A Beatles Miscellany by John Van der Kiste

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We’re big fans of the Beatles here at Philadelphia RowHome Magazine. In case you forgot, we had a wonderful chat with our friend Larry Kane for the cover of our 2013 summer issue. You can read the interview, and the entire magazine, on our Issuu page. His book, When They Were Boys, is the perfect source of knowledge for anyone who wanted to know what it’s like to be up close and personal with John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Very recently, I was given a copy of another new book on the Beatles called A Beatles Miscellany. Our new friends over at Casemate Group in Havertown asked that we check out the book and let everyone know our thoughts. So here we go…

If you love the Beatles, or know someone who loves the Beatles, I really do encourage you to go out and grab a copy of A Beatles Miscellany by John Van der Kiste. The book is loaded with all sorts of facts about these lads, and although many die-hard fans may know most of the contents of this book, it’s really pretty great to have everything compiled into one handy paperback.

Impress your friends with the details of the Beatles’ origin- how they got their name, which members joined first, when they left, why they split. Yes yes, we all know the surface of this information, but the subtitle of the book is “Everything you always wanted to know about the Beatles but were too afraid to ask”. Don’t ask your fellow Beatles expert or consult Wikipedia. Here you have 144 pages that will do the talking for you.

There are some great quotes from fellow artists in A Beatles Miscellany. Billy Joel calls them the masters of melody, Sting says they are the reason he’s a musician, and Rubber Soul just took a hold of Bette Midler.

The Beatles “Inner Circle” consisted of many extraordinary producers, managers, journalists, musicians; and there are great bios on every single one of them.

Extensive narratives explain the relationship between the Beatles and some of music’s heavy-hitters: Bob Dylan, Elvis, the Rolling Stones, the Tremeloes, Badfinger.

My favorite part of the book was the list of Beatles’ performances, every single one of them, from 1960 to 1969. With a start in a coffee club in Liverpool, and the end on the roof of Apple headquarters in London, these boys definitely saw the world in their career. They came here to Philadelphia on September 2nd, 1964 and you can read all about it here. Their touring schedules were nothing short of impressive, what bands do such lengthy legs anymore? In 1962, for example, the Beatles went on tour with Roy Orbison from May 18th to October 29th, with just a few weeks off here and there. That wasn’t their only tour of the year though, they had been on the road in the months before and after as well.

From lists of every single album as a group (and some of the solo stuff), appearances on various TV shows, Beatles milestones over the years, arguments on controversial Beatles tunes, and items that sold the most at auctions, this book is just plain fun!. There’s so much content to explore. You can read it from front to back in a matter of days, like I did, or you can pick a chapter and spout out facts to whoever will listen.

Author John Van der Kiste has written over sixty books so far, mostly focusing on historical and royal biographies. He’s also a contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. His experiences and preferences in writing give Beatles fans a very unique view of their history. Like I said, a true fan most likely knows many of these facts already, but to have all of the Beatles knowledge in this handy format is really something worth adding to your personal library.

reviewed by Brenda Hillegas

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