So I finally finished reading the hefty 1000 page biography of The Beatles by Bob Spitz. It took a long time but I had such a fun time reading it. I am a big Beatles fan. My first English album was Rubber Soul which I bought at the Asiatic Departmental store while visiting Bombay for the first time in eight grade. For a small town guy like me, it was a big leap of faith. I just picked that one from rows and rows of cassettes in the store and popped it into the audio player of the cab while going back from Churchgate to Budhwar Park where I was staying with some relatives of my uncle. Needless to say, my uncle and aunty sitting in the backseat of the cab were horrified (they had been brought up on Vividh Bharti and Binaca Geetmala) and I was hooked.
I’ve always had most of their albums but surprisingly, I’ve not read too much about them. So this book which is both comprehensive and enjoyable was particularly rewarding. I loaded up my entire Beatles collection on my iPod and listened to their songs while reading about how many of those very songs came to life. The book covers childhood and adolescent of each of the Beatles in great details (John gets the most pages), talks in details about how the group came together and the long and arduous journey from the dingy bars of Liverpool to Beatlemania. Bob does not mince words while describing the negative sides of each of the Beatles (John has many while Ringo and George, as widely perceived come across as the nicest). Some of the details that particularly grabbed my attention:
- Beatles wanted Gandhi and Hitler, amongst many others to be part of the cover picture on Sgt. Pepper’s Band. EMI put paid to both suggestions. Hitler of course was out of the question and they took Gandhi out to avoid any backlash in international market, specially India
- Lots of pages are devoted to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Beatles stay in Rishikesh. It seems like that the popular wisdom that insists that George and John were disillusioned with the Maharishi because they saw him having sex with one of the American nurses is probably wrong. It might have been fueled by one of their cronies who was afraid that the Maharishi was holding too much sway on them
- John Lennon while in Rishikesh used to meditate without break for eight hours a day
Phew! What a story and what a journey and what songs!