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THE BEATLES | Top Ten Books
John | Paul | George | Ringo    

'To know, know, know them…'

The best books to read if you want to delve deeper into the extraordinary musical, social, and cutural phenomenon that was The Beatles. 

01

The Complete Beatles Chronicle  — Mark Lewisohn 

An astonishing body of work. From The Beatles Live! through to The Beatles Recording Sessions and The Complete Beatles Chronicle.

Always definitive, indispensable.

 

02

The Beatles: All These Years: Tune In  (Vol. 1/3)

— Mark Lewisohn 

The first of Lewisohn's three-volume magnum opus. Tune In was 10 years in the writing—and it shows—in attention to detail and in the telling. As it says on the back cover: 'Let's scrub what we know, or think we know, and start over: Who really were these people, and how did it all happen?'' Personally, I can't wait to Turn On and then Drop Out. 

 

03

“Love Me Do!” The Beatles’ Progress — Michael Braun

There’s no better fly-on-the-wall account of the band’s early days. A young American journalist does a double-take as the band sets out on its first, six-week British tour. Hard to find, but well worth hunting down.

 

04

Shout! The True Story of The Beatles | John Lennon —  Philip Norman

I've included both works here - as they appear to me to bookend Philip Norman's ever more acutely realised observations. 'Shout!' (1981) was the first real 'gritty unofficial' book about The Beatles. (Published but a year after John Lennon's murder, Paul McCartney rather famously re-titled it: 'Shite!') Nevertheless—first and last words, still well worth the candle.

 

05

The Beatles: The Authorised Biography

— Hunter Davies

The first and best ‘inside story’. First published in 1968. Dismissed by some as being too sanitized—and one too many unforced errors—they rather miss the point. Hunter Davies was there with The Fabs—with unrestricted access—at the very peak of the group's success. And the truth is he doesn't at all shy away from all the so-called 'gritty little facts'—and, rather more importantly, he doesn't make them up, either. It's also an elegantly written book—even though written at speed–now newly revised.

 

06

The Beatles: The Biography — Bob Spitz 

It's been said that: 'The heart of the matter can best be seen from afar'. Case in point. Mr Spitz is an American with eyes firmly set on the prize—The Beatles—from start to finish—in England and America. And very nicely done, too. At almost 1000 pages—a veritable treasure trove of a biography—nicely detailed and nicely voiced.

 

07=

The Rough Guide to The Beatles — Chris Ingham

A small book—but it packs an atomic four-four beat. A great little primer to The Beatles. Chris Ingham's nicely informed wit is ever at hand. It's like having a night out with your best friend down the pub—and being continually amazed at just how much he knows—and loves—The Beatles. Definitely worth the price of a round of drinks.

 

07=

The Beatles Diary. Volume 1: The Beatles Years — Barry Miles

A mostly all-text update of his earlier, large-format, illustrated The Beatles Diary—and in many ways all the better for it. 380+ pages—with just 16 pages of small black and white photos—but otherwise packed to the gills with cross-checked facts and details from a vast compendium of acknowledged sources. It's a very worthwhile resource.

 

08

How They Became The Beatles: A Definitive History of the Early Years 1960–1964 — Gareth L. Pawlowski

As untidily put together as The Beatles undoubtedly were in the early days, but such unadulterated fun. The lack of surface sheen only adds to the 'real feel' of the (re)telling by a real Beatles' fan. 

 

09

The Beatles: 10 Years That Shook The World 

MOJO - the rock music magazine - gathered together a veritable 'Who's Who' of rock journalism. A truly outstanding group edited by Paul Trynka: Bill Harry, Mark Lewisohn, Hunter Davies, Spencer Leigh, the late lamented Ian Macdonald, Chris Ingham, Nick Kent, Mark Ellen, David Fricke, Andy Gill, Paul Du Noyer, Robert Sandall et al. There's also a treasure trove of noted rock musicians who reflect on The Beatles and their music. Most excellent. (Nicely designed by Dorling Kindersley)

 

10

The Beatles: Anthology — The Beatles

The Fabs in their own words—even if their memories do differ at various times. Still a delight, though, especially when perused alongside yet another viewing of The Beatles: Anthology box set of DVDs (Blu-Ray anyone?)

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