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THE PEOPLE  |  Top Ten Books
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'With a little help from my friends…' 

The best books to read if you want to find out more about the many people closely associated with The Beatles throughout their lives and careers

01

The Ultimate Beatles Encyclopaedia — Bill Harry

Bill Harry's more often than not first-hand knowledge of all the many people he writes about is unbeatable—beyond scholarly. Delve even deeper with his individual books on John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Ignore the occasional bits of errata that pop in some of the editions of his many books—that some readers complain about—it's the breadth and depth of Bill Harry's knowledge that is incontestable and the true delight for any serious fan of The Beatles.

 

02

Brian Epstein — Ray Coleman

Ray Coleman is always a delight to read. His biography Brian Epstein: The Man Who Made the Beatles—the book that first alerted me to the Sam Leach affair—is key to understanding The Beatles' rise to worldwide success. A fitting tribute..

 

03

In My Life: The Brian Epstein Story — Debbie Geller Edited by Anthony Wall

The companion book to the BBC TV Arena's excellent documentary brings Brian Epstein front and centre to The Beatles story. It presents a series of reminiscences by his family and friends—as well as provides notes from his personal diaries. One cannot but be moved by the man—how he dealt with the difficulties in his life—and his unwavering belief in The Beatles.

 

04

A Cellarful of NoiseThe Autobiography of the Man Who Made The Beatles — Brian Epstein 

Again, as you read this, you cannot but be moved by Brian Epstein, the man—how he dealt with the difficulties in his life—and his unwavering belief in The Beatles. The words and thoughts are his—even though it was ghost-written by Derek Taylor, who later went on to become a trusted confidante and Apple Corps. insider. In the Rhino edition of the book there's an introductory essay ‘With A Little Help From Their Friend…’ by Martin Lewis—a renowned Beatles expert—that's a wonderful read.

 

05

All You Need Is Ears — George Martin

Warm, witty, wonderful. (And what ears!) But then I'm an unabashed fan of the man. Without whom etc. …

 

06

John Lennon: Vols. I & II — Ray Coleman

Even with all the millions of words that have been written about John Lennon—most by people who never met or spoke or spent time with the man—or who have a particular glass to look through that invariably casts their own dark shadows—Ray Coleman's books still stand like a beacon. 

 

07

Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now — Miles

Written by a lifelong close confidante, a lot of people see this book as being nothing more than a PR piece for Paul. They miss the point. It's Paul. Still complex. Still trying to deal with all that happened—the staggering success—and afterwards—including the death and its later ramifications—of his best mate—his other working half—John Lennon. As ever, Miles goes the distance—without apology.

 

08

Stuart Sutcliffe: The Lost Beatle (Backbeat) — Alan Clayson & Pauline Sutcliffe

Stu Sutcliffe was so much more than simply 'the cool one' with the 'dark glasses' and 'New Wave-style' haircut. His influence on the early Beatles—and on John Lennon in particular—is incalculable. And not merely in attitude, much more a way of seeing the world. Alan Clayson does a fine job here bringing the fine artist that was Stu Sutcliffe back to life. Stu's life—and his relationship with Astrid Kirchherr—is also celebrated in the film Backbeat. Ignore any criticisms as to the film's accuracy etc.—love is all you need—and the film very definitely has its heart in the right place.

 

09

Beatle! The Pete Best Story—Pete Best & Patrick Doncaster

Still the best of the many books about Pete Best. First published in 1985. Written by the man himself with the late Patrick Doncaster. And not for the first or last time does Pete prove himself to be a man of grace and fortitude. He was The Beatles drummer for two years—from August 1960 through August 1962—at an atomic four-beats to the bar and counting. 

 

10

The Birth of The Beatles  (The Rocking City – UK) 

— Sam Leach 

This is one of my all time favourite books about The Beatles. It puts you right there—in the clubs and on the streets of Liverpool—in the very early days of the group. There's really nothing else quite like it—certainly nothing else to touch it. It's funny, untidy, funny, irrepressible, funny, exhilarating, funny—sometimes even sad—but bubbly and boisterous in the extreme. Much, as I suspect, is the author, Sam Leach, himself. Long may he rock… Long may he be regarded as a true Liverpool treasure. 

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