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Music The Beatles
by
Ian Inglis

Introduction

The Beatles (John Lennon, 1940–1980, rhythm guitar and vocals; Paul McCartney, 1942–, bass guitar and vocals; George Harrison, 1943–2001, lead guitar and vocals; Ringo Starr, 1940–, drums) emerged in 1963–1964 to international acclaim as a hugely popular and profoundly influential force in popular music. The group’s four members were born and educated in Liverpool, England, and it was in that city that their musical career, inspired by their fondness for American rock ’n’ roll, began. From Lennon and McCartney’s initial meeting in July 1957, the group progressed through several changes of name (the Quarrymen, Johnny and the Moondogs, the Silver Beetles), variations in membership (bass guitarist Stuart Sutcliffe, drummer Pete Best), and a performance history largely centered on the dance halls and clubs of Merseyside and Hamburg, Germany, before signing a management contract with Liverpool businessman Brian Epstein in 1962 and securing a recording contract with Parlophone in the same year. In 1963, the Beatles achieved unprecedented commercial success in the United Kingdom amid scenes of fan hysteria that were quickly dubbed “Beatlemania.” In 1964, their achievements were repeated in the United States and around the world. They spearheaded the “British Invasion” of the mid-1960s in which British performers established for the first time a significant presence in American popular music. Under the guidance of producer George Martin, the group enjoyed an unbroken sequence of hit singles and albums that defined much of the decade’s musical activity. The group composed the great majority of its music, and the ability of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting team to create original and innovative songs across a variety of genres was seen as a principal explanation of the Beatles’ success. In 1966, they announced their retirement from touring and live performance in order to concentrate on studio recording, and the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in June 1967 was hailed, then and now, as a pivotal moment in the cultural history of the postwar years. Following Epstein’s death in August 1967, the group attempted to take control of its business and financial affairs via the creation of its own musical and managerial company, Apple. However, the increasingly troubled history of Apple and the individual aspirations of the four Beatles led to irreparable schisms in the group’s personal relations. The Beatles effectively disbanded in April 1970, although all four members continued to have active, if intermittent, careers in music and film. John Lennon was shot dead outside his home in New York in December 1980; George Harrison died in November 2001 at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was being treated for cancer.

General Overviews

There is no shortage of sources presenting comprehensive accounts of the music and career of the Beatles. The most detailed, and certainly the most well-informed, is the group’s own autobiographical version of its remarkable story, Beatles: Anthology (Wonfor 2003). Many others combine elements of social history, journalism, biography, and musical criticism: Schaffner 1977 provides a clear and wide-ranging review of the group’s various activities that concentrates mainly on its impact in the United States, and MacDonald 2007 locates the Beatles’ music within the expanding cultural boundaries of the 1960s. An interesting example of the ways in which scholarly forms of critical journalism perceive the Beatles is presented in Marcus 1992. The growing number of scholarly contributions reflects not only the increased interest in popular music studies as an academic discipline but also the status of the Beatles themselves as key figures in the social and artistic history of the 20th century: Inglis 2000, Womack and Davis 2006, and Womack 2009 contain collections of original essays that offer assessments of the Beatles from sociological, literary, musicological, linguistic, and cultural perspectives. Although criticized for its lack of impartiality, Davies 2010 remains the only authorized biography of the group.

  • Davies, Hunter. The Beatles. Rev. ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010.

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    Originally published in 1968, this substantially expanded and updated book is the only biography to have been written with the full cooperation of the Beatles and Brian Epstein. Although it presents a somewhat sanitized version of their story, it reveals the ambitions of the four Beatles at a time when they were determined to move beyond the restrictions of Beatlemania and to progress from pop stars into musicians.

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  • Inglis, Ian, ed. The Beatles, Popular Music and Society: A Thousand Voices. New York: St. Martin’s, 2000.

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    An important collection of essays that demonstrates the multidisciplinary nature of research into popular music studies in the 21st century. It is particularly notable for the fact that several of the authors challenge conventional assumptions and perennial mythologies about the Beatles and seek instead to supply a balanced and objective critique of the group and its activities.

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  • MacDonald, Ian. Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties. 3d ed. Chicago: Chicago Review, 2007.

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    Especially valuable for its introductory essay, which maps out the cultural contours of postwar Britain and points to the Beatles’ music as an integral component of its time. The song-by-song analysis of the Beatles’ records gives equal weight to their musical properties and individual influences, and specifies thematic and stylistic connections with other contemporary musicians.

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  • Marcus, Greil. “The Beatles.” In The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music. Edited by Anthony DeCurtis and James Henke, 209–222. New York: Random House, 1992.

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    An idiosyncratic but stimulating overview, by a leading rock critic, in which chronological, cultural, and musical perspectives are presented as competing locations from which some sense of the Beatles’ career might be gleaned.

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  • Schaffner, Nicholas. The Beatles Forever. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1977.

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    This book is distinguished by an unusually perceptive commentary that distinguishes it from many illustrated histories of the Beatles’ story. Its chapters are arranged chronologically, but the presence of recurring themes (including their approaches to performance, songwriting, their visual appearance, and film and TV work) supplies a continuous trajectory.

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  • Womack, Kenneth, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521869652Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Organized into three sections—“Background,” “Works,” and “History and Influence”—the thirteen chapters provide an informed guide to the historical impact and continuing reputation of the Beatles. The bulk of the book focuses crucially on their musical output, from pop to psychedelia to their solo careers, and emphasizes that despite the undoubted significance of other attributes, the music of the Beatles remains their most memorable legacy.

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  • Womack, Kenneth, and Todd F. Davis, eds. Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, and the Fab Four. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.

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    An eclectic collection of essays, whose topics range across the records, films, politics, and cultural legacy of the Beatles.

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  • Wonfor, Geoff, dir. Beatles: Anthology. London: Apple, 2003.

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    Compiled from the recollections of McCartney, Starr, and Harrison, and from previously published interviews with Lennon, this expanded five-DVD collection presents ten hours of archive film, musical performances, and newsreel material, with personal commentaries from the Beatles. Part of the group’s “Anthology” project, which also included three double-CD releases, and a copiously illustrated book (London: Cassell, 2000) covering the years from their childhoods in wartime Britain to the group’s disintegration in 1970.

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Reference Works

Although hampered by a lack of reliable information about the Beatles’ early years, and by the alternative titling and packaging of their records in territories around the world, several books attempt to supply accurate historical inventories of the group’s performing career and recording output. Lewisohn 1986 lists the group’s live performances; Wiener 1992 and Castleman and Podrazik 1976 compile exhaustive discographies; Lewisohn 1988 documents the Beatles’ recording sessions. Harry 1992 and Lewisohn 1992 seek to provide a complete record of their professional lives. The scores of their entire musical output are comprehensively brought together in Fujita, et al. 1993.

  • Castleman, Harry, and Walter J. Podrazik. All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography, 1961–1975. Ann Arbor, MI: Pierian, 1976.

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    A comprehensive guide to the Beatles’ group and solo recordings from 1961 to 1975. It also contains valuable information about chart placings, bootleg recordings, and their appearances on other musicians’ records.

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  • Fujita, Tetsuya, Yuji Hagino, Hajime Kubo, and Goro Sato, transcribers. The Beatles: Complete Scores. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard, 1993.

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    Notwithstanding several minor inaccuracies in some of the transcriptions, this is a near-essential resource. Unlike many of the collected scores of the Beatles, it includes those of the songs they covered as well as their own compositions.

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  • Harry, Bill. The Ultimate Beatles Encyclopedia. London: Virgin, 1992.

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    Harry’s involvement in the Liverpool scene of the 1960s (he edited the fortnightly Mersey Beat newspaper) give him a close personal association with many of the fifteen hundred–plus entries listed in his guide to the people, places, and music of the Beatles. Anecdotal at times, but a useful source of obscure information, and a starting point for further research.

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  • Lewisohn, Mark. The Beatles Live! London: Pavilion, 1986.

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    A detailed chronology of the venues and dates that constituted the Beatles’ performance history from 1957 to 1966. Early copies of the book include a 33 1/3 rpm disc featuring a seven-minute interview given by the Beatles, and broadcast on hospital radio in Port Sunlight, Merseyside, in October 1962.

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  • Lewisohn, Mark. The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years, 1962–1970. London: Hamlyn, 1988.

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    Comprehensively documents the entire history of the Beatles’ studio recordings. The day-by-day commentary includes details of studio personnel, equipment, completed and discarded tracks, and contributing musicians. The reproduction of studio logs and the introductory interview with Paul McCartney provide rare insights into the group’s recording routines.

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  • Lewisohn, Mark. The Complete Beatles Chronicle. London: Pyramid, 1992.

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    Essentially an amalgamation of the author’s previous two books (Lewisohn 1986 and Lewisohn 1988), it also lists their UK radio and television appearances.

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  • Wiener, Allen J. The Beatles: The Ultimate Recording Guide. New York: Facts on File, 1992.

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    An invaluable aid to research, characterized by an exemplary attention to detail. It contains a general chronology and a detailed discography.

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Musical Analysis

Critical musicological analysis of the Beatles’ songs, in which the reproduction and formal discussion of notated scores is central, constitutes a growing proportion of informed research around the group. While much of the literature identifies patterns of process and progress across the entirety of their work, some concentrates on the details of specific albums or songs.

Commentaries

Mann 1963 is the earliest example of any serious musicological interest in the Beatles. Mellers 1973 and O’Grady 1983 provide the first extended analyses of their songs. Everett 2001 considers the evolution of their musical strategies and practices in the early part of their career, and an assessment of their development in the group’s later years is presented in Everett 1999. However, Fitzgerald 1996 suggests that much of their music was characterized by a reliance on standard forms. Covach 2006 argues that the group’s attempts to replicate the craftsmanship of US pop composers was gradually replaced by an understanding of music making as an “art” rather than a “craft.” Pollack’s online resource Notes on the Beatles provides an analysis of all Beatles’ recordings, including the Beatles’ covers of others’ songs The difficulties in producing an effective transcription of Beatles’ songs are discussed at length in Koskimäki 2006.

  • Covach, John. “From ‘Craft’ to ‘Art’: Formal Structure in the Music of the Beatles.” In Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, and the Fab Four. Edited by Kenneth Womack and Todd F. Davis, 37–53. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.

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    A cogent and illuminating study of transformations in the compositions of the Beatles between 1963 and 1967. The author contends that developments in the formal design of their songs represent a new self-awareness of their status as artists.

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  • Everett, Walter. The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver through the Anthology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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    A detailed exploration and assessment of the music created by the Beatles after their decision in 1966 to abandon live performance in favor of studio production.

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  • Everett, Walter. The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men through Rubber Soul. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    Authoritative text that examines in rich detail the structures and mechanisms of the Beatles’ music during their touring and performing years from 1957 to 1965.

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  • Fitzgerald, Jon. “Lennon-McCartney and the ‘Middle Eight’.” Popular Music and Society 20.4 (1996): 41–52.

    DOI: 10.1080/03007769608591643Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Lennon-McCartney’s adoption of the familiar AABA form as the preferred template for Beatles’ songs places much of their music firmly within the traditions of mainstream popular music.

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  • Koskimäki, Jouni. Happiness Is . . . a Good Transcription: Reconsidering the Beatles Sheet Music Publications. Jyväskylä, Finland: University of Jyväskylä Press, 2006.

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    A challenging text, targeted specifically at experienced musicologists. It considers the unreliability of many sheet music publications of Beatles’ songs, and argues for a new method of transcription.

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  • Mann, William. “What Songs the Beatles Sang.” Times, 23 December 1963, 4.

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    A brief but immensely influential review that signals the start of a cultural shift in attitudes toward the Beatles and their music. Text available online.

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  • Mellers, Wilfrid. Twilight of the Gods: The Beatles in Retrospect. London: Faber and Faber, 1973.

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    A pioneering analysis of the Beatles’ music. The inclusion of a glossary of terms and a straightforward text enable the nonmusicologist to navigate through the book’s arguments and conclusions.

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  • O’Grady, Terence J. The Beatles: A Musical Evolution. Boston: Twayne, 1983.

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    Successfully and succinctly charts the increasing sophistication of the group’s music through a focus on its use of melody, harmony, rhythm, form, and instrumentation.

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  • Pollack, Alan W. Notes on the Beatles.

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    Ambitious and painstaking online analysis of Beatles’ tracks. Logically and consistently set out, and presented in a straightforward, conversational style.

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    Case Studies

    Of all the Beatles’ music, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band continues to attract the most sustained critical attention. Moore 1997 examines the album through a song-by-song approach, and Wagner 2008 concentrates on the musical elements in two individual tracks. The music of Revolver receives similar scrutiny in Reising 2002. In contrast, Fitzgerald 2000 considers the songs of the Beatles (and others) during the early years of the British Invasion. The group’s use of suppressed notes in specific songs is examined in Wagner 2004. Babiuk 2002 uniquely assesses the manner in which the nature of the Beatles’ music was influenced by their acquisition of instruments and equipment.

    • Babiuk, Andy. Beatles Gear. San Francisco: Backbeat, 2002.

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      A highly original approach to the music of the Beatles that considers the significance of the stage and studio equipment acquired by the group in the creation and performance of the group’s songs. Contains detailed technical specifications and invaluable illustrations.

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    • Fitzgerald, Jon. “Lennon-McCartney and the Early British Invasion 1964–1966.” In The Beatles, Popular Music and Society: A Thousand Voices. Edited by Ian Inglis, 53–85. New York: St. Martin’s, 2000.

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      A wide-ranging musical evaluation in which the stylistic techniques and strategies of the Beatles’ songs are compared with those of their peers, including the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, and the Kinks.

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    • Moore, Allan F. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511620195Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      An extended musical commentary lies at the heart of this rigorous analysis, in which the author situates the preparation and reception of the album within its immediate cultural surroundings, and recognizes its connections to 19th-century traditions of song cycles.

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    • Reising, Russell, ed. Every Sound There Is: The Beatles’ Revolver and the Transformation of Rock and Roll. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2002.

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      The book’s fourteen chapters cover the influences, music, personnel, and themes of the album. The essays in the section on Revolver’s musicality present specific assessments of the songs’ structures, harmonic devices, and tonal resemblances.

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    • Wagner, Naphtali. “Fixing a Hole in the Scale: Suppressed Notes in the Beatles’ Songs.” Popular Music 23.3 (2004): 257–269.

      DOI: 10.1017/S0261143004000212Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A systematic analysis of the manner in which some songs of the Beatles are often marked by the use of suppressed melodic notes to create musical momentum. It argues that the strategy is clearly visible in the compositions of Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison.

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    • Wagner, Naphtali. “The Beatles’ Psycheclassical Synthesis: Psychedelic Classicism and Classical Psychedelia in Sgt. Pepper.” In Sgt. Pepper and the Beatles: It Was Forty Years Ago Today. Edited by Olivier Julien, 75–90. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008.

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      A close examination of two tracks—“She’s Leaving Home” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”—allows for a fascinating comparison of classical and psychedelic musical tendencies.

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    Lyrical Analysis

    Commentaries on the lyrics of Beatles’ songs have utilized forms of literary or linguistic analysis to investigate the group’s songwriting practices and their development over time. MacDonald 2007, Hertsgaard 1995, and Riley 2002 record chronologically the progression in the scope, depth, and lyrical complexity of their songs. Cook and Mercer 2000 employs a computer-based text analysis of song lyrics to assess the variations between the group’s earlier and later compositions. A similar transition, underpinning the group’s approach to the perennial assumptions of the love song, is described in Inglis 1997. Whiteley 2006 considers lyrical, narrative, and musical facets of the Beatles’ songs in its evaluation of the group’s construction of gender and sexuality.

    • Cook, Guy, and Neil Mercer. “‘From Me to You’: Austerity to Profligacy in the Language of the Beatles.” In The Beatles, Popular Music and Society: A Thousand Voices. Edited by Ian Inglis, 86–104. New York: St. Martin’s, 2000.

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      The authors use concordance analysis to reveal the frequency of particular words in the Beatles’ songs and the collocations, or clusters, in which they occur. Decisive patterns of change in vocabulary, names, pronouns, and contextual connotation are revealed. The study presents complex insights in a clear and concise fashion.

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    • Hertsgaard, Mark. A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles. New York: Delacorte, 1995.

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      A reliable introductory guide to the songs of the Beatles and the circumstances in which they were composed and recorded.

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    • Inglis, Ian. “Variations on a Theme: The Love Songs of the Beatles.” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 28.1 (1997): 37–62.

      DOI: 10.2307/3108435Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      An innovative exercise in considering the properties of popular songs from a social psychological perspective. By relating the group’s songs to typologies of love, the author demonstrates startling shifts—in the frequency of the love song and the manner in which love is understood and represented—through the career of the Beatles.

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    • MacDonald, Ian. Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties. Chicago: Chicago Review, 2007.

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      A key resource, which is noteworthy for its historical specificity, its informative cross-references, and its convincing argument that the Beatles songs definitively reflect the era in which they were written.

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    • Riley, Tim. Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary. Rev. ed. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2002.

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      Effectively combines lyrical and musical analysis to produce an accessible and intelligent overview of the group’s songs.

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    • Whiteley, Sheila. “‘Love, Love, Love’: Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Selected Songs by the Beatles.” In Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, and the Fab Four. Edited by Kenneth Womack and Todd F. Davis, 55–69. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.

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      An elegant and thoughtful essay that points to an inherent conservatism in much of the Beatles’ music regarding representations of gender and sexuality—a conservatism that is not always apparent because of the group’s musical and technical diversity.

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    Biographies

    As popular music’s most celebrated performers, the Beatles continue to attract an enormous number of biographical treatments, which range from the superficial to the sensational to the scholarly. Among the many titles are a number of thoroughly sourced and well-written accounts that provide important additions to the reader’s knowledge of their subjects. Few engage in extended or direct discussion of the Beatles’ music, but do indicate the circumstances under which their songs were written and recorded. Davies 2010 remains the only official biography, although several others, such as Norman 2003 and Brown and Gaines 1983 claim a special affiliation or personal association with the group. Gould 2007 and Spitz 2005 are impressive for the depth and detail of their research.

    • Brown, Peter, and Steven Gaines. The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983.

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      Brown draws on his experiences as executive in Brian Epstein’s NEMS Enterprises and the Beatles’ Apple Corps to justify the book’s claims to authenticity. It sheds little light on the Beatles as musicians, and is inevitably subjective and salacious in parts. Nevertheless, it plausibly depicts the internal response to the enormous international success of the group in the mid-1960s.

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    • Davies, Hunter. The Beatles. Rev. ed. London: W. W. Norton, 2010.

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      In treating its subject seriously, this book demonstrates the new importance of popular music in the United Kingdom as a legitimate area of creative and commercial activity. The disillusionment of the Beatles with the constraints of their professional lives at the time of its writing is evident. Especially useful for readers who require an accessible, initial overview of the group in its lifetime.

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    • Gould, Jonathan. Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. New York: Harmony, 2007.

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      An impressive attempt to assess the Beatles not only in terms of their historical achievements but in relation to their wider social and cultural significance. By situating parts of his discussion within elements of psychological, sociological, and political theory, the author produces an unusually thoughtful and mature biography.

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    • Norman, Philip. Shout! The True Story of the Beatles. Rev. ed. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2003.

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      As a professional biographer whose other subjects include the Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, and Elton John, the author presents a competent account of the group’s career that is rich in background detail.

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    • Spitz, Bob. The Beatles: The Biography. New York: Little, Brown, 2005.

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      An unusually lengthy and detailed biography of the group. Especially informative about the origins and early years of the Beatles (more than one-third of its nearly one thousand pages are devoted to the period before their UK breakthrough in 1963) and the financial and personal frustrations that surrounded the rise and fall of Apple in 1968–1969. Painstakingly referenced.

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    The Early Years

    Accounts of the Beatles’ early years focus on their activities in Liverpool and Hamburg from 1957 to 1962. History often gives way to anecdote, and evidence is often outweighed by exaggeration, but even within the more subjective contributions, there are insights into the musical cultures of the period and the Beatles’ place and time within them.

    Liverpool

    The history of the Quarrymen is explored in Davies 2001, and firsthand descriptions of the Liverpool scene are provided in Leach 1999 and Williams and Marshall 1975. The Beatles’ first UK tour, in May 1960, is chronicled in Gentle and Forsyth 1998. Thompson 1994 compiles a detailed history of the Cavern Club and the Beatles’ performances there. O’Donnell 2006 imaginatively recreates the first meeting between the teenage John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

    • Davies, Hunter. The Quarrymen. London: Omnibus, 2001.

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      An efficient and comprehensive history of John Lennon’s first group. Extensive interviews with five of the six original members form the basis for much of the narrative.

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    • Gentle, Johnny, and Ian Forsyth. Johnny Gentle and the Beatles: First Ever Tour; Scotland, 1960. Runcorn, UK: Merseyrock, 1998.

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      An unpretentious account of the Beatles’ weeklong tour of Scotland in the spring of 1960, as Johnny Gentle’s hired backing group. The unglamorous nature of the United Kingdom’s provincial pop music circuit is captured in straightforward detail.

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    • Leach, Sam. The Rocking City: The Explosive Birth of the Beatles. Gwynedd, UK: Pharaoh, 1999.

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      A vivid and entertaining portrait of Liverpool’s musical network in the late 1950s and early 1960s, written by one of the city’s leading promoters.

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    • O’Donnell, Jim. The Day John Met Paul: An Hour-by-Hour Account of How the Beatles Began. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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      A meticulous reconstruction of the events surrounding the meeting of John Lennon and Paul McCartney at a Liverpool fete in July 1957. Characterized by a strong emotional investment, the book successfully evokes the Liverpool suburbia of the mid-1950s.

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    • Thompson, Phil. The Best of Cellars: The Story of the World Famous Cavern Club. Liverpool, UK: Bluecoat, 1994.

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      Impeccably researched and fully illustrated, this is a complete historical record of Liverpool’s Cavern Club, from its opening in 1957 to its closure in 1973. The Beatles’ 274 appearances there are a major strand in the story it tells.

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    • Williams, Allan, and William Marshall. The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away. New York: Macmillan, 1975.

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      Hugely subjective account of the Beatles’ early years by the group’s first manager. Many of its claims lack corroborative or documentary evidence, and it is related in a breathless style, but it remains a compelling version of the group’s formative period.

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    Hamburg

    In addition to the “sex and drugs and rock ’n’ roll” mythology upheld by many writers, there are others that seek to present a more balanced view of the significance of their five engagements (at four separate venues) in the city from 1960 to 1962. Krüger and Pelc 2006 offers a comprehensive guide to the Hamburg scene, and Beckmann and Martens 1980 provides a history of the Star-Club. Inglis 2012 assesses the professional repercussions of their visits, and the wider significance of Hamburg as a musical destination. Personal accounts of the Beatles in Hamburg include Best and Doncaster 2001, Vollmer 2004, and Bellstorf 2010.

    • Beckmann, Dieter, and Klaus Martens. Star-Club. Reinbek, Germany: Rowohlt, 1980.

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      Relates the fortunes of Hamburg’s most prestigious venue from its opening (with the Beatles) in April 1962 to its closure in December 1969. Text is in German.

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    • Bellstorf, Arne. Baby’s in Black: The Story of Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe. Berlin: Reprodukt, 2010.

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      An unorthodox and fascinating memoir, written with the full cooperation of Astrid Kirchherr. The story of Kirchherr’s involvement with the Beatles in Hamburg, her impressions of the group, and her relationship with Stuart Sutcliffe is told in the form of a graphic novel.

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    • Best, Pete, and Patrick Doncaster. Beatle! The Pete Best Story. Rev. ed. London: Plexus, 2001.

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      A unique resource, in that it is the only firsthand account of the Beatles’ time in Hamburg (and Liverpool) to have been written by a member of the group. The author’s resentment at his sudden dismissal occasionally surfaces, but for the most part this is an informative, if selective, version of his two years with the Beatles. Seven of the book’s fifteen chapters deal directly with events in Hamburg.

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    • Inglis, Ian. The Beatles in Hamburg. London: Reaktion, 2012.

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      Eschews the sensationalized aspects of the group’s five trips to Hamburg in order to explore the impact that the visits had on their musical preferences, songwriting ambitions, and group membership.

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    • Krüger, Ulf, and Ortwin Pelc, eds. The Hamburg Sound: Beatles, Beat und Große Freiheit. Hamburg, Germany: Ellert & Richter, 2006.

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      A valuable historical resource, published to coincide with a related exhibition at the Museum of Hamburg History. The contributions are organized into three related sections: “The Beatles in Hamburg”; “The Hamburg Sound”; “Hamburg and the Sixties.” Although relatively short, many of the chapters (printed in German and English) are unusually specific.

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    • Vollmer, Jurgen. The Beatles in Hamburg: Photographs, 1961. Munich: Schirmer Mosel, 2004.

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      Written by the photographer responsible not only for their distinctive hairstyle but for many of the defining images of the Beatles in Hamburg, this accurately portrays the city’s Bohemian subculture in which the Beatles immersed themselves. The text is in German and English.

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    The Touring Years and Beatlemania

    The excitement that accompanied the Beatles’ hectic touring schedule from 1963 through 1966 and the accompanying scenes of Beatlemania have been obvious themes for commentators to pursue. Braun 1964 gives a firsthand account of the group’s new-found fame in 1963, and Creasy 2010 charts the subsequent development of Beatlemania in the United Kingdom. The group’s US tours are discussed in Rayl and Gunther 1989, Kane 2003, and Tashian 1996. Kendall 1997 examines the impact of the Beatles’ appearances in Canada; Baker 1996 discusses the group’s tour of Australia and New Zealand. A political consideration of Beatlemania from the perspective of its adolescent female participants is presented in Ehrenreich, et al. 1992.

    • Baker, Glenn A. The Beatles Down Under: The 1964 Australian and New Zealand Tour. Lane End, UK: Magnum, 1996.

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      A thorough record and assessment of the Beatles’ only tour of Australia and New Zealand in the summer of 1964. Aided by numerous photographs, firsthand recollections, and detailed chronologies.

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    • Braun, Michael. Love Me Do: The Beatles’ Progress. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1964.

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      This is an indispensable and impartial report of the Beatles’ emerging fame. The author’s journalistic background, his free access to the Beatles during a crucial period of transition in their career, and his determination to record events as they happened define this as a key text in the study of Beatlemania.

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    • Creasy, Martin. Beatlemania! The Real Story of the Beatles UK Tours, 1963–1965. New York: Omnibus, 2010.

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      Describes in depth the unprecedented scenes of chaos that marked the group’s six British tours in the mid-1960s. Meticulously documented, it includes the observations of fans and tour personnel.

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    • Ehrenreich, Barbara, Elizabeth Hess, and Gloria Jacobs. “Beatlemania: Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” In The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media. Edited by Lisa A. Lewis, 84–106. New York: Routledge, 1992.

      DOI: 10.4324/9780203181539Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      An astutely argued essay that looks at the historical consequences of Beatlemania for those young women in its midst. The authors suggest that the active and widespread organization of girls around the Beatles provided an important stimulus for the feminist movement of the late 1960s.

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    • Kane, Larry. Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles’ 1964 Tour that Changed the World. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2003.

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      An informative, balanced, and detailed memoir of the Beatles 1964 US tour, written by one of the accompanying journalists. It concentrates more on their personal circumstances and experiences than their performances, and also discusses the group’s 1965 tour. The book contains a CD featuring lengthy interviews with the four Beatles.

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    • Kendall, Brian. Our Hearts Went Boom: The Beatles’ Invasion of Canada. Toronto: Viking, 1997.

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      Tells the story of the Beatles’ first visit to Canada by employing contemporary photographs, illustrations, and advertisements. The text is largely anecdotal, but evokes the clear sense of national anticipation.

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    • Rayl, A. J. S., and Curt Gunther. Beatles ’64: A Hard Day’s Night in America. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1989.

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      Balanced and efficient use of photographs and text. An introductory essay is followed by detailed reports of the performances at each of the nationwide concert venues during the Beatles’ initial tour of the United States.

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    • Tashian, Barry. Ticket to Ride: The Extraordinary Diary of the Beatles’ Last Tour. Nashville: Dowling, 1996.

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      Written by the lead singer of the Remains, who supported the Beatles on their final tour of North America in 1966. It incorporates a range of additional material (including local media reports, fans’ recollections, and a diary of contemporary events) to establish a convincing and contextualized portrait.

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    The Studio Years

    After their decision to withdraw from touring in the summer of 1966, the Beatles spent increasing amounts of time in the recording studios of Abbey Road and Apple. Their musical experiments were paralleled by an increasing willingness to seek new activities in areas of their private lives, and much of the literature about this period notes the tensions this produced. Emerick and Massey 2006 comprehensively documents the Beatles’ growing involvement and expertise in the recording process from Revolver onward. Martin and Pearson 1994 concentrates on the immediate environment in which Sgt. Pepper was created, and Heylin 2007 offers a reassessment that places the album, and its reception, in a broader musical and cultural context. The circumstances surrounding the recording of The Beatles (aka “The White Album”) are discussed in Quantick 2002. Let It Be (Lindsay-Hogg 2002) documents the lack of cooperation and common purpose among the Beatles during the recording of the group’s penultimate album, and Sulphy and Schweighardt 1997 presents a frank account of the same chapter. The details of the Beatles’ visit to India to study transcendental meditation in 1968 are recounted in Saltzman 2000.

    • Emerick, Geoff, and Howard Massey. Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles. New York: Gotham, 2006.

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      A considered and informative history of the creation of the group’s post-touring albums from Revolver to Abbey Road, based on the author’s constant presence as chief studio engineer. Describes in detail how the professional rivalry between Lennon and McCartney was channeled into the musical process.

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    • Heylin, Clinton. The Act You’ve Known for All These Years. Edinburgh: Canongate, 2007.

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      A spirited attempt to see the creation of Sgt. Pepper as a representative moment, rather than the definitive act, in the transition from pop to rock.

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    • Lindsay-Hogg, Michael, dir. Let It Be, 1970. DVD. Los Angeles: United Artists, 2002.

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      Lindsay-Hogg’s film documents the group’s attempts to fashion a coherent album during a period of considerable personal animosity.

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    • Martin, George, and William Pearson. With a Little Help from My Friends: The Making of Sgt. Pepper. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994.

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      A valuable insight into the rigors and demands of seven months of studio sessions for Sgt. Pepper, as seen by the Beatles’ producer. It explains how the Beatles started to become increasingly active and proficient in the production—as well as the performance—of their music. Also published under the title Summer of Love: The Making of Sgt. Pepper.

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    • Quantick, David. Revolution: The Making of the Beatles’ White Album. London: Unanimous, 2002.

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      Contains a helpful introductory essay in which the personal and professional preludes to The Beatles—the first, and only, double album deliberately recorded by the group—are clarified. It also includes an inventory of the recorded tracks, and a discussion of the album’s (real and imagined) consequences.

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    • Saltzman, Paul. The Beatles in Rishikesh. New York: Viking Studio, 2000.

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      The only reliable source of information about the Beatles’ trip to Rishikesh in Northern India to study transcendental meditation at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in 1968. As a fellow visitor, the author records, in text and in photographs, his impressions of the group, their expectations of the visit, and the casual composition of many of the songs that would later appear on The Beatles.

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    • Sulphy, Doug, and Ray Schweighardt. Get Back: The Beatles’ Let It Be Disaster. London: Helter Skelter, 1997.

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      A detailed and candid appraisal of the increasingly fractious atmosphere in which Let It Be was recorded, culminating in George Harrison’s temporary resignation from the group.

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    Apple and the Disintegration of the Beatles

    Following the death of Brian Epstein in August 1967, the Beatles formed Apple Corps to guide their professional activities. However, the company’s inability to organize and operate its five divisions (electronics, films, publishing, records, retailing) contributed to the growing conflicts within the group, and to its ultimate dissolution. Taylor 1973, O’Dell and Neaverson 2002, and DiLello 2000 provide firsthand accounts of events inside the company. More objective assessments are presented in McCabe and Schonfeld 1972 and Granados 2002. Doggett 2009 examines the disputed role the company continued to play in the Beatles’ history after their separation. Southall and Perry 2006 considers the history of the Beatles’ song catalog within Apple’s business affairs.

    • DiLello, Richard. The Longest Cocktail Party: An Insider’s Diary of the Beatles, Their Million-Dollar Apple Empire, and Its Wild Rise and Fall. Rev. ed. Edinburgh: Mojo, 2000.

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      An entertaining description of the unpredictable, and often chaotic, nature of day-to-day activities within Apple’s London headquarters. First published in 1972.

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    • Doggett, Peter. You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles after the Breakup. New York: It Books, HarperCollins, 2009.

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      Impressive for the clarity with which the author navigates through the complex and disruptive legal arguments that have plagued Apple and the Beatles since 1970. Notable for its detailed research and succinct presentation.

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    • Granados, Stefan. Those Were the Days: An Unofficial History of the Beatles Apple Organization, 1967–2002. London: Cherry Red, 2002.

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      An attractive combination of original interviews and historical record. Much of the book concentrates on Apple in the 1970s, but the concluding chapters deal briefly with the company’s fortunes in subsequent decades.

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    • McCabe, Peter, and Robert D. Schonfeld. Apple to the Core: The Unmaking of the Beatles. New York: Pocket Books, 1972.

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      Written in the midst of Apple’s most turbulent years, this is the earliest attempt to make sense of the bewildering and protracted series of suits and countersuits spawned by the Beatles’ decision to separate. A useful contemporary portrait of the inevitability of the group’s disintegration.

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    • O’Dell, Denis, and Bob Neaverson. At the Apple’s Core: The Beatles from the Inside. London: Peter Owen, 2002.

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      A detailed exposition of the manner in which the Beatles’ personal aspirations, professional rivalries, and business naivety brought about the end of the group’s career.

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    • Southall, Brian, and Rupert Perry. Northern Songs: The True Story of the Beatles’ Publishing Empire. London: Omnibus, 2006.

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      An informative history of Northern Songs, established by the Beatles in 1963. It investigates, and illuminates, the group’s failure to retain control of its songs.

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    • Taylor, Derek. As Time Goes By. London: Davis-Poynter, 1973.

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      Presented as a series of historical vignettes, this is one of several books written by the Beatles’ (and Apple’s) press officer. Somewhat whimsical in tone, it benefits from the author’s close association with the group and the central role he occupied at Apple.

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    Film, Radio, and Television

    In the 1960s, regular appearances on film, radio, and television were important vehicles through which the Beatles (and their peers) were able to maintain contact with distant or dispersed audiences. The Beatles’ movie career is considered in Neaverson 1997, Yule 1994, and Carr 1996. Howlett 1996 records and assesses the significance of their British radio appearances from 1962 to 1970, and Atkinson 2011 concentrates on nonmusical aspects of their featured broadcasts in 1963. Inglis 2010 discusses the role played by television in introducing the group to British viewers, while Sercombe 2006 examines the impact of the Beatles’ first live appearance on US television. The group’s animated television cartoon series is documented in Axelrod 1999.

    • Atkinson, Peter. “The Beatles on BBC Radio in 1963: The ‘Scouse’ Inflection and a Politics of Sound in the Rise of the Mersey Beat.” Popular Music and Society 34.2 (2011): 163–175.

      DOI: 10.1080/03007760903268809Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      In addition to their musical significance, the author contends that the group’s thirty-nine radio appearances in 1963 possessed a much wider social and political significance. In particular, they helped to legitimize Liverpool’s “Scouse” accent as an integral feature of British cultural practice that reflected, and contributed to, a new democratization.

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    • Axelrod, Mitchell. BeatleToons: The Real Story Behind the Cartoon Beatles. Pickens, SC: Wynn, 1999.

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      Contains exhaustive details of the production, personnel, and screening of the thirty-nine half-hour episodes broadcast over three series on ABC TV. Includes numerous illustrations and complete plot synopses.

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    • Carr, Roy. Beatles at the Movies: Scenes from a Career. London: UFO Music, 1996.

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      Chronicles and comments on the Beatles’ film career, including details of aborted movie projects. Fully supported by stills, crew details, and publicity material. Interviews with Paul McCartney and Richard Lester provide additional insights.

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    • Howlett, Kevin. The Beatles at the BBC: The Radio Years, 1962–1970. London: BBC Books, 1996.

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      Superbly researched account of the group’s many appearances on BBC radio. Contains full listings of all relevant programs, with songs performed, date of transmission, and numerous illustrations. The reproduction of extracts from their radio interviews is especially revealing.

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    • Inglis, Ian. “Here, There and Everywhere: Introducing the Beatles.” In Popular Music and Television in Britain. Edited by Ian Inglis, 179–195. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010.

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      Dispels the traditional view that the Beatles were introduced to British TV audiences through a small number of well-publicized appearances on prime-time, nationwide shows. The author argues that a steady round of off-peak appearances on regional television gave the group a considerable following long before its national breakthrough.

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    • Neaverson, Bob. The Beatles Movies. London: Cassell, 1997.

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      A well-documented critical analysis of the Beatles’ films. The author contends that the size and scale of the Beatles’ musical successes have deflected attention from their other achievements, and presents a persuasive appreciation of the innovative and influential nature of their movies.

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    • Sercombe, Laurel. “‘Ladies and Gentlemen . . .’ The Beatles: The Ed Sullivan Show, CBS TV, February 9, 1964.” In Performance and Popular Music: History, Place and Time. Edited by Ian Inglis, 1–15. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006.

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      A comprehensive analysis of the celebrated occasion on which US audiences were introduced to the Beatles for the first time. The author concludes that the near-mythic status attributed to the event is well deserved, and that the group’s twelve minutes on air signaled the beginning of a new era in US popular music and culture.

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    • Yule, Andrew. The Man Who “Framed” the Beatles: A Biography of Richard Lester. New York: Donald I. Fine, 1994.

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      A biography of Richard Lester, director of A Hard Day’s Night and Help! Although the work also considers his many other movies, the book starts and ends with references to his work with the Beatles, and his association with the group is the dominant theme throughout. His decision to exaggerate their perceived public image and the group’s ability to incorporate their own ideas during filming are among the more interesting topics.

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    Press and Media Coverage

    The Beatles’ domination of the news media was almost as great as their domination of the music charts. Coverage of the group—in the popular music press and in the general news media—veered between the factual and the fanciful, and demonstrated categorically that interest in the group was not confined to musical audiences. Some of the literature reproduces many of the stories, interviews, and features published in specific newspapers and magazines: these include the Liverpool-based Mersey Beat in Harry 1977, New Musical Express in Sutherland 2002, and The Beatles Book in Dean 2005; Sandercombe 2007 presents an inventory of the coverage given to the Beatles in the 1960s across the British popular music press; Rock’s Backpages permits online access to a wide variety of press and magazine articles from 1964 onward. An analysis of the ways in which the British news media approached the Beatles is provided in Inglis 2010. Frontani 2007 explores the way in which media coverage in the United States reflected the Beatles’ transformation from pop stars to political figures, while Reeve 1994 considers the US news media’s reporting of Paul McCartney’s alleged death in 1969. Kwiatkowska 2010 shows the extent to which contemporary journalism borrows the language of the Beatles.

    • Dean, Johnny, ed. The Best of The Beatles Book. London: Beat, 2005.

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      A representative sample of photographs, features, and readers’ letters from the pages of The Beatles Book, published monthly in association with the group’s British fan club from August 1963 to October 1969. Its cheerful, matter-of-fact style typifies the innocence of pop music in the mid-1960s.

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    • Frontani, Michael R. The Beatles: Image and the Media. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007.

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      A perceptive analysis of the importance of the Beatles’ image as a factor in their continuing success. The author critically discusses the pivotal role played by the US media in the construction, generation, and circulation of that image; a chapter on the importance of Rolling Stone is particularly helpful.

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    • Harry, Bill. Mersey Beat: The Beginnings of the Beatles. London: Omnibus, 1977.

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      From its initial publication in July 1961, the fortnightly Mersey Beat was the main source of information about Liverpool’s popular music scene, and a principal vehicle of publicity for the Beatles. This selection of articles from 1961 through 1964 reflects the group’s transition from local popularity to international stardom, and contains contemporary contributions from John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Pete Best.

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    • Inglis, Ian. “‘I Read the News Today, Oh Boy’: The British Press and the Beatles.” Popular Music and Society 33.4 (2010): 549–562.

      DOI: 10.1080/03007761003694373Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Investigates the strategies employed by the music press and the national press in Britain to report the unprecedented success of the Beatles in 1963. The author argues that the initial confusion of many journalists was quickly replaced by a wholly positive approach, which contributed significantly to the group’s domestic popularity.

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    • Kwiatkowska, Alina. “Roll over Shakespeare: References to Beatles Songs in Contemporary English Texts.” In Fifty Years with the Beatles: The Impact of the Beatles on Contemporary Culture. Edited by Jerzy Jarniewicz and Alina Kwiatkowska, 269–285. Lodz, Poland: Lodz University Press, 2010.

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      Illustrates the lasting cultural impact of the Beatles by discussing the ways in which many of their song titles or lyrical extracts are staple ingredients of contemporary journalistic practice.

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    • Reeve, Andru J. Turn Me On, Dead Man: The Complete Story of the Paul McCartney Death Hoax. Ann Arbor, MI: Popular Culture, Ink., 1994.

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      The supposed death of Paul McCartney in a car crash and his hasty replacement in the Beatles by an actor in 1969 is one of the more bizarre tales in the group’s history, and an instructive example of urban mythology. The author supplies a close examination of the crucial role played by elements of the US news media in promoting the story around the world.

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    • Rock’s Backpages.

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      A useful online resource that reproduces familiar and obscure examples of Beatles-related journalism from the last fifty years.

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      • Sandercombe, W. Fraser. The Beatles: The Press Reports, 1961–1970. Burlington, ON: Collector’s Guide, 2007.

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        A year-by-year selection of the press coverage given to the Beatles in the 1960s by Melody Maker, Record Mirror, and Disc and Music Echo. The abundance of reports illustrates not only the perceived “newsworthiness” of the group but the gradual change in its status and reputation.

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      • Sutherland, Steve, ed. The Beatles. NME Originals 1. London: IPC Ignite, 2002.

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        A comprehensive reproduction of original articles, record reviews, and related advertisements as they appeared in New Musical Express from 1962 to 1970.

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      Photographic Essays

      The immense public interest in the Beatles and their own willingness to make themselves accessible to the media at all times resulted in an enormous number of photographic records of the group. Many of these have since been published as edited collections, usually with an accompanying commentary by the original photographer. They provide valuable glimpses of the group’s working routines and off-stage activities. The earliest photographs of the young Beatles are in McCartney 1992. The group’s Hamburg days are recorded in Vollmer 2004 and Clough and Fallows 2010. Examples of the work of individual photographers are represented in Freeman 1990 and Hoffman 1982. Collected images from the British press are contained in Davis 2000 and Hill and Clayton 2002. Carlson 2007 presents a unique photographic portrait of one day in the life of the Beatles.

      The Beatles and their Fans

      There are relatively few sources that approach the study of the Beatles from the perspective of their fans. This is a surprising omission in the literature, given the intensity of audience responses. Mitchell and Munn 1999 and Bedford 1984 offer personal accounts of the authors’ commitment to the group and the extent of their activities as fans. Adler 1964 and Catone 1982 present a selection of letters and essays from Beatles fans. A compilation of poems about the group is presented in Bowen 1995. Berman 2008 supplies an oral history of Beatlemania in the United States.

      • Adler, Bill, ed. Love Letters to the Beatles. New York: Putnam, 1964.

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        A revealing selection of letters received by the Beatles, which range from the affectionate to the insulting. The editor offers no commentary, but allows the messages to speak for themselves.

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      • Bedford, Carol. Waiting for the Beatles: An Apple Scruff’s Story. Poole, UK: Blandford, 1984.

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        Painstakingly detailed history of the author’s life as an “Apple Scruff”—the name affectionately given to those fans who congregated outside the Beatles headquarters in London’s Savile Row—from 1969 to 1972, and of the day-to-day contact it gave her with the Beatles. Her friendship with George Harrison is a central theme throughout the book.

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      • Berman, Garry. We’re Going to See the Beatles!: An Oral History of Beatlemania as Told by the Fans Who Were There. Solana Beach, CA: Santa Monica Press, 2008.

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        Derived from the testimonies of those fans who saw or followed the Beatles during the first rush of Beatlemania in the United States in 1964. Many of their accounts reinforce the conclusion that fandom need not be merely a temporary phenomenon, but can remain as a serious, lifelong statement of interest.

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      • Bowen, Phil, ed. Things We Said Today: Poems about the Beatles. Exeter, UK: Stride, 1995.

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        A collection of around seventy poems inspired by the Beatles. The authors include some of Britain’s most celebrated poets and many relatively unknown writers.

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      • Catone, Marc A., comp. and ed. As I Write This Letter: An American Generation Remembers the Beatles. Ypsilanti, MI: Greenfield, 1982.

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        An extensive collection of letters, artwork, and essays from fans of the group. Their recollections combine personal memories of the Beatles and observations about their wider political influence.

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      • Mitchell, Carolyn Lee, and Michael Munn. All Our Loving: A Beatle Fan’s Memoir. London: Robson, 1999.

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        An unsettling example of the obsessive nature of fandom. The author relates the details of her relationship with the group—particularly with Paul McCartney—in a straightforward manner that belies its darker undertones.

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      John Lennon

      As the de facto leader of the group, and the Beatle whose private life attracted the most media scrutiny and public controversy, Lennon has been a popular and perennial subject for biographers and interviewers. In particular, his literary output, his relationship with Yoko Ono, and the tragedy of his early death are enduring topics. Goldman 1988 and Norman 2008 present substantial, if contrasting, biographies. The interviews in Wenner 2000 and Sheff and Golson 2000 come from two different stages of his post-Beatles career, and are equally revealing. Wiener 1984 examines the growing political consciousness that characterized the last decade of his life. Extensive selections of relevant essays are collected in Thomson and Gutman 1987 and Cott and Doudna 1982. The original contents of Lennon’s two most celebrated books are brought together in Lennon 2010.

      • Cott, Jonathan, and Christine Doudna, eds. The Ballad of John and Yoko. Garden City, NY: Dolphin, 1982.

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        Published shortly after Lennon’s death, this is an informative compendium of features and interviews from many of the longtime contributors to Rolling Stone. It includes memories and tributes from many of Lennon’s friends and fellow musicians.

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      • Goldman, Albert. The Lives of John Lennon. New York: William Morrow, 1988.

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        A distinctive and hugely controversial biography that challenges the affectionate and respectful view taken in many other accounts of the subject’s life. Scathing in its condemnation of Yoko Ono, and frequently hostile in its denunciation of Lennon himself. Gives equal weight to his Beatles and post-Beatles career.

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      • Lennon, John. In His Own Write and a Spaniard in the Works. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010.

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        A one-volume republication of the author’s two books of poems, stories, and artwork, originally published in 1964 and 1965. Their whimsical, surreal tone brought comparisons with Edward Lear and won the author several prestigious literary awards.

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      • Norman, Philip. John Lennon: The Life. New York: Ecco, 2008.

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        An exhaustive, lengthy, and generally positive biography, which concentrates mainly on Lennon’s childhood and adolescence and his period in the Beatles. After her initial cooperation with the author, Yoko Ono withdrew her support for the book, although it does contain a reflective interview with Sean Ono Lennon.

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      • Sheff, David, and G. Barry Golson, eds. All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2000.

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        Serialized in part in Playboy in 1980, and previously published as The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, this is among the most valuable of all Lennon-related documents. The interviews were carried out at a time when he was planning a return to recording and performing, and contain frank comments on many of his group and solo compositions.

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      • Thomson, Elizabeth, and David Gutman, eds. The Lennon Companion: Twenty-Five Years of Comment. Houndmills, UK: Macmillan, 1987.

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        Contains more than fifty representative examples of press comment and scholarly criticism of Lennon and his music from the 1960s onward. The contributions include essays from literary, musical, and political perspectives. Many of the articles are otherwise out of print or difficult to access.

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      • Wenner, Jann. Lennon Remembers. Rev. ed. New York: Verso, 2000.

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        First published in 1970, when Lennon and Ono had moved to New York in the aftermath of the disintegration of the Beatles. The interview (with the founder of Rolling Stone) depicts Lennon at his most anguished and cynical.

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      • Wiener, Jon. Come Together: John Lennon in His Time. New York: Random House, 1984.

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        A compelling account of Lennon’s radicalization through the 1970s, and of the US government’s increasing anxiety over his likely influence. It poses difficult questions about the nature of celebrity involvement in political debate.

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      Paul McCartney

      McCartney’s long-standing prominent position owes much to his extended musical activity (as a performer and as a songwriter) and to the persistent media scrutiny of the circumstances of his three marriages. Despite a solo recording career of more than forty years, it is the decade with the Beatles that dominates much of the literature. Useful biographical treatments are in Miles 1997 and Sounes 2010. Coleman 1995 constructs elements of biography around the origins of the song “Yesterday.” Examples of McCartney’s aspirations as a poet and painter are contained in McCartney 2000 and McCartney 2001, and his broader associations with the avant-garde are discussed in Peel 2002. An evaluation of his complete solo recordings is provided in Benitez 2010.

      • Benitez, Vincent P. The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010.

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        Introduces and assesses the songs of McCartney’s solo career. Separate sections cover his early post-Beatles solo output, the music of Wings, his studio collaborations, his classical works, the “Beatles reunion,” and the regular returns to his musical roots.

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      • Coleman, Ray. McCartney: Yesterday . . . and Today. London: Boxtree, 1995.

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        The estimated four thousand versions of “Yesterday” make it the world’s most recorded song. Here, the author traces its origins from McCartney’s childhood musical influences through its tentative composition in 1963 to its place within the story of the Beatles.

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      • McCartney, Paul. Paintings. Boston: Little, Brown, 2000.

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        Reproduces more than eighty paintings created by McCartney in the 1980s and 1990s, and first exhibited in Siegen, Germany, in 1999. Includes essays by contemporary critics, a series of photographs of the artist at work, and an interview with McCartney in which he talks of the connections between art and music.

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      • McCartney, Paul. Blackbird Singing: Poems and Lyrics, 1965–1999. Edited by Adrian Mitchell. London: Faber, 2001.

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        Contains nearly one hundred examples of McCartney’s song lyrics and original poetry. An introductory essay by poet Adrian Mitchell considers the claims of rock ’n’ roll as a poetic form, and compares McCartney’s work with the poems of Robert Burns and Christina Rossetti.

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      • Miles, Barry. Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now. London: Secker & Warburg, 1997.

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        Written by a close friend of McCartney, the book contains regular commentaries provided by the subject, and focuses almost exclusively on his years with the Beatles. Undeniably subjective in its approach. The discussions about his (and the group’s) approach to songwriting are especially rewarding.

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      • Peel, Ian. The Unknown Paul McCartney: McCartney and the Avant-Garde. Richmond, UK: Reynolds & Hearn, 2002.

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        A notable attempt to shift the public perception of McCartney from commercial songwriter to experimental composer. The author follows his exposure to London’s literary and artistic scenes in the mid-1960s through to his later associations with figures such as Allen Ginsberg and Willem de Kooning.

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      • Sounes, Howard. Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2010.

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        Unusual in that it devotes considerable time to the details of his post-Beatles career. Prodigiously detailed, particularly in the sixty or so pages dealing with his courtship, marriage, and divorce from Heather Mills.

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      George Harrison

      The unpredictable nature of Harrison’s post-Beatles years presented a series of contrasts between considerable public acclaim (following his organization of the Concert for Bangladesh n 1971, and the formation of the Traveling Wilburys in 1988) and profound personal disappointment (including lengthy sabbaticals from performing and recording in the 1980s, and a near-fatal attempt on his life in 1999). The literature covering his thirty years as a solo artist is also, not surprisingly, somewhat uneven itself. An honest, if brief, autobiographical essay is included in Harrison 2002, while an impressively comprehensive insight into some of the key aspects of his life is featured in George Harrison: Living in the Material World (Scorsese 2011). Fine 2002 compiles a wide-ranging critical appraisal of the man and his work. Inglis 2010 and Leng 2006 present thorough guides to his music, and Allison 2006 evaluates the occasions on which religious beliefs influence the themes and contents of his songs. Bannister 2002 discusses the significance of Revolver in Harrison’s career.

      • Allison, Dale C., Jr. The Love There That’s Sleeping: The Art and Spirituality of George Harrison. New York: Continuum, 2006.

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        Written by a Christian scholar, this is a perceptive and informed account of the spiritual components of Harrison’s music. Although it occasionally exaggerates the extent of the religious references in his lyrics, it presents an intriguing analysis of many familiar songs.

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      • Bannister, Matthew. “The Beatle Who Became a Man: Revolver and George Harrison’s Metamorphosis.” In Every Sound There Is: The Beatles’ Revolver and the Transformation of Rock and Roll. Edited by Russell Reising, 183–193. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2002.

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        The author sees the inclusion of Harrison’s three songs on Revolver—“Taxman,” “Love You To,” “I Want To Tell You”—as a decisive moment in his development as a musician. While the album’s diversity gave Harrison a welcome opportunity to be heard as an equal voice alongside Lennon and McCartney, it also emphasized the growing individual aspirations of the group members.

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      • Fine, Jason, ed. Harrison by the Editors of Rolling Stone. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.

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        Includes new essays and material previously published in Rolling Stone to create an overall appreciation of his work as a Beatle and beyond. Covers such diverse topics as memorabilia, songs, films, and his choice of instruments. The foreword by Olivia Harrison emphasizes his spirituality and his eclectic tastes in music.

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      • Harrison, George. I Me Mine. San Francisco: Chronicle, 2002.

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        Originally published as a signed, limited-edition run of two thousand copies in 1980 (cowritten with Derek Taylor), these are the author’s own reflections on his life and music up to that time. He emerges as a private and thoughtful man who uses his songs to express his joys and frustrations.

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      • Inglis, Ian. The Words and Music of George Harrison. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010.

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        Comprehensively explores—album by album—the development of Harrison’s music, much of which reflected, and portrayed, events in his own life. It argues that his output as a solo songwriter can only be understood within the context of his earlier experiences as a “pupil” of Lennon and McCartney in the Beatles.

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      • Leng, Simon. While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard, 2006.

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        An exhaustive record of the key places, dates, and personnel in Harrison’s solo recording career.

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      • Scorsese, Martin, dir. George Harrison: Living in the Material World. DVD. Santa Monica, CA: Universal, 2011.

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        Martin Scorsese’s documentary uses filmed contributions from Harrison’s family, friends, and fellow musicians to provide a compelling and convincing picture of his personal and professional lives. Released alongside Olivia Harrison’s book (New York: Abrams, 2011) of the same title, which brings together four hundred pages of photographs, notes, letters, lyrics, and diary extracts from the Harrisons’ own archives.

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      Ringo Starr

      Because he does not appear to possess the extravagant musical abilities of the other Beatles, Starr has escaped sustained critical attention. After the dissolution of the group, he embarked on a varied career that included several film appearances (alongside actors such as Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, and Peter Sellers), much subsequent television work (notably the Thomas The Tank Engine animated series), and a busy recording and performing history. Some of his recollections and observations are gathered together in Starr 2004. The only full-length biography is Clayson 1991. Wild 1992, Du Noyer 2001, and DeCurtis 2007 are among the small number of useful interviews.

      • Clayson, Alan. Ringo Starr: Straight Man or Joker? London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1991.

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        The sole attempt to produce a biography is a rather tedious and disappointing account that reveals little about its subject. However, it may be helpful for its presentation of factual material.

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      • DeCurtis, Anthony. “Ringo Starr.” Rolling Stone, 3–17 May 2007, 64–67.

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        This interview contains Starr’s assessments of present and past performers, and his views on the legacy of the 1960s. Published as part of Rolling Stone’s fortieth anniversary celebrations.

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      • Du Noyer, Paul. “Champagne Supernova.” Mojo, July 2001, 48–54.

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        A rare British interview in which Starr looks back over his career, and gives unusually informative answers to questions about his drumming style.

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      • Starr, Ringo. Postcards from the Boys: Featuring Postcards Sent by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. London: Cassell, 2004.

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        An entertaining and colorful collection of postcards sent to the author by the other Beatles over three decades. Each postcard is accompanied by his own commentary, which provides a serious or amusing reflection on his personal and professional life at the time.

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      • Wild, David. “Ringo Starr, Confident and Sober.” Rolling Stone, 9–23 July 1992, 87–89.

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        In an interview to promote the release of his album Time Takes Time, Starr offers his views on his encounters with drugs and alcohol, his drumming, his image, and his current relationship with George Harrison and Paul McCartney. He is particularly dismissive of many of the books and articles written about the Beatles.

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      Additional Sources

      Many of those involved in the story of the Beatles have offered their own versions of segments of the group’s career. Some contain little more than gossip and anecdotes, but there are others that supply exclusive and authentic insights. Best and Harry 1996 and Sutcliffe and Thompson 2001 provide recollections of the group’s formative years as witnessed by its two former members. Epstein 1998, Barrow 2005, and Bramwell and Kingsland 2005 offer internal details of the management and organization of the group in the 1960s. Lengthy sections on the creation of the Beatles’ record output are to be found in Martin and Hornsby 1979. The views of two former wives in Boyd and Junior 2007 and Lennon 2005 supply an interesting comparison of the Beatle’s inner circle.

      • Barrow, Tony. John, Paul, George, Ringo and Me. London: Andre Deutsch, 2005.

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        A frank account of the marketing and presentation of the group by the Beatles’ press officer. It includes surprising details of the informal and mutually beneficial relationship between the Beatles and the media in a time of relative innocence.

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      • Best, Pete, and Bill Harry. The Best Years of the Beatles. London: Headline, 1996.

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        One of several books written by the Beatles’ former drummer, this benefits from an unusually rich collection of photographs and illustrations. It contains relatively little musical detail, but convincingly chronicles the day-to-day activities of the group and its increasing confidence.

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      • Boyd, Pattie, and Penny Junior. Wonderful Today: The Autobiography. London: Headline, 2007.

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        An account of the author’s marriage to George Harrison (and later to Eric Clapton). Alternatively salacious and accusatory, it describes the couple’s celebrity lifestyle with great panache.

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      • Bramwell, Tony, and Rosemary Kingsland. Magical Mystery Tours: My Life with the Beatles. New York: Thomas Dunne, 2005.

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        The author draws on his status as a friend of the group in Liverpool, and his role within NEMS Enterprises and Apple, to present a vivid record of the Beatles at the height of their success. The recreated conversations may suffer from a degree of historical imagination, but it remains a plausible and attractive memoir.

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      • Epstein, Brian. A Cellarful of Noise. Rev. ed. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.

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        Written by the group’s manager in 1964 at the height of Beatlemania, the book not only offers an account of the strategy behind the Beatles’ spectacular impact around the world but discusses at length his hopes for the group’s future.

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      • Lennon, Cynthia. John. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2005.

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        A somewhat sentimentalized and subjective version of the author’s ten years with John Lennon, which nevertheless is impressive in its personal detail. It illuminates the challenges the couple faced in attempting to maintain an uneasy balance between a public career and a private life.

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      • Martin, George, and Jeremy Hornsby. All You Need Is Ears. New York: St. Martin’s, 1979.

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        The autobiography of the Beatles’ producer includes memories of his wartime career in the Fleet Air Arm and his early years as a producer of comedy records, but the overwhelming proportion of the book concentrates on his work with the Beatles and the musical and personal relationship he established with them.

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      • Sutcliffe, Pauline, and Douglas Thompson. The Beatles’ Shadow: Stuart Sutcliffe and His Lonely Hearts Club. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2001.

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        The sister of the Beatles’ former bass guitarist supplies a picture of his time with the group and the circumstances of his decision to leave. It discusses in detail Sutcliffe’s troubled relationship with John Lennon, and considers the way in which his months as a Beatle have shaped much of the family’s subsequent history.

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      LAST MODIFIED: 03/19/2013

      DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199757824-0085

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