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The Beatles

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  2,693 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
alternate cover for: ISBN 0393315711/ISBN13 9780393315714
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
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 17th 2004 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published 1968)
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Apr 07, 2014 GoldGato rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing
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
Adam Crossley
Oct 29, 2014 Adam Crossley rated it it was amazing
If you dig The Beatles this book is definitely worth reading.

The great thing is it captures them at the height of their powers. The author spent a lot of time hanging out with them and gives insights into their creative process and lots of space for The Beatles themselves to share their own opinions. In particular I enjoyed reading Lennon's opinions on the phoniness of high brow art. The book is written pre Yoko Ono, so I wonder if he would change some of these opinions, but it is interesting to
Nov 28, 2011 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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!
Apr 02, 2008 Trish rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 24, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing

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.
Jan 05, 2008 Arnold rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-beatles
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.
Ilya Puchkovsky
May 20, 2016 Ilya Puchkovsky rated it really liked it
В книге Дэвис, взявший на себя обязанность биографа, описывает период примерно до 1968 года, когда внутри ансамбля начались появляться проблемы. Группа тогда уже находилась на грани распада. Собственно основой произведения являются четыре биографии музыкантов от юношеских лет и до всемирного успеха. Достаточно подробно рассказано о многих событиях и людях: Гамбургских гастролях, Стю Сатклифе и его смерти, знакомстве с Брайаном Эпстайном, участии Пита Беста и его «отставке», первых записях под ру ...more
Jan 05, 2014 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 02, 2014 John rated it liked 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.
Jan 13, 2009 Gillian rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 31, 2016 Cammie rated it it was amazing
I started this book some time last year, but put it down and then never picked it up again until just recently. The reason for that (the long absence) is because of how long the introduction is, and I guess I gave up, like I wasn't ever going to get to the actual beginning of the book. After starting it this time, though, I don't see what my problem was because every thing, even the introduction, was interesting to at least some extent.

I loved learning more about one of my favorite bands to eve
If yr interested in pete best or Beatles parents this is the book for you. The 'official' that john said was shit.
Mary Lou
Feb 11, 2017 Mary Lou rated it really liked it
Sanitized biography, authorized by Brian Epstein. Great access. Interesting to read again so many years (and revelations) later, in retrospect.
Jan 09, 2017 J rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 02, 2016 Dustybooks rated it liked it
Reading this as an adult was a very different experience from when I first encountered it as a preteen Beatles fan. Mine is the original 1968 edition so still "authorized" and therefore whitewashed, which is especially (egregiously) noticeable in the passages that discuss Brian Epstein's sexuality. Davies is a skilled writer, though, and while he rushes madly through the Beatlemania years and is a little too fixated on the band members' fortunes and lifestyles, where he shines uniquely is in bei ...more
Alondra Maldonado
Dec 08, 2012 Alondra Maldonado rated it it was amazing
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
Becky Cresswell
Dec 26, 2016 Becky Cresswell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
read back in 2010...
Adam Steinberg
Sep 09, 2013 Adam Steinberg rated it liked it
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
Nov 29, 2016 Aaron rated it really liked it
A lot of this book felt very basic, and I was pretty disappointed, until pretty late in it, when the author spent time with the band while they were writing songs at home and in the studio. That was exactly what I was most interested in, the creative process. "Watching" John and Paul work on the lyrics to With A Little Help From My Friends, or recording Getting Better was fascinating. As equally impressive, or maybe disconcerting, was hearing what the Beatles thought of their music during this t ...more
Nov 19, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it
Good book. The writing is a bit choppy - and the author agrees - having most of the book come from a compilation of handwritten notes; that is, it feels like a collection of notes...but good ones. I've been a Beatles fan since 1975 and I don't think I ever read a book about them. I've read articles and watched documentaries, but no books.

This book was first completed in 1968 before the Beatles broke up; in this new edition, he adds a notes section from 1985 and another one from 2009.

I thought i
Oct 08, 2011 Janina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, biography
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
Jun 13, 2011 Kate rated it it was ok
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
Dec 23, 2009 Russell Ince rated it really liked it

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
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
Tom Schulte
Jul 28, 2015 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally out in the 70s, this book was an authorized biography of the group from the rise of Beatlemania to its height (including disabled brought for miraculous backstage healing ) the to end of the touring Beatles, making a complete mandala of this epic pop group. It is quite insightful and peering and this audio edition has updates and additional material from the 1985 edition (after Lennon's death and the definitive end of the group without hope of reunion) and 1996 looking back on solo ca ...more
Sep 03, 2008 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, the-1960s
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.
Jesse Richards
This seemed a somewhat rambling, inconsequential, and standard version of a biography ... except for two thrilling parts. One was a long section describing Paul and John's writing process, as the writer sat in on them writing several famous songs. Really incredible that we have that documented. The other, less important but still fascinating part was a transcribed conversation with Paul in 1985, which was incredibly honest and vulnerable.
Apr 08, 2015 Gwen rated it it was amazing
I read The Beatles by Hunter Davies when I was a teenager, when the book first came out. As a die hard Beatle fan I devoured every word. Of course, it was a sanitized biography of the boys as it was authorized, but I didn't know that then (nor did I care) and the Beatles, Brain Epstein and the author didn't want anyone to know it as well. It still enthralled me. Such fond memories fill my mind whenever I hear this book mentioned.

I recommend this book to anyone, especially young Beatle fans.
Sam Becker
Coming from someone who's read many of Beatles biographies, this is far superior than any other. It offers in-depth accounts of many stories about The Beatles (anywhere from early childhood to post-Beatles). Nothing compares to this book, you can tell The Beatles trusted Hunter Davies with their personal information. All though a somewhat long read, this book is worth it for any Beatles fan.
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John's comment on The Beatles by Hunter Davies 1 5 Apr 08, 2016 12:39AM  
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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...

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