IT WAS TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY. . . by Derek Taylor

IT WAS TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY. . .

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A press agent for pop stars recalls 1967. Taylor worked for the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, Chad and Jeremy and other stars of the time, so his anecdotes of rock are name-droppingly compelling, if as superficial as the usual fanzine twaddle. For instance he first sampled LSD when it was ""put in our tea without complaint or permission by John Lennon and George Harrison."" Because Taylor was there, he can report such trivia as the fact that the only celebrity to refuse permission for his picture to appear on the cover of the Beattles' Sgt. Pepper album was the Bowery Boys' Leo Gorcey, who wanted too much money. Taylor also informs us that among the hundreds of applicants for the Monkees was a young Charles Manson. These gossipy items have of course appeared elsewhere, and when Taylor attempts more than his own recollections, his book weakens considerably. There are many oral history-type quotes, often very vague, poorly edited and chosen. For instance, Allen Ginsberg is cited as proclaiming that the Sgt. Pepper album was ""one of the few opera triumphs of the recording century."" What, if anything, he might have meant by this is left unexplained. Even worse are the few pages devoted to politics, as if in an afterthought, to give the book substance. Taylor was clearly uninvolved in politics, and the best he can do is quote from Norman Mailer's writings on 60's radicals. Most of the present effort is, unsurprisingly, press-agent puffery, such as when Taylor recalls when he first proclaimed the Beatles ""the greatest group in the world."" As he was being paid to say just that, it is hardly the revelation he seems to think. Essentially trivial hype, and nearsighted in the extreme.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1987
Publisher: Simon & Schuster