THE BEATLES by Bob Spitz

THE BEATLES

The Biography

KIRKUS REVIEW

In time for the 40th anniversary of “Paperback Writer” comes this thousand-pages-give-or-take-a-few, overblown account of the already obsessively chronicled Fab Four.

The Beatles come in for some rough treatment, à la Albert Goldman, at the hands of Spitz (Shoot Out the Lights, 1995, etc.), who seems taken only with the always affable Ringo Starr. To his credit, he gets the origins of Ringo’s nickname right, something many of the 500-plus books on the Beatles haven’t managed. To his credit, too, he works with a broad range of reference materials, correcting the record at points, amplifying it at others, and here and there making news: It may surprise many readers, for one thing, to know that the Sgt. Pepper sessions were energized by cocaine, and to learn of the band’s ruthlessness in conquering the Liverpool music scene—which included stealing Ringo from a rival group. Still, Spitz stacks up demerits. Like Goldman, he seems to work from a deep dislike for John Lennon, who was, by most accounts, nowhere near as demonic as Spitz has it; the dislike deepens when Yoko Ono, self-absorbed dragon lady, comes into the picture (“she jumped into the smoky spotlight, clutching the mike with both hands and screeching into it like a wounded animal”). Of Lennon the drug-dependent bad boy, Spitz writes: “With his painfully thin frame, gaunt face, stringy, unkempt hair, and bloodshot eyes, John looked demonic, like a zombie had claimed his tormented soul.” Paul McCartney and George Harrison have it easier; they’re merely egomaniacal and spoiled. Coupled with pet peeves, a tin ear (do gargoyles caper?) and some curious notions (that, for one, Harrison professed “traditional Christianity”), this obese book seems less the “definitive biography” Spitz proclaims than another exercise in ax-grinding for profit.

For completists, a necessity. Others will want to consult Hunter Davies’s The Beatles, which, though 38 years old and problematic in itself, is a pleasure to read.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 2005
ISBN: 0-316-80352-9
Page count: 928pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2005




JOHN LENNON AND BEATLES BOOKS:

Indie BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES by Al Aronowitz
by Al Aronowitz
Indie THE BEATLES by Craig Cross
by Craig Cross
Nonfiction THE BEATLES by Bob Spitz
by Bob Spitz
Nonfiction IN MY LIFE by Debbie Geller
by Debbie Geller

MORE BY BOB SPITZ

NonfictionDEARIE by Bob Spitz
by Bob Spitz
NonfictionTHE SAUCIER’S APPRENTICE by Bob Spitz
by Bob Spitz
NonfictionSHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS by Bob Spitz
by Bob Spitz

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionGOT THAT SOMETHING! by Allan Kozinn
by Allan Kozinn
IndieTHE BEATLE WHO VANISHED by Jim Berkenstadt
by Jim Berkenstadt
NonfictionGEORGE HARRISON by Olivia Harrison
by Olivia Harrison