on 24 October 2002
Hunter Davies is a great writer who has been lucky enough to write about some fascinating subjects. But none better than the Beatles.
His research centres in 1967-8, with the Beatles at work on the White album and it's a sort of glossed picture. For example, he doesn't go into John's infidelities - he is still the family man here - nor does he divulge all he knew about Brian Epstein, though he deals with this in the add ons to a later edition.
Yet even with this, he spent such a long time with them - and they obviously like him - that you get really intimate details. He is best on John and George -I think- and finds Paul the hardest to get to grips with.
This isn't the perfect biography, as he concedes: it's a bit like he never quite got on top of the mountain of material he accumulated, but it's totally readable and rich in detail. If you are interested in the Beatles, this is a gold mine, and it catches something of the Sixties London atmosphere too.
Even more to the point, loads of great books have been written about the Beatles since, "Revolution in the Head", "Shout" etc.etc. but no one except Davies had the opportunity to get this close.
You can read Lennon interviews or the Miles book on McCartney, but they are biassed. Davies captures them as they really were in the latter stages: his portrait is both perceptive and affectionate. A terrific book.
on 10 October 1998
Because this book was the only authorized biography ever written of The Beatles and also because it was written at the time, rather than researched & compiled years later, I felt that I could believe what I was reading. It was facsinating reading comments from John before the breakup when he still enjoyed being a Beatle, rather than the cynical type of quotes from after all the animosity came into their relationships.
on 26 February 1999
This book is the first Beatle biography that I read ( the "only authorized biography of the Beatles" subtitle catching my attention). I must say, all of the ones I have read since have dissapointed me compared to this book. Its awesome!! At first, the author talks about himself to establish his credibility, and its worth it. He talked to each of the Beatles privately and spent several days in each of their homes, and stayed in contact with them after the break up. The one thing that really sticks out in my mind is a conversation that Mr. Davis had with Mr. McCartney five years after Mr. Lennon's death. Paul called him to talk about current events and to establish truth to several myths going around, and it was really wonderful. I would suggest this to everyone who is looking for a biography of the Beatles!! THIS IS DEFINATELY THE ONE TO READ!!
on 6 October 1999
A frank and comprehensive biography of the Fabs, which even that bastion of frankness (J. W. Lennon) found an uncomfortable read. But for all that, don't expect a book full of gossip and poorly researched heresay; this is, for my money, the ultimate book about the Beatles.
Granted unique access to the group at the height of their creativity, Davies tells the stories of their respective backgrounds, collated with excellent first hand accounts form themselves, their family and friends.
Mostly written without the contemporary benefit of knowing "the end of the story" Davies nevertheless successfully chronicles a group on the edge of deep artistic implosion, whilst cleverly never letting you forget that they first and foremost were very close friends.
Latterly updated with the facts etc. beyond 67/68 and an interesting if brief run through solo careers, this is a fascinating biog, well written, thoroughly researched, and definitely not, as a momentarily bitter Lennon remarked "a whitewash."
If you want to know about the Beatles then read this classic before all else