Tuesday, 29 November 2022

The Beatles, Hunter Davies


In spite of the end to end coverage of the world cup, I have managed to finish a book.  This one, as you know, was published back in the 60s when the group were at the top of their game.  It has been reprinted and this one came out in 2017 so it covers, at the end, what happened at the end.
A big thick book, divided into sections  on each of the 'Fab Four,' both as they grew as a group and as they developed later, once 'Beatlemania faltered.
Now I appreciate my reader is too young to have known what is was to sit at the rear of a cinema while 'A Hard Days Night' was the film on show, watching both the film itself and the screaming wee girls who rose up every time Pauls face appeared on screen.  My objection to their hysteria was lost in the distance between them and I and the noise from the 'teenyboppers' themselves.
Males preferred John anyway.
We begin in Liverpool where the 'Quarrymen' began.  'The Cavern,' the 'Casbah,' and then the time spent in Hamburg are all offered in detail, detail according to the four themselves.  This included interviews with their families, who on the whole were supportive but soon fed up with the fans.  The tales appear quite open and as honest as possible considering the situation.  A situation in which every word uttered was interpreted and misrepresented by the media.  It was no surprise they hid away from the crowds at concerts, for many years.  It is no surprise they avoided interviews and if they allowed them refused to take them seriously.  The realisation that all questions were the same as last time, limited regarding what they did, wore, ate, and 'How long will it last,' brought a cynicism regarding the world outside these four.  
The touring years, from Transit vans to aircraft, hotel to hotel, did not allow for enjoyment much.  The cost of fame is not something most of us could endure.  It is too their credit they treated it all as a game, refusing to take anyone seriously, and distrusted all outsiders who wished to use them.
After the years of struggle and learning they progressed to an unwilling London.  Once however, they became big London was very welcoming.  London and the world and eventually the realisation touring had to stop.  They were tired, not writing new music, and needed to hide away in a recording studio.
New tracks, no directions, and the death of Brian Epstein, probably accidental, and then the trip to India with the Maharishi.  I think the same about him now as I did then.  George was already into Indian music, his mother loved it, and Paul and John influenced to some extent.  Ringo less so.
The 1968 book ends with them all in large houses (costing £20 - 40,000 at the time, around £2 -5 million today) appearing happy with their lot, at a distance from the fans, though the fans had also grown up by this time, and I thought a wee bit bored with life.  Having pots lots of money (don't mention 'pot.') does not make you happy if you have little purpose in life.  At the time they were still together and working on music.
Soon after things changed.
Yoko appeared, her outlandish Avant Garde style spoke to something in John.  His wife soon disappeared, John went into a new life, as indeed all were doing, and the 'Apple' concept went off its head!  Soon arguments, falling out, court cases and the results of bad management took their toll.  A split was required and the 'Beatles' came to an inglorious end.  
As time passed of course John was shot dead in New York,  George died, and Paul and Ringo survive, but must be about 80 now.   They continue, somewhere, money in the bank, living still the life of Reilly, but always considered a 'Beatle first, though this may not be how they consider themselves.
I liked this book, easy to read, very simple in places for the fans sake.  Good pictures, good interviews, but a sad feeling is left at the end.  Not only the break up of  a group of lads who were only being themselves playing music, but the wealth did not bring peace and love.  Even those we never knew around them, loyal and true, did not always end happily.  Some became successful one got himself shot dead in Los Angles.  And all who remained either died in due course or are old, like most of the fans.
The music remains however, music that opened up changes that may not have come without their innovations.  Music which attempted to change the world, but in the end offered just another failed enterprise.  We can now pick and choose which music to like to suit ourselves, the early 60s or the late, the music at the end of the Beatles or the individual tracks and groups that followed from them.  So much good music, much teenage angst, much outlandish and often written in a jumble of thoughts that needed more time.  
I will now go to my room with Beatles wallpaper, turn off the side light with the Beatles lampshade, get into my Beatles sheets under the Beatles duvet cover, and watch the football while listening to 'Rubber Soul,' or 'Sergeant Peppers.'
This books is good for all Beatles fans, well worth a long read. 

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