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on 9 November 2013
Being a huge George Harrison fan, I was so looking forward to reading this. But within five minutes of skimming to a few of my favourite topics/events, I was shocked to see that a huge amount of the details, and even the structure in certain cases, has come straight from Wikipedia's Harrison album and song articles. (I know this because I'm the crazy person who's been expanding Harrison content on that encyclopaedia since January 2012!) It could be a coincidence, I admit. But: a) that would make a *lot* of coincidences, and b) the similarities just jump off the page.

* As an example, take pages 210-11 of this book and compare with two sections in Wikipedia's ALL THINGS MUST PASS album article -- the sections "Release" and "Reception". I believe this author takes the build-up/credibility points from Release; then paraphrases the quote from Robert Rodriguez that sits early in the article's Reception section; then (most obviously) repeats the same line of discussion as the article, through the inclusion of Rolling Stone's critique of the album, followed by the NME's, followed by Richard Williams' in Melody Maker and The Times.
* Loads of other examples: CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH article (under Rehearsals) vs this book's pages 224-25, which repeat details on Nola Studios rehearsals, Harrison's preliminary setlist, and Frampton's role; many other mirror images from Wikipedia's articles (on the concerts, the live album, related songs such as The Day the World Gets 'Round) appear through to p. 235 of the book.
* Or take the chapter covering the LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD album (starting on pages 238-39). It begins with a quote from Nicky Hopkins, followed by comments on Bangladesh activities stalling George's musical career; compare that with album article on Wikipedia, where comments come first then the Hopkins quote. (And much of the author's text on p 239 about the Van Eatons is straight from Wiki's Lon & Derrek Van Eaton article too, in my opinion.)

What especially flags this whole issue to me is that published works from Rock's Backpages and elsewhere -- such as that Disc & Music Echo interview with Hopkins, NME's 1970 album review, Circus Raves' piece on the Dark Horse tour, Bob Woffinden's NME reviews for DARK HORSE and 33 & 1/3, Rolling Stone's 1979 Harrison interview, Gambaccini/Rockweek 1975 EX TEXTURE track-by-track -- they're all sources that I personally have brought to Wikipedia (and paid for in all cases bar Gambaccini) for general, communal reference. More specific to a review of this book, with the majority of the Rock's Backpages articles, I have never seen them quoted or mentioned in any previous book on Harrison (or anyone else) - and I own an awful lot of books on Harrison, and the Beatles generally.

The similarities are not just with Wikipedia's album articles, I stress, but individual song articles also. I feel that this author's taken a large part of the Wikipedia album and song articles and added recent interview text. I realise that anything on a free encyclopaedia is just that -- free -- but what I find appalling is how closely he's aligned his discussions with those free works, as if they're the foundation for his text and in many cases, much more than that.

I don't make these claims lightly. I'm a musician, and any friend of George's is a friend of mine. But I'm also a professional book editor and I know the tricks that, unless they're checked during the editing process, slip through at the expense of readers, who have shelled out for what this book's dust jacket claims is a "rich, insightful account". Not impressed.
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on 23 October 2013
For someone who was part of the Beatles and had an eventful solo career, George Harrison has not been well served by biographers. Having read them all, this must rank as one of the best. The author has actually spoken to folk who were part of George's life and has certainly researched previously published material in great detail. The author gives an honest assessment of George's music during the solo years and is prepared to explore some of the darker aspects of Harrison's life.

It had me dipping back into my record collection to refer to albums not played in a while and gave me some insight which got me reassessing the merits of many songs and albums. An excellent book about a very complex man torn between the spiritual and the material worlds.
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on 14 November 2013
This is a superb read, painstakingly researched and beautifully written. I know my Beatles books very well and what the author does here so effectively is bring a freshness to such a familiar subject. Having said that, The Beatles period stuff is great but the book really comes to life when its getting to grips with the complexities of Harrison's life after 1970. Definitive, I's say.
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This is a very decent biography.

Much of it is taken from previously available material, but that doesn't detract from a decent look at the character of a complex man who never quite came to terms with the fame that was thrust upon him. At times Harrison felt the fame was happening to somebody else.

By necessity this book is obviously also about the Beatles and at times it does wander away from the subject of the biography. But of course that was always going to be inevitable. It beautifully illustrates the way the Fab Four soon became burnt out with the non stop rounds of live dates, recording, making films etc. It is written in an engaging style about a man that has always seemed to play second fiddle to Lennon and McCartney but whom had a withering sense of humour.

I have always been particularly interested in the early days of the Beatles - before they were famous. Interestingly Harrison never felt a great affinity to his native Liverpool and it is important that we think about this book without pre-conceptions. Today Liverpool is a thriving centre of history and art. When Harrison was growing up it was a hotbed of violence and crime. The book highlights the wonderful support Harrison had from his family and his mother in particular.

It depicts the early days in Hamburg well and the transition of the Beatles into the world's greatest ever band. Much of the interest in the book, however, comes in the shape of Harrison's life outside the group when he was older but not necessarily wiser and continually striving for something that could make some sense of his life. This is a good portrait of something of a tortured soul.
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on 18 January 2015
I was very disappointed in this book . Having read great reviews about it and being a super fan of George Harrison I was excited to read this book . You would think when an author chooses his subject he'd pick a subject he loves ; not true with Graeme Thomson . Theres a underlying contempt for Harrison through the whole book getting worse in the second half . Although subtle , it's unmistakable how little the author finds to like or admire about Harrison . Even during some of Harrisin's greatest triumphs the author will write a throw away backhanded one line compliment . It's hard to describe without going back and finding specifics . It's not that I wanted a breezy pie in the sky biography , I wanted a true in depth biography with balanced good and bad personal lifetime and music stories as advertised . Because I'm in the State's and went through trouble and expensive to buy this book and was truly looking forward to reading it I thought I was imaging it when I started to notice how cold and mean the author was when describing stories I knew were positive likable well known attributes of Harrison's . By the end of the book I was thinking to myself hmmm I wonder how the author will spin this antidote into something hypercritical ? And sure enough there'd be a harsh jab .
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on 1 September 2015
I'm far from being a "Beatlemaniac", or having all the Fab Four individual discographies. I have all the "regular" Beatles records (from "Pleas Please ME" through "Abbey Road and "Let it Be", and the Red and Blue compilations). From the individual discographies, I have only "Band on The Run" by McCartney, "George Harrison" from 1979, and a double-CD compilation of John Lennon. Of Ringo, nothing at all. Also, I have the "Anthology" box of DVDs.

I say all that to make it clear that in general I know about Beatles songs, but I'm not an avid collector by any strech of the imagination. So, I went into this biography of Harrison looking for information that would be new to me. And I found it.

The book has 16 chapters, usually between 20-35 pages each, It has a good flowing between ths history of Harrison and and critical analysis of the quality of his albums. There is also the more known facts: the discovery of India, the Clapton/Boyd affair, the inernal Beatles fighting, his absence from touring, etc, etc... In general, however, the author clearly makes it best to not throw garbage over George's name, be it in drug use or infidelity.

A good, thick book.
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on 30 August 2014
I really enjoyed this book; in fact, I found it hard to put down. So, I would strongly recommend it to anyone who has a fascination with the life and music of George Harrison, even those who have already seen the excellent Scorsese documentary, Living in the Material World, and also The Beatles Anthology. Graeme Thomson has done an even more impress job that his previous biography of Kate Bush, and added a deeper understanding of George Harrison, the man.

What makes Behind the Locked Door such a fascinating read is the author’s honestly about his subject, revealing the warts-and-all nature of Harrison and the conflicts within his personality that seem to have brought him so much angst and mental anguish over the years. It is interesting to see this developing mid way through The Beatles decade, and growing to the point at which he was absolutely through with The Beatles quite some time before the final split. But Thomas goes on the describe the struggles that pervaded Harrison’s life after he had moved on from the Beatle George role; the drugs, the infidelities, the obsessive rejection of his Beatle past, the nervousness and sensitivity, to mention but a few. Thomson always treats his subject with the greatest sympathy and sensitivity, while offering his own candid and thought-provoking insight into the man and what he was going though at various stages of his life.

One of the most fascinating parts of the book for me was in describing the making of The Beatles Anthology, and the tensions that this reignited within the three surviving Beatles. It touches on one of the issues that has always fascinated me, namely whether Harrison and McCartney ever really reconciled. According to Pattie Boyd, interviewed for the book, Harrison never had much love for McCartney after The Beatles, and there was always a tension when they were together. Another interesting insight is Harrison’s complex relationship with Eric Clapton and how this seemed to continue into the final decade of his life: unbeknownst to Clapton, Harrison had a 3-day fling with Clapton’s ex and mother of his son Conor, Lory Del Santo, when she met up with them on tour in Japan in late 1991.
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on 24 June 2014
This book arrived in virtually new condition, in hard back. I was disappointed in this book which told me nothing new about George, and is packed with quotes from other writers, it seems to me. The most interesting personal details came in the numerous quotes from Patty Boyd s memoir which I had already read.
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on 2 November 2013
About time we had a good book on George. Well researched, well written, warts and all. Likely to ruffle a few feathers but only because it shows George as human with foibles rather than the air-brushed images we sometimes get in the official biographies. There's the odd factual error but it doesn't detract from the book at all. Very worth while read. Delivery and packaging were both excellent. Would use the supplier again without hesitation.
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on 8 November 2013
This is a good book for the person that knows a fair bit about George and owns other books on him
but throws in a few new things aswell. It says about his early days,how he became a beatle and became eaten up by the fame
and madness of it.Covers his Indian influences well and his solo years.
Not scared to show his weakness and bad points and a bit of humour here and there.
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