The Beatles
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The Beatles

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,545 ratings  ·  50 reviews
In this behind-the-scenes look at the most famous musical group in history, Hunter Davies gives the complete story of the Beatles. As the only authorized biographer, Davies had full access to the Fab Four as well as their help and encouragement. He spent eighteen months with them when they were at the peak of their musical genius and at the pinnacle of their popularity, an...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 17th 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1968)
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I have no idea how I managed to own a first edition of this first majour bio of The Beatles (yes, the "t" should be capped). Published in 1968, when the group was still together and still producing hits, it was one of the first books to focus on rock stars. There are more than 30 pages of photos, many of which were taken just for the book itself, as this is the only authorized biography which was approved by all group members.

Too young to be familiar with the Fab Four, I nevertheless learned abo...more
Ridiculously enjoyable read. Major kudos for Ringo stories!! From childhood! Most Beatles books like to gloss over Starr as if he wasn't there... but according to Davies: Ritchie existed! *excitement*

John's chapter also makes me wanna reach thru time and kick him in the balls!

I've read dozens of Beatles-related books and this was by far the best one. It wasn't a Lennon based book, (as most Beatles biographies seem to be) and it covered all of the lads equally.
the masterpiece on The Beatles. Deeply researched and essentially accurate. Not spilling over with the usual gossip and rumours which are still regretfully being printed.
Apr 02, 2008 Trish rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Beatlemaniacs
I've read A LOT of Beatles books and this has by far been my favorite. There are stories in this book that are not in any other Beatle book I've read.
The classic first biography of the Beatles. I read the updated, updated (again) version. The original book ended with the band still together. That's where this version ends too, but it contains an afterward with reflections on how quickly the band went from tight friendship to nasty bickering, but not many other details. Davies points out that this period of the band's life has been well-documented other places. It would have been great, though, if Davies had originally followed the band throug...more
The original authorized Beatles biography is still a great source. This edition includes a recent postscript. Written in 1968, the seismic changes coming are barely hinted at. For instance the happy family (as portrayed) of John, Cynthia and Julian is in for a change very soon. The divisions of the White Album and Get Back/Let It Be are still in the future. This book is at its sharpest writing about the early days of the band, and is still a must read in that regard. So much more research and um...more
A great overall history of The Fab Four. Coming from a Beatle fanatic I would recommend this book at anyone who wants to read a legitament biography. Covers all aspects of their successes.
Alondra Maldonado
When you hear the two words: “the Beatles”, what image immediately pops into your head? Abbey Road? Yellow Submarine? Waving ‘hello’ at the JFK airport? Screaming fans? Who? Of course not! You’d have to be completely closed minded to have never heard of them. Whether or not you consider yourself a fan, it is hard to argue that the Beatles rank among one of the most popular and influential rock acts of all time. Although the Beatles sold millions of records, their significance cannot be measured...more
Adam Steinberg
The Book I read was a biography on the band that created a world wide frenzy near the "British Invasion", The Beatles. The book was written by Hunter Davies, a journalist and author who convinced Paul McCartney to collaborate and make an official Beatles biography. The book is filled with a lot of background information on the famous four, as well as other important people along the way. Having been published for the first time in 1968, before the Beatles were broken up, the book, or the earlies...more
A first-hand and detailed account about the Beatles' early years leading up to their success, first published in 1968.

I read the 40th anniversary edition, with an introduction from 2009, as well as a "momento mori" about the people surrounding the Beatles who have died up to that point.

I was slightly irritated by Davies' comments such as "as Beatles' fans will know" etc. in the introduction, but found it otherwise a good addition to the book.
The original chapters are easy to read, following th...more
Larissa Deyneka
While I am never certain whenever someone pens the words "the true story" this was the perfect bookend to my class reading last fall. It is a quick, easy and fun read that also ties in nicely to the film "Good Ol' Freida" for anyone who has seen the documentary. I think it maybe took me less than a week to plow through it.
Not a patch on Philip Normans more extensive (and likely more accurate) account. Authorised biographies should always be taken with a pich of salt but the notion that in 1968 each one of the Beatles did not drink or take drugs made it a bit ridiculous and wrecked it a bit for me.
Jack Fleming
Some interesting background on the fab 4 and their respective characters but feels dated and suffers from having to conceal a lot of things that we as an audience already know about, such as the drug taking. An interesting document of the time though.
Jean-denis Crouhy
Hunter Davies qui a suivi et rencontré tous les membres des Beatles (ainsi que ceux qui ont participé à l'évolution du groupe : Brian Epstein, Georges Martin...) nous offre un livre passionnant sur l'histoire du plus grand groupe de pop de tous les temps.

Hunter Davies commente les enregistrements des albums cultes auxquels il a pu assister ainsi que le point de vue de chacun des protagonistes sur ces mêmes enregistrements (avec bien sûr, leurs propres point de vue sur cette fabuleuse aventure q...more
I will forever love their music but, as I've now read Hunter Davies perspective on The Beatles they've kind of lost their magic in my eyes. Most of them seem to be ungrateful gits who did not appreciate their fans and their climb to stardom. I lost a lot of admiration for George Harrison who was my favorite of the four as he seemed to really be the most unlikable Beatle after reading this. It just kind of disappointed me as a fan. It was interesting to learn something about them though, as I did...more
Russell Ince

Thanks to its being the only ever authorized biography of the Beatles, along with the Beatles Anthology book, this is probably one of the most important reads for Beatles nerds. It paints a vivid picture of all four Beatles and their personal stories, but does not have much to say about the music itself.

Quote: “Both he [John:] and Paul think that the most important thing about success is will power. ‘Everyone can be a success. If you keep saying that enough times to yourself you can be. We’re no...more
Checked out from the library over and over again and read in the very early 1970s. As an authorized bio it was naturally had a definite picture to paint but a great book with lots of lovely photos and great anecdotes. I wish I owned this book.
I read what I believe was a first edition copy of this book (It was originally published in 1968) at my junior high library in 7th grade and I ate it up. It's hard to give an accurate rating of how good the book is since I read it so long ago, but it's a classic and I adored it at the time (I was Beatles obsessed then). If that copy is still at the library, they should take good care of it. Similar copies are selling online for $200.
Leonard Entwistle
Read this on holiday excellent perfect choice. Brought back lots of memories from my early childhood. I'd forgotten what an impact Beatlemania had on everyone at the time. 40th anniversary edition takes you right back to the original 68 version intact but with updates on subsequent events. Very well written, honest and a great insight into how the Beatles functioned and then didn't!
This is a fantastic read for Beatles fans. I enjoyed learning about the pre-Beatles days and how each one grew up and eventually met to form the group. Unfortunately I'm not as much of a Beatles fan as I thought (sorry) and lost interest in all the detail. Regardless, the Beatles were phenomenal and this book brought to light how the music developed along with rock culture.
Jane Avery
I first read this book in 1972 while a senior in high school. I loved the Beatles' music and wanted to find every piece of information available. It is an unbiased fairly accurate account of what occurred in the 1960's. The book is enjoyable to read and well written.
I still go back and read it every five years or so to keep my recollections fresh.
Kelly Ferguson
Worthwhile as a study of the early Beatles written at the time. The author had access to the actual Fab Four and knew them personally, so he has quotes that are his alone. His psychological insights could have been sharper, although again, he didn't write this book with the benefit of hindsight.
The first really accurate book about the Beatles, and I believe to this day, the only authorized one. This was written around the time of Sgt. Pepper, so it doesn't include the breakup, and it is a bit superficial, but it is required reading for any Beatlemaniac (like me!)
Graceanne Bowe
I personally think this book is "the" definitive biography of the Beatles. At the time I read it, all of the Beatles were still living, and I believe updates have been added through the years. If you love the Beatles, you will love this book.
One of the first definitive biographies of the Fab Four. It's chock full of interesting details, but if you're looking for juicy new revelations you'll have to look elsewhere. Most informed Beatles fans have heard these stories before.
"Though works on the band are legion, this remains one of the best." � Library Journal

Listen to The Beatles on your iPhone, desktop, or smartphone.
Solid authorized biography of the group from 1968. Many mistakes, however, which no one realized when it was written. Still, some great inside stories from the horse's mouth and a marvelous look at the Sgt. Pepper sessions.
I'm ashamed to admit I used to not know a whole lot about the Fab Four. But I do now! It's a great read and, in my opinion, really makes them seem less like cool, super stars and more like regular people. Which they are.
Mostly dated now, and better told elsewhere, but I found Chpt 30 "The Beatles and Their Music" detailing their creative process - how songs got written and tracks laid down - to be of great importance.
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  • The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970
  • A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song
  • Many Years from Now
  • The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles
  • A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles
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  • Lennon Remembers: The Full Rolling Stone Interviews from 1970
  • Magical Mystery Tours: My Life with the Beatles
  • The Beatles: Unseen Archives
  • Tell Me Why: The Beatles: Album By Album, Song By Song, The Sixties And After
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  • Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America
  • Revolution In The Head: The Beatles Records and the Sixties
  • Postcards from the Boys
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  • Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 and 1965 Tours That Changed the World
Thompson Edward Hunter Davies, formerly an editor for the Sunday Times of London, is the author of numerous books, including The Glory Game. He lives in London.
More about Hunter Davies...
The Glory Game Flossie Teacake's Fur Coat A Walk Along The Wall Wainwright: The Biography Behind the Scenes at the Museum of Baked Beans An Odd-ysey

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