After watching the Beatles’ 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan show last year on a PBS pledge-drive, I found myself bitten with the Beatlemania bug. Since I wasn’t alive in the ’60s, I didn’t simply know by osmosis that the Beatles made their amazing cultural impact and extraordinary musical strides in just 7 years. Not only that, the Beatles did all that by the time they turned 30.
So I just had to read about the Beatles and what led these four lads from Liverpool to create such a powerful, enduring musical body of work.
I started with Bob Spitz’s The Beatles: The Biography, an 800+ page book that chronicles the Beatles’ childhoods, inspirations, dedication and dissolution in a very readable format. Some have taken issue with some discrepencies in the text, but most Beatles fans feel it has become the best bio on the band out there. (Feel free to add your own thoughts on this matter.)
Well, 800 pages was clearly not enough, so I checked out a recent biography, Paul McCartney: A Life by Peter Ames Carlin. That one I raced through just to find out about McCartney’s post-Beatles life, but overall it was a weak rehash with little new insight and a possible spurned agenda (Carlin did not get access to his subject).
Then, I read Philip Norman’s John Lennon: The Life, another 800+ page opus that I thought did a thorough treatment of Lennon’s extraordinary and too-short life.
I am also currently reading Magic Circles: The Beatles in Dream and History by Devin McKinney.
Any book group looking for interesting rock biographies or with any interest in the Beatles would do well to try to Spitz Beatles biography or Norman’s book on Lennon. Please, please share (or should I say “please, please help”) any other fantastic music biographies or memoirs your group may have tried.