By Gillian G. Gaar
Need a Fab Four fix? From novels and recipes to Beatles associates and tours, these seven Beatles-related books offer something for just about every taste.
If you already have Spencer Leigh’s “The Beatles in Liverpool” and “The Beatles in Hamburg,” you’ll want to pick up “The Beatles in America” (Metro) to complete the trilogy. The book provides a fun, concise distillation of all The Beatles’ live appearances in the U.S., along with a chapter on the subsequent British Invasion, interesting sidebars and amusing reproductions of ephemera.
“The Beatle Who Vanished,” by Jim Berkenstadt (Rock and Roll Detective Publishing) relates the largely unknown story of drummer Jimmie Nicol, who filled in for Ringo Starr on some Beatles dates in 1964, then became lost to history. It’s ultimately a sad story. After his fleeting taste of the high life, Nicol became increasingly bitter and paranoid, eventually quitting the music industry altogether in the 1970s. Who knew that he played on so many (mostly unsuccessful) records?
Al Sussman’s “Changin’ Times: 101 Days That Changed A Generation” (Parading Press) isn’t a Beatles book per se. But given Sussman is executive editor of “Beatlefan” magazine, you know The Beatles are going to get more than a name-check in this time-capsule study of Nov. 22, 1963, to March 1, 1964. Sussman sets up the context for the eventual Beatles “tsunami,” as he calls it, while covering other major events of the era in politics, entertainment and sports.
If you’ve been reading Jude Southerland Kessler’s “John Lennon Series” of historical novels, you’ll be pleased to know Volume Three, “She Loves You” (On The Rock Books) has been completed. It covers a turbulent period in The Beatles’ career, from May 1963 to February 1964, as the group rose to prominence. Interestingly, success hasn’t brought Lennon any contentment, as he becomes increasingly unsettled as the band’s profile rises. Kessler embellishes the story with transcripts of contemporaneous articles, enhancing the “you are there” feeling. The book also features an extensive interview with Cavern DJ/MC Bob Wooler.
If you’re handy in the kitchen, you’ll have fun with Lanea Stagg’s “Recipe Records” series. The third in the series, "Recipe Records: A Culinary Tribute to The Beatles” (Recipe Records, reciperecords.com), features recipes for a variety of cleverly-titled foods, such as “Stuffed Sgt. Peppers,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Slaw” and “I Am The Eggs, Man!” Be sure to check out the other two books, co-written with Maggie McHugh, which feature such delicacies as “Blueberry Hill Hamburger Soup” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Rum.”
“The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story” (M Press) is a fanciful graphic novel about The Beatles’ manager, story by Vivek Tiwary and art by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker. Though Tiwary writes that Epstein’s is a story “that changed my life,” he also admits that “Conveying the truth — while important — has never been my primary goal.” So look to this for a poetic reinterpretation of Epstein’s story, not a detailed examination of his life.
An advance look at a few pages from Chuck Gunderson’s “Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How The Beatles Rocked America” (self-published, somefuntonight.com) whets the appetite for this forthcoming book, which will look, in detail, at The Beatles’ North American tours. There are plenty of photos and memorabilia gracing the pages of this two-volume set, which will be packaged in a slipcase. GM