They acquired the nickname "the Fab Four" as Beatlemania grew in Britain over the following year, and by early they had become international stars, leading the "British Invasion" of the United States pop market. From onwards, the Beatles produced what many consider their finest material, including the innovative and widely influential albums Rubber Soul , Revolver , Sgt. After their break-up in , they each enjoyed successful musical careers of varying lengths. McCartney and Starr, the surviving members, remain musically active.
Lennon was shot and killed in December , and Harrison died of lung cancer in November Comprehension: The band started in True b. False Beatlemania is an album. False Lennon died of a disease. False The band broke up in What are idioms? And how can idioms help you become a fluent speaker? Discover a list of the most widely used idiomatic expressions! Phrasal verbs are generally used in spoken English and informal texts. Check out our list of hundreds of phrasal verbs classified in alphabetical order.
Do you want to provide emphasis, freshness of expression, or clarity to your writing? Apr 30, Duffy Pratt rated it really liked it Shelves: criticism , history. The opening chord of A Hard Day's Night. George, on a twelve string, plays a Gsus chord.
On a twelve string guitar, the bottom four notes get doubled at the octave, while the top two are doubled in unison. Underneath, Paul plays a D. The result is a perfect collaboration, and a beautiful example of the The opening chord of A Hard Day's Night. The result is a perfect collaboration, and a beautiful example of the Beatles ability to come up with something that is both chaotic and suberbly balanced all at once. If you've heard it, you remember it, and you know what I mean. If not, then why are you reading this far? Spitz describes this chord in some detail, and quite differently. He says George plays a G7 chord with an added ninth, and a suspended fourth, and leaves it at that.
I bring this up for two reasons. First, if Spitz gets this wrong, then it casts into doubt the accuracy of much of his "definitive" biography. This example is important for me, because I have always cared most about the Beatle's music, and much less about all the surrounding stuff. Second, Spitz attributes this chord to George, instead of highlighting what a brilliant group effort it was.
That's about the only time in the book that George gets put in the forefront, and on this rare occurrence, Spitz gets it wrong. This book is mostly about John, then Brian Epstein. Paul is still a large figure, but not as much as the first two. George is a strong supporting character, and Ringo hardly gets much attention at all. The amazing thing about this is that the amount of attention a person gets is inversely proportional to his likability. John is a dick. Spitz tries to attribute much of this to his various drug addictions.
But he was being a dick to his audiences even before the drugs became an issue. It's pretty amazing that such an inconsiderate asshole could write and perform such brilliant, sensitive music. Well maybe not so much. I have a whole list of artists whose work I adore, but who I would never want to meet, and Lennon doesn't even get close to the top of this list.
Epstein didn't interest me back then, and he doesn't interest me all that much now. I guess its worth seeing how he screwed up so many deals for the Beatles. But his character seems almost stereotypical. If someone made him up for a novel, I think most people would roll their eyes at the cliches. And that's pretty sad for him. Paul comes across as controlling, a perfectionist, self-centered, terrible to women, but mostly a decent mate to his buddies.
Except then there is the point where the new manager has Paul's longstanding assistant fired. The guy worked for Paul basically all the way back when they played in the Cavern in Liverpool, for over seven years. And when the manager had him fired, Paul refused to even return the guy's phone calls. So, in the end, Paul showed no loyalty at all. But his music, when not corny does anyone actually like "Someone's Knocking at the Door"? George is painted as insecure, but growing and spiritual. By the end, he is at least acknowledged as a good song writer.
But as the Beatles retreated into the studio, John and Paul treated him more and more as a hired hand. And Ringo is barely seen here as a full Beatle. He doesn't enter the scene until the book is half done, and he doesn't fit. He treats his wife well, and cares about her.
And he seems like a nice and stable person. What Spitz does show about Ringo, is how important he was for their live sound. He wasn't the most technically accomplished drummer, but he had an uncanny musical sense and the ability to fit himself in perfectly. The book inevitably tries to answer two questions: First, why the meteoric rise? Here, I don't think the book comes up with any good explanation. In Outliers, Gadwell attributes the rise to the Beatle's time in Hamburg, where they put in the 10, hours needed for mastery.
That certainly helped them, but there were lots of other groups with their own 10, hours. In the end, I think the Beatle's were just a black swan. There really isn't any explaining the sudden mass hysteria that surrounded them. If it had not happened to them, it probably would have been someone else. But I have to admit that its awfully difficult for me to imagine some others in the same role. The second question is why the break-up. The book mostly blames John's envy of Paul, and Paul's need to control things.
Add to this the drugs, and their seclusion, and the break-up becomes almost inevitable. The book also lays out another scenario. The Beatles became a truly great live band with all of their experience in Hamburg and at the Cavern and on tour through England. Once they hit the big time, their shows topped out at 35 minutes or so, instead of several hours a night. They played in huge venues to girls who threw jelly bellies at them, and screamed over the music.
No-one listened, and the Beatles couldn't even hear themselves. The shows were unsatisfying and became more and more dangerous to them. So they quit. But the energy, and their first love, came from the live playng. Once they retreated into the studio, George and Ringo were no longer as much a cohesive part of the group. And Paul and John could go more and more their seperate ways.
So they lost their energizing source, and they lost the feeling of being a band. And that led to them breaking up. Spitz doesn't put it in so many words, but that's what I was left with. In the end, the fans broke up the Beatles. View all 8 comments. Jan 14, Caroline rated it liked it. Rating for the quality of the book: 4 out of 5 Rating for how much I enjoyed the book: 2 out of 5 I realized as I was finishing this book that I wished I hadn't read it. Don't get me wrong - it was well-written and well-researched and I learned a great deal I didn't know about the Beatles.
And therein lies the problem. There is a whole lot I learned in this book that I wished I didn't know. I mean, I knew there was drug use. I knew there were countless affairs. I knew that none of them were standup Rating for the quality of the book: 4 out of 5 Rating for how much I enjoyed the book: 2 out of 5 I realized as I was finishing this book that I wished I hadn't read it.
I knew that none of them were standup human beings. But I guess I didn't know just how bad things got. John, in particular, I found to be utter repulsive. Incredibly talented, true, but reprehensible. I think he is the most selfish person I have ever read about this extensively. Not that any of the rest with the possible exception of Ringo - who knew? But John's treatment of his wife, child, manager, and bandmates was awful. I could continue with the adjectives, because there's a long list, but I won't, don't worry. I think one of the reasons I feel this way so strongly is there is no redemption for anyone at the end of the book.
The book ends with the end of the Beatles, when everyone was behaving badly. I think that if I'd been able to follow their lives a little longer, they generally clean up their acts a little bit and become a bit more tolerable. However, I understand that this is outside the book's purview.
It just would have given me a bit of catharsis. I will give a tip of the hat, though, to the last line, which manages to re-instill in me a bit of the respect that I've always had for my favorite band. These are the closing words from Spitz regarding the Beatles: "And from them, a flood of song and love and pain and beauty, a flood that cascaded out of the Cavern and Hamburg and London town, into the world, a flow that pushed aside what had come before, that cleansed and battered and in the end nourished.
Nov 29, Mike rated it liked it. A threshold book. The writing is only fair--in style not quite historical, not quite journalistic, and not quite pure tabloid-y entertainment--and the substance is frankly too thin to warrant eight-hundred plus pages of reading for all but the most maniacal of Beatle maniacs. For good or bad, I am such a one. And so I raced through it over a long weekend. It doesn A threshold book. In an effort at contextualizing the story and following good historiography, Spitz provides more than enough details of early Liverpool, of each of the families of the Beatles, and their early school experiences.
I remarked to my family that I was on page and the Beatles had yet to make their first single, Love Me Do. Despite the read, the Beatles as a phenomenon are still mystifying. Regardless of a near day-by-day account of every significant decision of the members of the band and their select inner circle, the meteoric rise of Beatlemania remains a mystery. Nor, finally, can the avalanche of tawdry stories of personal lapses and petty feuds satisfactorily account for their dissolution at the height of their creative powers.
The book did nothing to diminish my musical appreciation of The Beatles, but I came away admiring only Ringo more. Not only do I now better appreciate his musical contribution to the group, but I came to appreciate him as the sole likable member of the group.
Ringo alone seemed to appreciate that the stars aligned with fantastic good fortune in his favor, and that the fame and money that came with that fortune were not entitlements. And as for Paul and John, their respective musical talents were genuinely unmatched by anyone else in the 20th century, Dylan included.
Except for by one another. In the end, the only thing larger than Beatlemania was their egos. Shelves: biography , entertainment , music , nonfiction , This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It's not a perfect book, but I think this is a decent enough Beatles biography. It's certainly a long one. I can't believe I just read an page book. It took a little under a month to read.
The good: Spitz really captures the insanity of Beatlemania and the craziness that came with being a Beatle. With all the strange goings-on during the latter part of their career, it's amazing that they pulled it together enough to create such magic on record. Spitz touches on all the biggies - Hamburg, Sg It's not a perfect book, but I think this is a decent enough Beatles biography. Spitz touches on all the biggies - Hamburg, Sgt. Pepper, Paul is dead, Ed Sullivan, the trip to India. The detail is overwhelming, although it starts to lack in the last part of the book. John seems to be the 'main character' in the story.
I realize he and Paul were the two geniuses in the band, but I was under the impression that The Beatles were four men. Not one, not two, but four. I really could have used fewer depressing details about Brian Epstein although they help you understand the tragedy of his life and death and more details about George Harrison and Ringo Starr!
Ringo, in particular, comes across in this book as simply a hired hand who was brought out for cheeky laughs and studio drumming. He was certainly much more than that! Also, some parts of the book could have used much more detail. No discussion of the second-side medley of Abbey Road? Come on. The ugly: Reviews on Amazon. This is the first Beatles book I've read, so I know not what is fact and what is not. However, out of some pages, Spitz must have got something right. Is his book any more flawed than any of the hundreds of other Beatles books?
Also, when reading nonfiction, it is a good policy to take everything you read with a large grain of salt. Even first-hand accounts will be biased. The best thing to do is read more than one book to get all possible sides to the story. The presence of errors, though, keeps me from scoring this book higher. Did I enjoy it? The Beatles aren't portrayed as good people. When possible, Spitz will point out a flaw over a virtue.
The end of the book, of course, is a downer.
But the behind-the-scenes stories and the mostly-good details of the creation of the music make this book worthwhile. Last thing I'll say - I consider this to be a beginning to my quest for Beatles knowledge. I will not stop here, nor should I. View 1 comment. Dec 09, Amie rated it did not like it Shelves: non-fiction.
Inconsistent, riddled with errors, inaccuracies and wrong information. Lots of mistakes. Such as photos from and being labeled as being at the Star Club, which didn't open until ' States that George met Pattie Boyd on the set of "Help! Just a couple of examples. Terrible book. And when the list of errors was pointed out to the author, he just insulted those who were telling him.
Isn't that nice? View 2 comments. Jul 02, Meg rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , rock-lit , biography-memior. Still finishing this up, but it's certainly the most comprehensive Beatles bio out there, and very well-written and readable. The best chapters are probably the school years and the Hamburg period which the author fleshes out with much more detail than I've ever encountered. He also has a talent for making it feel immediate when you are reading, with great descriptive passages that give you a sense of what the dives in Hamburg were like and just how grueling the Beatles early touring schedule wa Still finishing this up, but it's certainly the most comprehensive Beatles bio out there, and very well-written and readable.
He also has a talent for making it feel immediate when you are reading, with great descriptive passages that give you a sense of what the dives in Hamburg were like and just how grueling the Beatles early touring schedule was for example. Their drug use is also chronicled in more detail I don't think I knew that the Beatles smoked their first J with Bob Dylan. Not a book for someone just looking for the Beatles story you get the full family tree of each Beatle , but fans who have read several Beatles books will find compelling new vignettes here, and be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the prose.
Aug 29, Paul Bryant rated it liked it Shelves: beatles.
Even Ringo got tired of the bickering, so it was a relief to all when they went their separate ways. During the year , they made several trips to London and auditioned for various labels. The publicity and the Beatles' American tour-opening performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, the most popular entertainment show on television at the time, paid off handsomely. They played in huge venues to girls who threw jelly bellies at them, and screamed over the music. On a twelve string guitar, the bottom four notes get doubled at the octave, while the top two are doubled in unison. True b.
I was expecting a whole lot of fun to be had in the style of Bob's outrageous biography of the other Bob, Dylan. In that one, Spitz makes up whole conversations, assumes things when he hasn't got any facts or sources, jumps into Dylan's head to riff on what he "probably" would have been thinking, kicks him when he's down, and all in all has a right good laugh.
But in this Beatles tome disappointingly he plays it completely straight. So it comes off as pretty good, pretty comprehensive, nothing that you didn't already know but you can probably give half of your other Beatles books to Oxfam now because it's all in here. Feb 05, Molly rated it it was ok. This is an excruciatingly poorly written book that still manages to tell a great story. Tiresomely exhaustive near the beginning, it forces you to wade through much flowery language and such unnecessary flourishes as tracing John and Paul's respective ancestry back to Ireland and a discourse on the Liverpool shipping industry; given how much of it is filler, it's unconscionable that the book runs nearly pages.
Quotations are unforgivably mangled, with far too much fussily inserted in bracket This is an excruciatingly poorly written book that still manages to tell a great story. Quotations are unforgivably mangled, with far too much fussily inserted in brackets or sic 'd; numerous quotations are plunked into the text totally without attribution. A former music manager, Spitz gets the music business abundantly well, which may be why the best drawn character by far is Brian Epstein with the glaring exception of Epstein's homosexuality, with which Spitz evinces maximum discomfort, handling it as if with tongs.
He does not, however, get music or musicians. Attempts at critical explication of the Beatles' catalogue are ham-handed at best and are noticeably less frequently attempted as the book wears on. Having met the boys as children, we never really get a picture of their adult personalities or what drove them as artists. In contrast to the detailed early picture, more and more is glossed over as the Beatles' lives and careers become more complex.
It is as if Spitz were writing the book from beginning to end all at once and got more and more tired, until finally he couldn't go on, and the book ends before the release of Let It Be. Nonetheless, even in purely superficial chronicle, the story of the Beatles is a great and powerful one, and this fan, at least, put on Abbey Road and cried while reading the epilogue.
Mar 04, Akash Ahuja rated it really liked it. There are such great moments in here, and as a music and production nerd, I was in love with how well Bob writes their recording sessions and explains the songwriting process in a reasonably accessible way. Many other moments are also written so well- travels and German shenanigans and agent meetings and everything. The thing that I am most impressed with is the ridiculous level of detail that went into researching this book, which was a seven year project.
John gets three chapters and some change devoted to his childhood, actually reaching back some generations to how his grandparents met and lived, with a surprising amount of detail. Paul gets about one chapter, and then George and Ringo really only get enough to bring you up to speed with how they ended up meeting each other.
The book also screeches to a halt mere pages after the release of Abbey Road, and it almost feels like Bob is out of breath as he tries to explain how the band broke up. We then get a page an a half describing all four of their lives, which feels very lopsided compared to the pages that are written before the Fab Four come together. It has its faults, but in the end, it made me re-listen to the entire Beatles discography, so it did something right. Sep 15, Rebecca rated it really liked it.
This Beatles biography now considered the "definitive" one is very well-written and full of a lot of colorful, interesting detail. As a long-time Beatles fan, I thought I was already pretty familiar with the Beatles' trajectory, but I learned many things I hadn't known about the boys before.
And a lot of it I kind of wish I had remained ignorant about. While this book gave me a new appreciation for the Beatles as musicians, I felt really disappointed and even a little disgusted at who they were This Beatles biography now considered the "definitive" one is very well-written and full of a lot of colorful, interesting detail. While this book gave me a new appreciation for the Beatles as musicians, I felt really disappointed and even a little disgusted at who they were as people. They also did all kinds of things in the studio that no one had ever tried before. In terms of their professional skill, I couldn't have been more impressed.
But, alas, the Beatles -- especially John and Paul -- were not very nice people. Most of them Ringo being the pretty consistent exception were extremely greedy, self-centered, egotistical, impractical and naive with money, materialistic, ambitious, misogynistic, and unkind. They all treated their wives and "friends" very crappily.
And John didn't just experiment with drugs, like the other three did, but became a full-on violent alcoholic and heroin addict, to the point that he could barely function and write music anymore. And while I had gone into the book with a pre-conceived dislike of Yoko Ono, I had no idea just how self-indulgent, bossy, manipulative, and superficial she was until reading in detail about how she derailed John's musical and personal life.
So my recommendation of this book is ambivalent. On the one hand, it has everything you could want to know about the Beatles in it, which is wonderful in many ways. And the author couldn't have done a better job of presenting his material. But on the other hand, you'll never be able to think of the band with quite the same level of respect again. And at pages, it's kind of a beast to get through, so you'd have to be really committed to finish it.
Oct 23, Rich Meyer rated it really liked it Shelves: read-in One of the better rock biographies I've read as of late, this one really gets down into the history of the Fab Four and all the dirt and eccentricities that came out of the Beatles, Beatlemania, and the eventual personality clashes as they grew older.
Personally, I've never quite understood the popularity; until Rubber Soul and Revolver, their music was pretty staid and lackluster - some good riffs and licks, a good backbeat, but nothing out of the ordinary. I know it was their Beatlemaniac arri One of the better rock biographies I've read as of late, this one really gets down into the history of the Fab Four and all the dirt and eccentricities that came out of the Beatles, Beatlemania, and the eventual personality clashes as they grew older.
I know it was their Beatlemaniac arrival that "changed" pop music all over the world, but until they started experimenting in the studio, I didn't really hear anything that special. But when they started raising the bar, they opened the floodgates for everything and everyone out there, as they legitimized rock music as art.
Bob Spitz's book covers all aspects of their careers, from their individual life histories in Liverpool, the myriad early groups and gigs they performed there and in Germany, to Pete Best, Stu Sutcliffe, Brian Epstein, George Martin, and all the major figures in their lives, and to the strangeness: The drug use, Yoko Ono, and the blatant fear for their own lives they had when performing on some tours. This is definitely a good read for any Beatle fan, and I think it provides a good look as to how the pop music industry used to work originally and post-Beatles , which shows a marked contrast to the pap of today.
Jan 13, Joy H. Their lives went through so many stages. This audio makes one realize how hectic their lives must have been. The reader was Alfred Molina, whose voice and expression give the story a mysterious and dark atomosphere.
Believe it or not, I never realized before this that the word "beat" in "Beatles" was related to the "beat" of music. In fact, they first spelled the word as: "Beatals". It occurs to me that I should read the above-linked Wiki pages which, now that I've heard this audio, might have more meaning to me, since I now have a certain perspective on their lives. But who has time? Dec 07, Paul Dinger rated it really liked it. It's all Yoko's fault the Beatles broke up and Bob Spitz does take the time to explain why. Actually, she just brought out the discontent that was already there.
My cousin once told me success was the kiss of death to a rock band. The money comes in, you began to believe your own press, etc. What made the Beatles great is that they never rested on their laurels, but that also brought about their demise. They reached a pinnacle no other band will ever reach. They stopped touring, they stopped rel It's all Yoko's fault the Beatles broke up and Bob Spitz does take the time to explain why. They stopped touring, they stopped releasing singles, and yet their popularity never died. They were above the ratings and the charts. Yet, they weren't above themselves.
This book makes for compelling reading. Yoko does come off the worst, but why not? She did latch on to the John Lennon train and never truly got off. What would she have been without him? She changed him, this is true. But not always for the better. Their relationship however is compelling for all of its disfunction. John was a portrait of contradictions.
I won't listen to my Beatles and John Lennon records in the same way again. Feb 21, Jason Coleman rated it really liked it Shelves: musique. This was a Xmas gift that sat on my shelf for a few years before I gave it a chance, and what do you know, it's really good. Spitz did an absolutely hellacious amount of research, but the book has to survive as a narrative, and does.
I have to point out that Spitz, rather incredibly, uses the adjective "horseshoe-shaped" three times in just two pa This was a Xmas gift that sat on my shelf for a few years before I gave it a chance, and what do you know, it's really good. I have to point out that Spitz, rather incredibly, uses the adjective "horseshoe-shaped" three times in just two pages. It comes during the American tour and is used to describe: 1. Shea Stadium 2. Elvis Presley's couch It gets a little compulsive after awhile; you could practically make a drinking game out of it.
The way Spitz tells it, America must have seemed like a giant horseshoe to the Beatles. And I guess it kind of was. Aug 21, Chris Q. Murphy rated it really liked it Recommends it for: beatle fans with a lot of time on their hands. Apr 25, John rated it really liked it Shelves: music.
One annoyance: the author had the habit of ending chapters with such portentious cliches as: "Little did they know all that was about to change", which were doubly ill-conceived since anybody shelling out the cash for this book already knows what's coming next.
Feb 12, Amelia Smith rated it really liked it. A great, thorough read on the world's most famous band. Spitz started and ended this hefty biography with the same word. Well-rounded and well done! No new information here, but it served well to pass the time driving to and from work. Feb 15, Sandra Ross rated it really liked it. I grew up after The Beatles had already disbanded, so most of what I knew about them was from the music they left behind when they were together.