Book on Beatles’ solo years a fresh read with a few faults

Robert Rodriguez
“Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles’ Solo Years, 1970-1980″
Backbeat Books (ISBN 978-0879309688)
Softcover, 475 pages, $19.99

By Gillian G. Gaar

Rodriguez was the co-author (with Stuart Shea) of “Fab Four FAQ,” which ended with the Beatles’ breakup. Soldiering on alone, he tackles the first decade of the solo years in a similar fashion. There are chapters dealing with each year of the decade, interspersed with chapters covering other topics (memorable live shows, best/worst charting singles, TV appearances, etc.). This means the story jumps back and forth in time, occasionally making it hard to follow. A good proofreader would have caught the more obvious typos (“Alan” Ginsberg), and the author’s decision to not name John Lennon’s killer (Mark Chapman is obliquely referred to as “the stranger”) is frankly bizarre — above all, a historian should have respect for the facts.

But after the same Beatle terrain has been endlessly replowed in countless books, it’s nice to have something that’s actually fresh to read. In the 1970s, the ex-Fabs were still influential figures, but their work has never been fully assessed. Here, George and Ringo are given equal time with John and Paul, and not just their best material. Some of the most interesting reading comes when Rodriguez lays out what he considers to be the worst solo songs. Details on solo side projects help flesh out the story, making this a book where even a die-hard fan will learn something.


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