start and stayed the course helping to spread The Word.

The Beatles also broke rank with how they chose to interact with an audience and the choices of songs they played. While there is considerable knowledge about their upbringing and how their generation viewed women’s role in society (as noted above), the stage presence they achieved through showcasing ‘girl group’ songs (The Shirelles, The Cookies, The Marvelettes) gave them a devoted female following amidst the perception of the rough and tumble atmosphere of club-going, heretofore thought to be a taboo ritual. Although these perceptions proved to be barrier-breaking, Feldman-Barrett ironically notes that although The Beatles showcased these songs to a wide audience, their eventual stratospheric rise in effect caused the demise of this genre.

Another interesting angle that Feldman-Barrett explores is the internal relationships of The Beatles: most notably with Astrid Kirchherr in Hamburg and then their early pairings (Cynthia Powell, Maureen Cox, Pattie Boyd, Jane Asher) and consequently as the band starts to disintegrate, the rise of the two most prominent partners: Yoko Ono and Linda Eastman. How these two strong female personalities become inextricably tied to their spouses’ outlook on women’s role in society as the 70s begin is examined in detail. Ono in particular was and has been unfairly portrayed in the media and Feldman-Barrett seeks to rectify that trope in these pages.

The dominant narrative that permeates this history though, are the multi-generational women who Feldman-Barrett interviewed; as either a first generation fan (one who was there during The Beatles lifespan) or into later years and even past the death of John Lennon, what comes across is the same passionate involvement they all have: whether they became professional musicians during the 60s (such as the all-girl Nursery Rhymes and The Pleasure Seekers who fought against stereotypical male-dominated ‘rock bands’) or parlayed their interest in The Beatles into a professional vocation (as tour guides in Hamburg, Liverpool and New York City) or as Feldman-Barrett points out, pursued higher education in the actual study of The Beatles, via university courses devoted to their cultural impact on society, and pop culture in particular.

These women gained tremendous insight into what had been up to that time (and even into the 70s, 80s and 90s) a love of The Beatles that moved past the mislabeling of ‘hysterical screaming teenager’ or ‘obsessed fan’ and have turned it into their life’s work. ‘A Women’s History of The Beatles’ is a deep dive scholarly approach that is informative, thought-provoking and should create more open dialogue not only for academia-minded individuals, but also for those who seek unique perspectives on how The Beatles shaped their (and our) generation.

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The Beatles in India” by Paul Saltzman

Beatles in India Paul SaltzmanThe Beatles in India by Paul Saltzman is 104 pages of the author’s unplanned encounter with the Beatles, their wives, girlfriends, Donovan, and Mike Love at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India in 1968. This book was originally published as a limited edition in 2005, but was revised and rereleased on February 13, 2018. I picked this book up while I was at the Beatles’ White Album Symposium at Monmouth University in November. Paul Saltzman was also there and I must admit that I’m sorry I didn’t get him to sign this when I had the chance.

Though mostly a picture book, the first 16 pages of this book are a Foreword by Pattie Boyd (along with a couple of her photos from the same time at the ashram), an Preface by Tim B. Wride (a photography curator for a museum) and an introduction by the author who talks about how he ended up at the ashram with the Beatles. Mr. Saltzman’s story about how he ended up in India and at the ashram at the same time as the Fab Four is actually quite interesting. The author could have chosen to just put out a collection of photographs, but instead invited us into his life and also the life of the Beatles while they were trying to escape the press and pressures of fame. His casual conversations with John, Paul, George, Ringo and their significant others shows us another side of the people we think we know from the stories we’ve read before.

I’m sorry to say, I wasn’t as impressed with the photos as I thought I would be. Don’t get me wrong…they’re beautiful photos, but I’ve seen them before. Now they’re just larger and not on a computer screen. The author/photographer also seemed to spend a lot of time photographing John and Paul, but I guess we need to also cut him some slack because he wasn’t actually a photographer, just a guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time with a camera.

The book ends with the Afterword by Donovan Leitch and anyone who knows me or read my review of Donovan’s autobiography knows I’m not a fan of his and as I suspected he seemed to have a hard time not making the whole thing about himself…again! Paul Saltzman says he was a soft spoken guy, but if you ask Susan Shumsky, the author of Maharishi and Me, she’ll tell you a different story about meeting Donovan during her time at the ashram. But I digress…

All in all, this is a beautiful book with a great story of a heartbroken man with a camera stumbling upon the biggest celebrities in the world in 1968 and becoming their friends for a short time. If you’re a collector of Beatles books, you can buy the special limited edition for $325 on the authors website…or you can buy the super deluxe limited edition for $875. I think I’ll stick to my $35 copy. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

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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: “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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