Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Beatles: The Biography -- by Bob Spitz

Well, I realize I haven't posted for a while. Have been doing a lot of genealogical research, and I get carried away with this.

Meanwhile at the local library, I picked up The Beatles: The Biography -- by Bob Spitz. Here is the capsule review from Library Journal:

"Surprisingly, relatively few of the hundreds of Beatles books over the years comprehensively document the band's story. Spitz (Dylan: A Biography) claims to have written the definitive work, and it is certainly far more detailed than Philip Norman's Shout!, the last serious attempt by an outsider to tell the Beatles' tale. Spitz spent several years cobbling together the story from new interviews with old Beatle friends and hundreds of existing sources (including discredited John Lennon biographer Albert Goldman's archives, which may raise eyebrows). The band's family histories and early years are told with flair and fairness in unprecedented depth-this is the book's biggest contribution to Beatles scholarship. But once Beatlemania hits, Spitz loses steam: the group doesn't even invade America until well over halfway through the narrative. As familiar stories of the Beatles' prime years take over, sloppy, head-scratching errors start to creep in; certain stories ingrained in Beatles legend, such as how they arrived at the finished recording for "Strawberry Fields Forever," are ignored. With the band sinking into dysfunction, Spitz relies more heavily on sources that take a negative tone, and the book sputters to an abrupt end, ignoring the lawsuit that Paul McCartney filed against the others to dissolve their partnership formally. Despite these flaws, The Beatles emerges as the most complete chronicle of the Fab Four to date, at least until Mark Lewisohn finishes his massive three-volume Beatles biography in 2016."

I haven't finished it, but tend to agree with this review. It is hard to put down when it is describing the childhood of the Beatles, the Quarrymen, and the Hamburg era, but it does seem to run out of steam as it gets towards 1966 thru 1969. Still, the first part of the book is fascinating, and it does explore the Beatles, as a phenomena, pretty thoroughly.

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