on 27 September 2009
Peter Doggett's incredible new book is essential reading for any diligent student of The Beatles. It charts the complex and frequently upsetting tale of the group's tangled business affairs, ably demonstrating how monumental decisions formulated in a haze of optimism and innocence ultimately ensured that John, Paul, George & Ringo were bound together forever.
Beginning during the haphazard formation of Apple in 1967 and continuing to the present day,`You Never Give Me Your Money' documents The Beatles' split more successfully than almost every other account. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the inner-workings of their business empire and the subsequent antagonism between Lennon/McCartney and McCartney/Harrison.
Rest assured, this is not a tabloid-style character assassination al-a Albert Goldman: it is an unbiased and refreshingly well-balanced account of the reality behind the biggest entertainment phenomenon the world has ever known. Doggett merely shows The Beatles for what they were: four incredibly talented but rather naive young men struggling to come to terms with the financial monster they had unwittingly unleashed.
Nor is `You Give Me Your Money' a dry tale of endless contract signings and boardroom meetings. Doggett ensures that the various deals and manoeuvres are explained in a clear, concise and readable fashion. He also offers a comprehensive examination of the individual Beatles' changes in fortune throughout the last four decades. Doggett illuminates this incredible story with a huge selection of rarely-seen interviews, particularly from Lennon and Apple Spokesman Derek Taylor, although every significant player is well-represented throughout with interesting and insightful quotes.
Whilst no-one here gets away entirely clean, Doggett's book only increased my admiration for The Beatles. It's frankly mind-boggling that they could stand to be in the studio together at all throughout 1968-70, let alone succeed in creating some of their most brilliant and enduring music.
`You Never Give Me Your Money' is a bittersweet testament to the ability of that music to transcend the harsh realities of business and emotional disintegration. It's also one of the few Beatles books in recent years to actually reveal anything new or interesting about the group. If you're serious about The Beatles and their incredible story, you have to read this.
on 31 January 2011
I loved this book and it gave an insight into a subject which many , including The Beatles own Anthology have skirted around the edges.
On reading it, it struck me that the break up was almost by default with the parties particularly John and Paul acting like hurt lovers with many things said and done designed to hurt the other into saying sorry first. This behaviour continued into their solo careers, with both protesting way too much that they didn't care about each other.
Reading Pauls infamous press release for the McCartney album it seems to me that he is engaging in a bit of brinksmanship which was interpreted by the Press as an announcement that he was quitting The Beatles.
He didn't actually say that but I think the weariness which had by this time set in on all sides resulted in nobody challenging this and so it was all over.
This may incidentally explain why he fell into such a deep depression after the split .
In retrospect much could have been done to keep everyone happy and a year or two during which the participants were allowed to engage in solo projects may well have saved the band .In the end however I'm not sure that would have been the best result.
It's like they ended at the right time and entered Mythology in a way The Rolling Stones never will.
Dont take my word for it. Read this Book.
Edit this post | Permalink
on 28 May 2013
Peter Doggett writes sympathetically to the Beatles plight of greedy business men who wanted to take their share of this groups wealth. What is fundamentally obvious is the only individuals who were trustworthy were their original support from Liverpool. The American business man comes across as raping them of their wealth by suing and counter sue. It actually drove a wedge between these four talented individuals.
It also probably affected their health to be honest long term especially George who was the most sensitive. It's a shame they were not looked after, but to be honest when Brian Epstein died they were orphans to the bad world of greed.
They were also a media juggernaut the likes that had never been seen in the last century and they were pioneers in learning the ropes of taxation, patents, copyright etc etc.
on 20 October 2009
I can't help but endorse the reviews already posted - this is an excellent book, detailing the complicated and protracted business affairs of The Beatles, both during the giddy days of Apple in the late 60s through to the 70s and beyond. If it sounds like a dry summary, you couldn't be more wrong. The narrative is brisk & filled with detail that will satisfy most followers of Beatles lore. Above all, it is a hugly sad story as well, showing just how far four people who survived in the eye of the hurricane during Beatlemania drifted apart during the 70s, descending into petty, petulant squabbles as the lawsuits & counter-lawsuits dragged on during the process to disentangle the Apple empire. Conversely, it also offers a glimpse as to how close The Beatles came to reuniting during the mid-1970s when relations thawed.
The only criticism of the book (& it's a small one) is that jacket for the book must rank as being one of the dullest I've seen - it doesn't exactly 'shout' from the bookshelves!
on 17 January 2011
I must have read well over fifty books on The Beatles, but if I had to pick just five I'd pick:
Love Me Do by Michael Braun (the earliest look at the group as a serious musical force)
Hunter Davies official biography of The Beatles (a bit flawed, but he WAS there so it's important)
Mark Lewisohn's Complete Beatles Recording Sessions (for a fascinating look at just how they did it)
Iain Macdonald's totally unsurpassable Revolution In The Head (an incisive and informative song-by-song guide)
...and this one. Peter Doggett's book starts with The Beatles getting near the end of their own long and winding road and continues through the post-Beatles years with all the personal and business triumphs and tragedies that ensued. It's wise, informative, impartial and almost Yoko-input-free (but read the chapter notes for a juicy little snippet at the end!)
on 18 March 2011
I thought I knew most things about the Beatles. I've been a fan for thirty years or more, and have read pretty much everything about them. This new book managed to come at a well worn tale from a completely new perspective, and shone a penetrating light onto the whole Apple saga and the band's complex business relationship, that had them all in a tangle for many years after the band itself had broken up.
Well written and insightful, I'm not sure about Doggett's sources, but he appeared to me to be both credible, objective, and unbiased. It was a riveting read, and helped me understand things even better than before, particularly the early seventies and immediate post break up time.
It seems even more plausible that the fabs would have reformed at some point, according to Doggett, but Yoko got in the way initially, and then later of course, it was never to be, after Lennon's untimely death.
Highly recommended, the best Beatles book since Revolution in the Head. I'd callthis is the first '21st Century Beatles book', as it seems to have been able to mop up so much of the last 20 years too into a cohesive sweep, and retell this wonderful, captivating story from a new perspective - quite an achievement.
on 7 April 2010
There seems to be no end to the world's appetite for books about the Beatles. Especially biographies, which is odd when you consider that the Beatles have been mostly badly treated by their biographers. Philip Norman's 'Shout!' is sour, impatient and spoiled by Norman's evident contempt for McCartney; Ray Coleman's 'Lennon', although full of original research, is wrecked by Coleman's hero-worship of his subject; Chris Salewicz's McCartney biog is perceptive and well-written, but spends most of its length on the first 20 years of McCartney's life and practically skips over the Beatle period; Chris Sandford's McCartney book is gossipy and rather light; Albert Goldman's attempted demolition of Lennon has sunk back into obscurity; Bob Spitz's group biography is, by all accounts, wearyingly long and boring; and Geoffrey Giuliano's 'Revolver' is, so far as anyone can tell, pure fiction. I haven't read Philip Norman's 'John Lennon', although based on Norman's earlier performance I'm not sure I want to, and while Beatle fans everywhere are looking forward to Mark Lewisohn's giant three-volume biography, I don't think that the more literate of us expect that it's going to have the same level of critical insight as Richard Ellmann's 'James Joyce' or the rich wit of George Painter's 'Marcel Proust'. So far, Jonathan Gould's 'Can't Buy Me Love' is the only biography of the Beatles in which the quality of the writing is worthy of the subject. But Peter Doggett's book about the Beatles' collapse and afterlife (or afterlives) is a fascinating read, if not a book that exactly inspires you about the resourcefulness and resilience of the human spirit.
The trouble with books about the Beatles is that as long as the book focuses on the music it's liable to be inspiring, but the Beatles' actual lives are - like most people's - pretty sad. Doggett's book is especially so, because of the way it focuses on the splits and disagreements within and around the band. Nobody comes out of it very well: Lennon, especially in the last two years of the band, behaved with culpable fecklessness, jetting off around the world with Yoko and releasing albums of bad free improvisation when he should have been taking back his own responsibility as self-styled bandleader; McCartney, forced into the unwelcome position of boss, handled his own power clumsily, lashing out at Apple staff and alienating his bandmates; when Harrison wasn't being self-righteously pious he was having hissy fits about how Lennon and McCartney didn't take his songs seriously enough, even though he seldom bothered to present them properly to the band; and Starkey just waited glumly for the whole sorry drama to play itself out. The Allen Klein debacle saw the band rip itself apart, and then it was all lawsuits and sniping at each other in interviews until Lennon and McCartney managed to patch up their friendship in the mid-70s.
Even after Lennon's death, which helped bring the remaining bandmates closer together for a while, the legal problems persisted. A suitably symbolic end to the story is the fight for the Apple brand: decades ago, the mighty Apple Corps sued a tiny computer company and made them promise never to dabble in music, but thirty years later Apple Computer have bought the name and the trademark off the much-humbled Apple Corps, and lease it back to them. Apple Ltd. now pays Apple Computer for the right to use its own name.
The last ten years of the Beatles' afterlife have not, on the whole, been tremendously happy. Harrison's too-early death is yet another premature Beatle fatality. Not even the most nihilistic goth bands have been so death-haunted as the supposedly sunny Beatles: Lennon & McCartney each lost their mothers while still in their teens; Stuart Sutcliffe, brain haemorrhage; Brian Epstein, overdose; Mal Evans, shot by LA police; Lennon himself, shot by a nutcase; Harrison, dying of cancer only a couple of years after being stabbed multiple times by another nutcase; Linda McCartney, dead at 56; Maureen Tigrett, Ringo's first wife, the cheering 'Mo' from Let It Be, dead at 48. (One might add Neil Aspinall, dead from cancer at the relatively young age of 66.) Violence and premature death swirl around the Beatles in a way that makes G.G. Allin look like a wannabe.
For all that, it's a wonder that the Beatles aren't more miserable. McCartney finally got rid of that pesky, moany second wife in a way that gave him a mild flaying in the tabloids; the increasingly grumpy Ringo seems to be bored of being fab. Doggett's book is valuable for its honest look at the short-sighted squabbling that has accompanied the last forty years of Beatledom, but you'll want to go back to the music after you've finished, because if this book is anything to go by, there is nothing very enviable about being a Beatle.
on 30 July 2012
I read this book while on a cruise and when I woke up in the morning the first thing I could think about doing wasn't exploring the cities that I was visiting, eating at the fabulous restaurant on board or trying out a new activity but reading this book. Yep, it was that good, and I'm not exagerating.
A great read for anybody who considers themselves a fan of good music i.e. The Beatles. It narrates the events leading up to and after the split perfectly.
Haven't got a bad comment to say about the book, only that I wish it was a little longer!
This a detailed study of the financial affairs of The Beatles before and after their final split and of their many and varied courtroom tussles. On the face of it this does not sound a particularly promising read but in fact nothing could be further from the truth.
This book is a real page turner (or button presser I suppose we Kindle folk should say). I laid in bed reading it for several nights long after I would normally be fast asleep and in the land of Nod. That said, this is a book for Beatle fans first and foremost. Although it is exceptionally well written and could hold an interest for those not well versed on Beatle affairs such people would not perhaps get the full benefit of it.
If you are have an interest in the Beatles and want to know more about their break up and the tangled mess that was their monetary situation then this is the book for you. If you are an accountant or lawyer then you will enjoy it even more. Yet if you are none of those things, not even a Beatle fan, then this book is still a fascinating read and well worth the paying for.
on 19 July 2010
This is a well-written and well thought-out history of the Beatles decline and disbandment, covering in moderate depth the legal tangles, wrangles, resolutions in the 1970s, and subsequent skirmishes over the custodianship of the Fab Four's fortunes and legacy brand value up to 2009. I'm not sure if Peter Doggett has uncovered anything that fans of the singing scouse quartet would not already know, but he does touch on some interesting 'what if's. For instance, how much was the band's cohensiveness compromised by McCartney's desire to explore new creative directions that he (earnestly) felt would reinvigorate its work.
The narrative is woven around several warts-and-all accounts of the boys' erratic and often self-destructive behaviour - so avoid this book if you prefer not to know the worst excesses of their personalities in and away from the studio. It is, after all, easy to overlook the fact that all four were only in their mid-to-late twenties while being subjected to huge pressures by fame and expectation.
As per usual, Yoko Ono and Alan Klein get fingered for their parts in the Beatles' fragmentation, but on reflection it perhaps seems that Brian Epstein and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi should shoulder a share of the rap. The former for not managing his protégés' business affairs more capably, and thereby fostering the fault lines that would rupture following his death in 1967; and the latter because he exposed the Beatles to new levels of self-awareness that caused them to question the necessity and value of the group experience. Ironically, as he advised his famous disciples to meditate their egos into abeyance, Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison appear to have become even more self-centred, inwardly-focused, and demanding.
One curious anomaly about this book: although there are several references to Beatles bootlegs, I found no mention of the Bootleg Beatles, the tribute combo who, arguably, for the last 30 years, have done much to keep the spirit of the foursome's finest compositions alive for ensuing generations.