… the myth and legend surrounding the Beatles? Of course you have. What a silly question to ask.
The real question should be – have you heard about the TRUE story of the Beatles? If not, it’s time to pick up Bob Spitz’s comprehensive book, The Beatles: The Biography. This massive book covers the band’s entire history: their childhoods, their skiffle beginnings, the insanity of Beatlemania, their angry final sessions at Abbey Road Studios, and everything in between. The problem of chronicling the history of the Beatles (or any pop culture superstar, for that matter) is that myth and reality get so wrapped with each other that it’s hard to tell which is which. And with a group as legendary, controversial, and beloved as the Beatles, it’s even harder for the author to keep subjective emotions from clouding the facts.
Now, this biography is not free from the author’s emotions, but Bob Spitz goes to great lengths to dispel the myths surrounding the Beatle’s existence and make each member of the Fab Four stand out as individuals. John Lennon is portrayed as a conflicted, frustrated, yet violent artist, Paul McCartney as a diplomatic, ingratiating, and slightly arrogant musician, George Harrison as a brooding, sarcastic, and occasionally biting guitarist who was never given much of an opportunity to grow within the band, and Ringo Starr as an easygoing band mate with tendencies towards brooding and moodiness. Are these perceptions accurate? It’s hard to say. With the Beatles, there will never be one “correct” account of their work, but it’s really something to see these larger-than-life personalities become grounded and somehow almost more human.
This book requires commitment and an open mind, but the journey it creates for the reader is exhilarating, shocking, heartbreaking, infuriating, and awe-inspiring - just like the Beatles themselves.
Reviewed by Katie (staff)