The Beatles Anthology - This extraordinary project has been made possible because Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr have agreed to tell their combined story especially for this book. Together with Yoko Ono Lennon, they have also made available the full transcripts (including all the outtakes) of the television and video series The Beatles Anthology. Through painstaking compilation of sources worldwide, John Lennon's words are equally represented in this remarkable volume. Furthermore, The Beatles have opened their personal and management archives specifically for this project, allowing the unprecedented release of photographs which they took along their ride to fame, as well as fascinating documents and memorabilia from their homes and offices.
Beatles Book News: By George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, the autobiography of The Beatles has already attracted advance orders for 1.5 million copies. Total sales, once negotiations are completed for the book to be translated into Chinese, are expected to exceed 20 million. Sir Paul McCartney has been the driving force behind the memoir, persuading his fellow surviving band members Ringo Starr and George Harrison to participate in its writing. He told The Telegraph: "It dispels some of the myths and puts the record straight, as every Tom, Dick and uncle of a friend of the milkman has been writing books on the Beatles since 1963." Geoff Baker, the Beatles' press officer, said: "We have been staggered by the worldwide interest. The surviving Beatles have spent six years working on the book which provides the fullest and most candid account yet of the group's story. Its highlights include a definitive account of the band's early days, the Beatles' use of drugs and - most controversially - their decision to split up in 1970.
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Each page is brimming with personal stories and rare vintage images. Snapshots from their family collections take us back to the days when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard Starkey were just boys growing up in Liverpool. They talk in turn about those early years and how they came to join the band that would make them known around the world as John, Paul, George and Ringo. Then, weaving back and forth, they tell the astonishing story of life as The Beatles: the first rough gigs, the phenomenon of their rise to fame, the musical and social change of their heyday, all the way through to their breakup. From the time Ringo tried to take this drum kit home on the bus to their much anticipated audience with Elvis, from the making of the Sgt. Pepper album to their last photo session together at John's house, The Beatles Anthology is a once-in-a-lifetime collection of The Beatles' own memories.
Interwoven with these are the recollections of such associates as road manager Neil Aspinall, producer George Martin and spokesman Derek Taylor. And included in the vast array of photographs are materials from both Apple and EMI, who also opened their archives for this project. This, indeed, is the inside story, providing a wealth of previously unpublished material in both word and image.
Created with their full cooperation, The Beatles Anthology is, in effect, The Beatles' autobiography. Like their music has been a part of so many of our lives, it's warm, frank, funny, poignant and bold. At last, here is The Beatles' own story.
340,000 words and over 1300 images including unseen photographs and personal memorabilia
John: "The Sixties saw a revolution among youth--not just concentrating in small pockets or classes, but a revolution in a whole way of thinking. The youth got it first and the next generation second. The Beatles were part of the revolution, which is really an evolution, and is continuing. We were all on this ship--a ship going to discover the New World. And the Beatles were in the crow's nest."
Paul: "To thine own self be true." I think that was very apt with The Beatles. We always were very true to ourselves--and I think that the brutal honesty The Beatles had was important. So sticking to our own guns and really saying what we thought in some way gave some other people in the world the idea that they too could be truthful and get away with it, and in fact it was a good thing."
George: "The moral of the story is that if you accept the high points you're going to have to go through the lows. For The Beatles, our lives were a very heightened version of that: of how to learn about love and hate, and up and down, and good and bad, and loss and gain. It was a hyper-version of what everybody else was going through. So, basically, it's all good. Whatever happened is good as long as we've learnt something. It's only bad if we didn't learn: "Who am I? Where am I going? Where have I come from?"
Ringo: "They became the closest friends I'd ever had. I was an only and suddenly I felt as though I'd got three brothers. We really looked out for each other and we had many laughs together. In the old days we'd have the hugest hotel suites, the whole floor of a hotel, and the four of us would end up in the bathroom, just to be with each other."
Selection from the Book - April 1960:
Paul: IT was John and Stuart [Sutcliffe, the Beatles' original bass player] who thought of the name. They were art students and while George's and my parents would make us go to bed, Stuart and John could live the little dream that we all dream: to stay up all night. And it was then they thought up the name. One April evening in 1960, walking along Gambier Terrace by Liverpool Cathedral, John and Stuart announced: 'Hey, we want to call the band "The Beatles".' We thought, 'Hmm, bit creepy, isn't it?' 'It's all right, though; a double meaning.' One of our favourite groups, the Crickets, had got a dual-meaning name: cricket the game, and crickets the little grasshoppers. We were thrilled with that - we thought it was true literature. (We've spoken to the Crickets since, and found that they hadn't realised that we had a game called cricket. They never knew they had a second meaning.)
George: It is debatable where the name came from. John used to say that he invented it, but I remember Stuart being with him the night before.
There was the Crickets, who backed Buddy Holly, that similarity; but Stuart was really into Marlon Brando, and in the movie The Wild One there is a scene where Lee Marvin says: 'Johnny, we've been looking for you, the Beetles have missed you, all the Beetles have missed you.' Maybe John and Stu were both thinking about it at the time; so we'll leave that one. We'll give it 50:50 to Sutcliffe:Lennon.
Paul: In The Wild One, when he says, 'Even the Beetles missed ya!' he points to the motorcycle chicks. A friend has since looked it up in a dictionary of American slang and found that it's slang for 'motorcycle girls'. So work that one out!
George: Stuart was in the band now. He wasn't really a very good musician. In fact, he wasn't a musician at all until we talked him into buying a bass. We taught him to play 12-bars, like 'Thirty Days' by Chuck Berry. It was a bit ropey, but it didn't matter at that time because he looked so cool.
Paul: That spring of 1960, John and I went down to a pub in Reading, the Fox and Hounds, run by my cousin Betty Robbins and her husband. We worked behind the bar. At the end of the week we played in the pub as the Nerk Twins. We even made our own posters. Betty's husband turned me on to showbusiness in a big way. He'd been an entertainments manager at Butlins. He asked what we were going to open with, and we said 'Be Bop A Lula'. He told us: 'No good. You need to open with something fast and instrumental. This is a pub, a Saturday night, what else have you got?' We said, 'Well, we do "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise".' He said, 'Perfect, start with that, then do "Be Bop A Lula".' He was good like that, and I would remember his advice years later when we were organising our shows.
George: A lot was happening at the beginning of 1960. I remember there was a show at the Liverpool Stadium in which Eddie Cochran was due to appear, but he got killed a couple of days before so Gene Vincent topped the bill.
Ringo: I never forgave Eddie for that. I was so looking forward to seeing him.
George: Ringo was in that show with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. We weren't big enough to play (we didn't even have a drummer) and I remember thinking how we'd got to get our band together because the Hurricanes all had suits and dance steps - a proper routine. It was semi-professional; it looked impressive from where we were sitting.
Brian Cass had a band called Cass and the Cassanovas that also played. Somehow Cass has the ability to get gigs, and one night he put us in a show in a little club cellar, which was the first time we played as 'The Silver Beetles'. He'd actually wanted us to be Long John and the Pieces of Silver.
Paul: He said, 'What's your name?' We had just thought of 'The Beatles' so we thought we would try this out. Cass said, 'Beatles - what's that? It doesn't mean anything.' (Everyone hated the name, fans and promoters alike.) He asked John's name. John, who at that time was pretty much the lead singer, said, 'John Lennon.' - 'Right, Big John. . . Long John. . . OK, Long John Silver.' So we compromised and had Long John and the Silver Beetles. We would do anything for a job, so that's what we became.
George: He perceived John as being the leader because he was the biggest, the pushy one. He was the leader when it was the Quarry Men, and he was certainly the leader at this point. I think he is still the leader now, probably.
Paul: In May Larry Parnes came to town, auditioning. He was the big London agent. His acts nearly always had a violent surname. There was Ronnie Wycherley who became Billy Fury; and a less furious guy you have yet to meet. A sweet Liverpool guy - the first local man who made it, in our eyes. Marty Wilde was also in Larry's stable; he had another tempestuous surname. But Larry Parnes had some new singers and was looking for backing groups, and someone had told him there were a few groups in Liverpool. So he came up to the Blue Angel. All the groups in Liverpool were there and we were one of the bands.
George: Beforehand we went out and bought some string shoes with little white bits on top. We were very poor and never had any matching clothes, but we tried to put together a uniform - black shirts and these shoes. When we arrived at the club our drummer hadn't shown up, so Johnny Hutchinson, the drummer with Cass and the Cassanovas, sat in with us. I don't think we played particularly well or particularly badly.
Paul: We had to tell Stuart to turn the other way: 'Do a moody - do a big Elvis pose.' If anyone had been taking notice, they would have seen that when we were all in A, Stu would be in another key. But he soon caught up and we passed that audition to go on tour - not with a furious name at all, but with a guy called Johnny Gentle.
George: It was a bit of a shambles. It felt pretty dismal. But a few days later we got the call to go out with Johnny Gentle. They were probably thinking, 'Oh well, they're mugs. We'll send a band that doesn't need paying.'
Paul: Now we were truly professional, we could do something we had been toying with for a long time, which was to change our names to real showbiz names. I became Paul Ramon, which I thought was suitably exotic. I remember the Scottish girls saying, 'Is that his real name? That's great.' It's French, Ramon. Ra-mon, that's how you pronounce it. Stuart became Stuart de Staël after the painter. George became Carl Harrison after Carl Perkins (our big idol, who had written 'Blue Suede Shoes'). John was Long John. People have since said, 'Ah, John didn't change his name, that was very suave.' Let me tell you: he was Long John. There was none of that 'he didn't change his name': we all changed our names.So here we were, suddenly with the first of Larry's untempestuous acts and a tour of Scotland, when I should have been doing my GCE exams. A lot of my parents' hopes were going up the spout because I was off with these naughty boys who weren't doing GCEs at all.
George: I remember asking my big brother, 'Would you pack in work and have a go at this if you were me?' He said, 'You might as well - you never know what might happen. And if it doesn't work out you're not going to lose anything.' So I packed in my job, and joined the band full-time and from then nine-to-five never came back into my thinking. That was our first professional gig: on a tour of dance halls miles up in the north of Scotland, around Inverness. We felt, 'Yippee, we've got a gig!' Then we realised that we were playing to nobody in little halls, until the pubs cleared out when about five Scottish Teds would come in and look at us. That was all. It was sad, because we were like orphans. Our shoes were full of holes and our trousers were a mess, while Johnny Gentle had a posh suit. I remember trying to play to 'Won't you Wear my Ring around your Neck?' - he was doing Elvis's 'Teddy Bear' - and we were crummy. The band was horrible, an embarrassment. We didn't have amplifiers or anything. And we all slept in the van. We would argue about space. There weren't enough seats, and somebody had to sit on the inside of the mudguard on the back wheel. Usually Stu.
Paul: We did OK on that tour, playing church halls all over Scotland, places like Fraserburgh. It was great - we felt very professional. But we were endlessly on the phone to Larry Parnes's office, complaining that the money hadn't arrived. (Years later I said this on a radio programme and Larry threatened to sue me, because his aunties had got on to him: 'Larry, you didn't pay those nice Beatle boys.' That was a true shame in his book.)
For a while, when we returned, we became a backing group. We were still going around as the Silver Beetles but soon we started to drop the 'silver'; because we didn't really want it. John didn't wish to be known as Long John Silver any longer and I didn't wish to be known as Paul Ramon - it was just an exotic moment in my life.
George: We had a stream of drummers coming through. After about three of these guys, we ended up with almost a full kit of drums from the bits that they'd left behind, so Paul decided he'd be the drummer. He was quite good at it. At least he seemed OK; probably we were all pretty crap at that point. It only lasted for one gig, but I remember it very well. It was in Upper Parliament Street where a guy called Lord Woodbine owned a strip club. It was in the afternoon, with a few perverts - five or so men in overcoats - and a local stripper. We were brought on as the band to accompany the stripper; Paul on drums, John and me on guitar and Stuart on bass.She came out and gave us her sheet music: 'Now here are the parts for my act.' We said, 'What's that? We can't read it.' She told us it was 'The Gypsy Fire Dance'. We said, 'Well, how does that go? What's the tempo?' We decided to do 'Ramrod' instead, because we knew it, and then 'Moonglow'.
Paul: The Grosvenor Ballroom in Wallasey was one of the worst places; there would be a hundred Wallasey lads squaring up to a hundred lads from Seacombe and all hell would break loose. I remember one night a rumble had started before I realised what was happening. I ran to the stage to save my Elpico amp, my pride and joy at the time. There were fists flying everywhere. One Ted grabbed me and said, 'Don't move, or you're bloody dead!' I was scared for my life, but I had to get that amp.
John: And then we went to Hamburg.