Subtitled, “John, Paul, George and Ringo : 1970-1980,” this is really a follow on to the author’s “Fab Four FAQ 2.0” book, which also dealt with the solo years. In effect, this is all the things he left out and deals with a myriad of details, which will be of interest to fans – but probably not the casual reader. Robert Rodriguez is the author of several books about the Beatles, including Fab Four FAQ (about the Beatles years), Fab Four FAQ 2.0 (solo years up to 1980) and the brilliant, “Revolver: How the Beatles re-imagined Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
The Seventies were a fascinating time for Beatles fans, with solo careers taking off (and floundering), lawsuits, feuds and the four Beatles in and out of each other lives throughout the decade. Was John really considering writing with Paul again, until he reconciled with Yoko? Yes, probably. Would the Beatles had reformed? Probably not, although solo projects may have reunited them, such as Ringo’s solo albums. Would Paul have abandoned Denny Laine without a backward glance? Not to be unkind to poor Denny, but probably yes. However, despite all the interesting possibilities and projects of the Seventies, it is nowhere near as well documented as the Beatles years, which is a real pity. As Mark Lewisohn stated once, there is a whole book in just George Harrison’s life during 1974 (one which I would certainly like to read) and the mid-Seventies saw the four solo Beatles closer than they would ever be again. There are many reasons for this; including legal and business ones.
So, what does this book offer? As well as a timeline of those years, it also looks in detail at many people and events during those years. These include musical events, such as promo films, album covers, unreleased tracks, bootlegs and the “new Beatles” touted throughout the decade (not fit to lick their boots...) – from those compared to them (nowhere near...), inspired by (ok, probably...) and even suggested as replacing them (hmmm......), such as ELO, the Bay City Rollers and Squeeze (I remember even now how much that one annoyed me) and others which we have since forgotten about completely. There is also a pretty comprehensive account of all the lawsuits that took place during that decade – just think that everyone sued everyone else and you pretty much have it covered – and John’s legal battle to stay in the States. There are brief accounts of those they worked with the in the studio, acts associated with the individual members, business associates, friends, lovers and gofers. Obviously, each person and event looked at, spins into different stories. So, for example, there is quite a lot about Fred Seaman and the legal battles which resulted from his thefts from the Dakota after John’s death. Lastly, there are those of importance to the Beatles who died in that decade – from George’s parents, both John and Paul’s fathers, the ill fated Jimmy McCulloch, Pete Ham and the terrible loss of Mal Evans – plus his missing memoir, which is the ‘Holy Grail’ to Beatles fans.
This is a fascinating book to dip into – or even devour if you are as obsessive a fan as I am. However, I do feel it would have little interest for the casual fan and is not really a book which will give you a flavour of those years, although there is lots of detailed information. Really, this is for fans who already know a great deal about the band and will understand the significance of something happening in a particular year. That said, the Seventies are sadly ignored in most books about the band (I really hope Mark Lewisohn does turn his mind to the decade at some time in the future, as a really comprehensive account is needed to cut through all the myths and rumours that abound). It was an important decade and anything which helps bring perspective to the accounts of the solo Beatles during this time is welcome.