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 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 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.
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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 12 January 2010
Triggered by the recent arrival of the remastered music, and having too much time on my hands, I have been reading Beatle-books all of a sudden and for the first time. So far I have devoured: "Can't Buy Me Love" - Jonathan Gould, "Read The Beatles" - Edited by June Skinner Sawyers, "Magical Mystery Tours: My Life With The Beatles" - Paul Bramwell, "The Act You've Known For All These Years" - Clinton Heylin, and this. Heylin's content was misrepresented on the cover (I thought it was a book all about the Sgt Pepper album and The Beatles!) and his prose often bordered on the unreadable. I've made a note to avoid his other work. All the others are warmly recommended except - sorry mate - Paul Bramwell's biography, which failed to engage me as I had hoped it would. Apart from it's vitriolic truthfullness (?) or at least his frankness on his experience of Yoko Ono, I can't remember anything else about it already. "Read The Beatles" was an enjoyable anthology, and Jonathan Gould's "Can't Buy Me Love" would make a great companion for Peter Doggett's new study; slip from that straight into "You Never Give Me Your Money", and a curious reader would have a great introduction to the whole Beatles saga.
But for many of you who may feel you are familiar enough already with the story of the Beatles as a band - but you're thirsty for more - this would be the one to go for. As others have said - revelations on [nearly] every page. But whereas Mark H. reports more "admiration" than ever for the guys, I experienced an increase in pity, and sympathy, for these four individuals lost inside the maelstrom of their own success, losing touch with each other to varying extremes and fluctuations, losing perspective and placing trust in unworthy places. And the money they lost and spent on lawyers?! - Wow. In a different universe they could have fed the starving of many dozens of Bangladeshi-like crises. Entirely gripping if you feel any loving connection with the phenomenon of The Beatles.
Doggett strikes me as an excellent writer; I was never frustrated by his style. Non-hysterionic if there is such a word. And only once did any doubt arise in my mind about the accuracy of his comments. When he is discussing the 1987 CD release of Sgt Pepper as a "20th Anniversary" event in Chapter 9 and suggests "In 1967 a simple advert in the pop papers had sufficed to announce the album's arrival. Twenty years on there was a multimedia promotional circus...." Well, I have no personal recollection of either launch, but I recall from other accounts that there was a lot of promo work done in 1967 ahead of Sgt Pepper....(a track a day on US radio stations? etc. etc.) But no matter - I am no Beatles historian and I am more than delighted to recommend Doggett as one of the most convincing.
Some of the individual snippets of gossip about both McCartney and Lennon's behaviour, in particular, serve well to present them as the same flawed human beings as the rest of us, occasionally showing outrageously arrogant traits. Money is no guide to human dignity, sure enough. But I liked the balance struck between all four of the Beatles, and the way we are kept in touch with many/all of the other key characters in the story.
There is a pleasant balance, too, across all aspects of the post-break-up story; this is certainly no detailed boring account of finances and lawsuits. In fact, I was looking for more detail on a few occasions, such as: what exactly did Klein get up to that finally turned his three Beatle clients against him? I remember he tried to calm down Lennon's political meanderings, but there must have been more shenaningans involved than that.
A great read though. Ignore my tendency to nit-pick. And I like a good punch-line, which Doggett does not fail to deliver. His final sentence left me with a smile on my face and nodding sagely in agreement. You can't ask for more than that. As a novice armchair reader of the Beatles literature, this - and Jonathan Gould's equally fine contribution - will be remaining on my shelf. I'll enjoy reading this again one day. I can't say fairer than that.
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 3 April 2014
As an account of what went wrong with The Beatles as a group and Apple Corps as a venture you won't find a more insightful book than this. Based on as much factual evidence and personal interviews as the author could muster, Peter Doggett writes a highly entertaining account of the collapse of both a rock/pop group and a financial empire, complete with petty squabbling and a look at the personalities behind it all.
Read this in conjunction with Lewisohn's 'The Complete Beatles Chronicle' and you'll have a much better view of what went on behind the media smokescreen of the time which only hinted, often untruthfully, at the stories surrounding the biggest sensation to hit pop music in the '60s.
This book is a great read. The Kindle edition makes it difficult to follow the footnotes as these are split into both chapter notes and actual footnotes which are, unfortunately, lumped together at the end of each chapter. As such the footnote references are difficult to match up with the text which is why I've deducted a star. However this doesn't spoil the flow of the narrative, which is the main thrust of Doggett's book, and I enjoyed it immensely.
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 5 July 2016
I've read plenty of Beatles books and biographies (not all of course as that would take several lifetimes) and seen most of the documentaries, but this is as close to unputdownable as the very best of those IMO. Granted, a lot of the material covering the financial/legal/relationship/business breakdown affecting the group from 1969 onwards is covered to different degrees in a lot of the available material, but by focusing exclusively on this perspective over the years 1969-75, this book surely stands as an essential volume for any student of the group and their individual paths in the immediate post-Beatles aftermath. It also offers a rounded (pun intended) and convincing portrayal of the casually demonised Allen Klein, which is surely worth taking into account, since three of group thought he was the bees knees for a good period of time.
"You Never Give Me Your Money: The Battle For The Soul Of The Beatles” concludes with, “The soul of the Beatles turned out to reside not in the boardroom of Apple Corps or the bank accounts of four multimillionaires, but in the instinctive, natural grace of their songs. Their collective genius created something that not even money could destroy.” It’s the perfect end to a fascinating book as, for all the jaw dropping feuds and legal battles that characterised much of the aftermath of the Beatles, Peter Doggett never loses sight of what made them so special in the first place.
This is only the second book I have read about The Beatles, the other was the magnificent "Revolution In The Head: The Beatles Records and the Sixties" by Ian Macdonald which is an indispensable guide to each and every track and therefore what made them so great in the first place.
This book, by contrast, is a grimly compelling look at the downside of fame - and a global level of fame that few people can ever get to experience. I suppose with the staggering amount of money at stake it is no surprise just how many people and organisations wanted a slice. This, and the byzantine contracts and companies set up during their brief career, meant that simply walking away when they got sick of each other was never an option. Instead there followed decades of feuding, legal battles and lawsuits between The Beatles, Apple, EMI/Capitol, Allen Klein and his company, numerous other individuals, even a lawsuit by Paul McCartney against the other Beatles to finally extricate himself from the group. It’s all here and it is absolutely fascinating.
Meanwhile the love/hate relationships between the four ex-Beatles, and their partners - especially Yoko, continued along with endless questions about a possible reunion (which nearly happened more times than I’d realised).
The book opens with Lennon’s murder and it’s also explored later in the book. This seismic event had huge implications for those that were left, and even his death could not stop the clamour for a reunion.
Ultimately what emerges here is just how damaging the experience of being a Beatle was to the four men in the eye of the hurricane, and how it would always define and haunt them no matter what was to follow. A gripping, enthralling record of the grotesque side effects of global fame and enormous riches.