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The Beatles: The Biogr...
 
by
Bob Spitz
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The Beatles: The Biography

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  6,696 ratings  ·  328 reviews
As soon as The Beatles became famous, the spin machine began to construct a myth--one that has continued to this day. But the truth is much more interesting, much more exciting, and much more moving. In this bestselling book, Bob Spitz has written the biography for which Beatles fans have long waited. 32 pages of b/w photos.
ebook, 992 pages
Published June 25th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brian Levinson
Holy crap is this book long. And informative. Also fun to read, so yay. Here's some fun stuff I learned:

1. They all had gonorrhea when they recorded "Love Me Do."
2. John was a huge asshole.
3. Brian Epstein would invite really rough dudes back to his house to beat the crap out of him.
4. Yoko was even worse than John.
5. Paul was kind of a dick, too.
6. But Ringo was a nice guy.
7. During early Beatles concerts, theater owners or whoever would wheel retards into the front row until John started makin
...more
Duffy Pratt
The opening chord of A Hard Day's Night. George, on a twelve string, plays a Gsus chord. From bass to treble that's G,C,F,A,C,G. On a twelve string guitar, the bottom four notes get doubled at the octave, while the top two are doubled in unison. Underneath, Paul plays a D. And John strums a Dsus chord, ADADG, leaving out the bottom string. So from bass to treble we get the following: D, G, A, C, D, F, G, AA, CCC, DD, F, GG, A. The result is a perfect collaboration, and a beautiful example of the ...more
Russ
Jan 12, 2008 Russ rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beatles fans with an open mind
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
e.a.
Jul 26, 2007 e.a. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
I'm a huge Beatles fan. HUGE. And this book was telling me things I didn't know. This is a brilliant book that made me completely bereft when I was finished with it.

The first hundred pages gave me the impression that it was going to be yet another John-worshiping biography, but if anything, Spitz pulls no punches when it comes to Lennon, while also managing to portray Paul as much more than the cheery one (or the Machiavellian one, which is the other typical McCartney you see in band biographie
...more
Meg
Still finishing this up, but it's certainly the most comprehensive Beatles bio out there, and very well-written and readable. The best chapters are probably the school years and the Hamburg period which the author fleshes out with much more detail than I've ever encountered. He also has a talent for making it feel immediate when you are reading, with great descriptive passages that give you a sense of what the dives in Hamburg were like and just how grueling the Beatles early touring schedule wa ...more
Paul
Well, I only read the last half, to see what jolly Bob Spitz could do with the tale of hippy woe which is the decline & fall of the four jolly boys. I was expecting a whole lot of fun to be had in the style of Bob's outrageous biography of the other Bob, Dylan. In that one, Spitz makes up whole conversations, assumes things when he hasn't got any facts or sources, jumps into Dylan's head to riff on what he "probably" would have been thinking, kicks him when he's down, and all in all has a ri ...more
Paul Dinger
It's all Yoko's fault the Beatles broke up and Bob Spitz does take the time to explain why. Actually, she just brought out the discontent that was already there. My cousin once told me success was the kiss of death to a rock band. The money comes in, you began to believe your own press, etc. What made the Beatles great is that they never rested on their laurels, but that also brought about their demise. They reached a pinnacle no other band will ever reach. They stopped touring, they stopped rel ...more
Mike
A threshold book. If your interest in The Beatles is only so-so, you'll be bored stiff by the book and I suspect you won’t make it to page one-hundred. The writing is only fair--in style not quite historical, not quite journalistic, and not quite pure tabloid-y entertainment--and the substance is frankly too thin to warrant eight-hundred plus pages of reading for all but the most maniacal of Beatle maniacs. For good or bad, I am such a one. And so I raced through it over a long weekend.

It doesn
...more
Tami
Aug 25, 2008 Tami rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die hard classic rock/ Beatles fans
Recommended to Tami by: Mojo magazine (classic rock periodical)
Spitz goes into the deep painstaking details that die hard Beatles fans are looking for in a biography. I've read a few of them and this is by far the best. Its unique in that it goes beyond a simple biography to tell the story with feeling and personality. At times the story read like a work of fiction- Spitz treats the Beatles like characters in a novel and tries to get into their motivations and desires. Very easy to get into from both the rock biography point of view and as a story- even if ...more
Caroline
Rating for the quality of the book: 4 out of 5
Rating for how much I enjoyed the book: 2 out of 5

I realized as I was finishing this book that I wished I hadn't read it. Don't get me wrong - it was well-written and well-researched and I learned a great deal I didn't know about the Beatles. And therein lies the problem.

There is a whole lot I learned in this book that I wished I didn't know. I mean, I knew there was drug use. I knew there were countless affairs. I knew that none of them were standup
...more
Rebecca
This Beatles biography (now considered the "definitive" one) is very well-written and full of a lot of colorful, interesting detail. As a long-time Beatles fan, I thought I was already pretty familiar with the Beatles' trajectory, but I learned many things I hadn't known about the boys before. And a lot of it I kind of wish I had remained ignorant about.

While this book gave me a new appreciation for the Beatles as musicians, I felt really disappointed and even a little disgusted at who they were
...more
Chris Q. Murphy
Aug 21, 2007 Chris Q. Murphy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: beatle fans with a lot of time on their hands.
having spent the better part of the last 15 years ingesting any written documentation of the beatles lives and careers that i could get my grubby paws on, i was fully prepared to be undewhelmed by yet another lengthy beatle book; so it was thrilling for me to find a text that not only provided me with new fab four facts, but also offered new insight into the same stories i have been reading for so long. while this book is decidedly "john-centric" and spends far more time documenting the first-ha ...more
Rich Meyer
One of the better rock biographies I've read as of late, this one really gets down into the history of the Fab Four and all the dirt and eccentricities that came out of the Beatles, Beatlemania, and the eventual personality clashes as they grew older.

Personally, I've never quite understood the popularity; until Rubber Soul and Revolver, their music was pretty staid and lackluster - some good riffs and licks, a good backbeat, but nothing out of the ordinary. I know it was their Beatlemaniac arri
...more
John
Good info on the pre-stardom Liverpool/Hamburg stuff; after that, it's pretty hard to come up with info that hasn't been written a zillion times before. One annoyance: the author had the habit of ending chapters with such portentious cliches as: "Little did they know all that was about to change", which were doubly ill-conceived since anybody shelling out the cash for this book already knows what's coming next.
Ryan
I didn't have tons of exposure to the Beatles growing up and while I realized they were part of - and had made - history, they lived in a "pop music" category in my head but weren't anything special. Then I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and he uses them as an example of the 10K hour rule - to be an expert you must have put in 10K hours of work. Gladwell briefly discusses their time in Hamburg, how the whole "hard days night" wasn't just a song title - I was intrigued. I listened to as many o ...more
Tyler
Synopsis: This is the decisive biography for the Beatles. Published in 2005, it includes over 100 pages of notes for a book that was obviously painstakingly researched and carefully written. The book covers each of the Beatles from birth (including a history of their parents) and then follows the Beatles up through their tumultuous breakup in 1970. Nothing from the Beatles past is off-limits in the book. The book details Beatlemania and their encounters and addictions to drugs, sex, music and mo ...more
maricar
I’m telling myself, as I pulled Bob Spitz’s The Beatles: The Biography off the bookstore shelf, that reading yet another Beatles book is superfluous. I mean, what else could possibly be new? And I’m not saying that because I consider myself a Beatles expert.

pfft…hardly.

But there is the cynicism that, unless the author had a place in that coveted inner-sanctum of the FabFour, there really couldn’t be any other tidbit that can be dished out that hasn’t been told in the past 3 or 4 books I’ve rea
...more
Molly
This is an excruciatingly poorly written book that still manages to tell a great story. Tiresomely exhaustive near the beginning, it forces you to wade through much flowery language and such unnecessary flourishes as tracing John and Paul's respective ancestry back to Ireland and a discourse on the Liverpool shipping industry; given how much of it is filler, it's unconscionable that the book runs nearly 900 pages. Quotations are unforgivably mangled, with far too much fussily inserted in bracket ...more
Kristen
I have been a huge fan of the Beatles for most of my life and have had this book in my pile of to-be-read books for a couple of years. I have put off reading it, one, because it is a huge book and two, because I was not sure that I wanted to learn all the horrible details concerning my heroes lives. In the end, I am glad that I read this book because it was extremely well researched and written. I would say, like a lot of other reviewers, that the author’s main focus does seem to be on John Lenn ...more
Wade
Amazing, sad, disturbing, funny, ridiculous, disgusting, unbelievable, humorous, awe-inspiring… basically just about every type of emotion that could be experienced in reading a book. This is a very through account of The Beatles. It starts with a history of Liverpool and then takes you from the beginning of John, Paul, George and Ringo’s life and shows all that the band went thorough in it’s formation and rise in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Then the absurdity of Beatlemania. And everything th ...more
Stephanie Layton
Jun 10, 2007 Stephanie Layton rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: obviously....
Five stars for information- I wanted to know the history of the Beatles and I got it. This fatty novel is extremely informative (and supposedly the most accurate of its kind to date) without being dry. And just for the record: George Harrison is underrated. AND the author CRACKS me up, because seriously- every chapter ends with a cliff-hanger like this:

"But for Brian Epstein...the worst was still to come."
"And in those ten minutes...he made the biggest mistake of his life."
"And if I had a dime f
...more
Michael
I can't vouch one way or the other for the accuracy of this book. Although I've listened to the Beatles for over 20 years (they were the first band I liked) I never knew the details of their lives and their fame. As a result I have no problem with giving the book five stars. Spitz made the gods human for me and I appreciate it. I never knew what a prick Paul was, for instance, or that George garnered so little respect from the two main stars of the show.

Is it better to burn out quickly or linger
...more
Cathy
I grew up listening to The Beatles and pondering their album covers, so for me the best parts of this book are the descriptions of their recording sessions, tracking each song's evolution from its earliest inspiration to the final overlay of zany sound effects. Fascinating to learn that The Beatles often turned up at Abbey Road minimally prepared, with maybe one song in mind for the album, and the rest came as a result of shared work in the studio. All four Beatles are portrayed sympathetically ...more
Chris
I am back into reading biographies and this well annotated story of the fab four and their interactions captured my interest. A few year older than I, the mop heads dominated rock and roll during my college, medical school and early residency years. I didn't listen to music then, but the Beatles are now my favorites on iTunes. I broadcast their music as I ride my bike on Cycle Oregon and riders young and old still appreciate the Beatles.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney were companions from age 1
...more
Randy

The dust cover of this extensive history of The Beatles (from childhood to partnership breakup) is a photo of a gigantic head with four faces; one brain with four aspects. The Beatles became an entity, a being, a life form of its own separate from the individuals—John, Paul, George and Ringo. Many, many Beatles fans know too much about The Beatles. There are many reader reviews of this book on Amazon and a number of complaints about inaccuracies. I haven’t read anything about the lads before now
...more
Amie
Inconsistent, riddled with errors, inaccuracies and wrong information. Lots of mistakes. Such as photos from 1960 and 1961 being labeled as being at the Star Club, which didn't open until '62. States that George met Pattie Boyd on the set of "Help!" when they actually met on the set of "A Hard Day's Night". Just a couple of examples. Terrible book. And when the list of errors was pointed out to the author, he just insulted those who were telling him. Isn't that nice? Wanker.
Karen
I quit reading about half way through the book. It is really well written and tons of details. I stopped reading because it was taking my love of the Beatles into a dark place. All the drama and true life underhanded ways made me really sad. I knew some stuff but it was just not nice. I know it is the real world but I just want to listen and enjoy their music. Learned a lesson on what not to read.
Jlspake
It took me several months of stopping and starting this book, but I 'grew up' on the Beatles so I knew I'd finish it. Quite good, if LONG. I'm a fan, though; can't help it. Fascinating to follow their insane career as a group and see the chronological recordings fall into place. I also referred to Mark Lewisohn's The Complete Beatles Chronicles during the reading.
Philip Levy
Feb 14, 2013 Philip Levy is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I am in the midst of this book and enjoying it at the end of the day. I am reading it on my iPad though which sounds recommended due to the book's size. But there is another reason for liking the digital version. i am loving jumping over to youtube to seek out all the more obscure skiffle or early rock songs Spitz mentions. What a great time.
Marguerite
An exhaustive look at The Beatles by a writer who obviously loves music and (some of) the folks who make it. There's great background about Liverpool and the circumstances from which the band members came. But Spitz is best when writing about the music:
"Please Please Me may have been unpolished, but not unexceptional. Only a sigh longer than two minutes, it rocked the lofty studio like a small explosion, its beat unleashed to startling intensity: a bass throbbing faster than an accelerated hear
...more
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Bob Spitz is the award-winning author of The Beatles, a New York Times best seller, as well as seven other nonfiction books and a screenplay. He has represented Bruce Springsteen and Elton John in several capacities. His articles appear regularly in magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times Magazine; The Washington Post; Rolling Stone; and O, The Oprah Magazine, among others.
More about Bob Spitz...
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child The Saucier's Apprentice: One Long Strange Trip Through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Beatles, Beatlemania, and the Music that Changed the World Dylan: A Biography Barefoot in Babylon: The Creation of the Woodstock Music Festival, 1969

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“Later, when the other Beatles arrived, the crowd in the street had swelled to an estimated twenty-thousand, some of whom were whipped up in a terrific heat. Others, many of them young girls who had been waiting since dawn, suffered from hunger and exhaustion. The police force, which had been monitoring the situation nervously, called in the army and navy to help maintain order, but it was short-lived. By late afternoon, with chants of "We want the Beatles!" ringing through the square, the shaken troops, now four-hundred strong, felt control slipping from their grasp. They didn't know where to look first: at the barricades being crushed, the girls fainting out of sight, the hooligans stomping on the roofs of cars or pushing through their lines. A fourteen-year-old "screamed so hard she burst a blood-vessel in her throat." It was "frightening, chaotic, and rather inhuman," according to a trooper on horseback. There most pressing concern was the hotels plate-glass windows bowing perilously against the violent crush of bodies. They threatened to explode in a cluster of razor-sharp shards at any moment. Ambulances screamed in the distance, preparing for the worst; a detachment of mounted infantry swung into position.” 1 likes
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