Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles' Rise to the Top” as Want to Read:
When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles' Rise to the Top
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles' Rise to the Top

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  178 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
This is the story of the Beatles' harrowing rise to fame: focusing on that seven-year stretch from the time the boys met as teenagers to early 1964, when the Fab Four made their momentous first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. From the boys' humble beginnings in Liverpool, to the cellars of Hamburg, When They Were Boys includes stories never before told, including the h ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published July 30th 2013 by Running Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When They Were Boys, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about When They Were Boys

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
May 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was hoping that an editor seriously attacks this before it's published, but since that's in two months it probably won't happen.

Here's the problem: repetition. Every time Joe Ankrah is mentioned, there's also a mention of his group the Chants and how Paul (and the Beatles) broke through racial lines for them. Once would have enough. And then Kane falls into Dan Brownian writing when he says "Life model June Furlong" (or some variation on that theme). This is always a problem when reporters wri
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
I should have read this many years ago when I first got it. I truly enjoyed Kane's other book on the Beatles entitled Ticket to Ride because it covers things the author personally witnessed; specifically, the U.S. tours of 1964-1966. This, on the other hand, attempts to piece together stories from the band's early years. However, having just read the massive, not to be outdone, magnum opus, Tune In (which covers the exact same ground), this cannot help but fall short of the high bar set by that ...more
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Author Larry Kane first met the Beatles as a 21 year old reporter in 1964 when he accompanied them on their first US tour - he was also on the 1965 and part of the ill fated 1966 tour of the States and has written A Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 Tour That Changed the World about his experiences, as well as other books on the band. It is a brave man who releases a new biography about the band's early years, claiming to be "the true story", especially with Mark Lewisohn's epic work abou ...more
Ryn McAtee
I'm probably being generous giving this book a three, when I really think it deserved about a 2.5, but Goodreads apparently doesn't care if you're torn on ratings. Really, I don't have much to say that hasn't been said already-- I found the writing style overly sentimental, there were glaring factual errors at the beginning of the book that made me wary of everything else, the repetition of phrases and stories got very old, very fast. The most redemptive qualities to Kane's book were the intervi ...more
Sep 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Awful book

This has to be one of the worst Beatles biographies out there. To be frank, I only finished it because it was a gift from my son.

Larry Kane who also wrote the very readable Ticket to Ride about his experiences traveling with the Beatles on their American tours, seems to have embraced every questionable source and rumor to provide a book worthy of Albert Goldman for its accuracy. He is clearly trying to milk his passing connection to the Beatles as far as he possibly can.

First of all h
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For Beatles-maniacs, who know the minutiae of the Fab Four's years of renown (1964-1970), this is a fabulous addition that tells the 1957-1963 story, when the boys were just meeting each other and eventually playing together. For the average fan, it is overload. The author, who toured with the group in 1964, 1965 and 1966, mines the Liverpool families, acquaintances, roadies, press folks, former band members and others who can tell any story from the early days. Ground is covered and then re-cov ...more
Mary Dallenbach
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For someone just coming into the Beatles (yes I was apparently under a rock this whole time) this was an excellent book to start off with. The writer traveled with the during their first American tour yet this book was written years and years later. What I liked most about this book is that most of the book, if not all, is based on first hand accounts. There is likely a lot of garbage out there about the greatest rock group to ever exist. The challenge then is to find things that enlighten you t ...more
Aug 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
Larry loves the sound of his own voice. The book seems as if it is written by a fan who is strangely in love with the band. The book has no structure. You will find yourself reading about sometime in 50'S and then jump in the next paragraph into the 70's. I found myself rereading a million paragraphs trying to understand how he got onto a different subject so quickly. I am only finishing the book because I can't not finish a book.
Nov 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
I was so looking forward to reading about the life of the Beatles. But what a disappointment this book was. You’re better off reading about them on Wikipedia then spending hours on this boring book.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty poor account on the Beatles.
Andrea Robinson
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Not a fan of the writing. The information was good but so scattered it was hard to follow.
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it
ARC received from NetGalley.

Some of you may be groaning to see yet another Beatles book reviewed on this blog. What can one possibly learn from a new title, and how can we be sure this is the true story of the Fab's early years. Having read so many books over the years, one would think I could recite the story by heart. So many Beatle "insiders" and witnesses to the early days of Hamburg and Liverpool - it's nice to know so many are still kicking after fifty-plus years - and it appears that jour
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is 5 stars if you love ' The Beatles ' but only 3 stars if you just tolerate them. This book is way different than Larry Kane's initial book written in 2003 .. " Ticket To Ride ". In that book he told the story of their unreal tour of the United States , as they went from city to city and established their reputation. It was a fun and exhilarating adventure. This book starts their story from when they were just kids in Liverpool.
You will learn about ' the Lads ' as they grew up in Li
May 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
A deeply disappointing read: a repetitive, disorganized, and not comprehensive telling of the early careers of the Beatles. It says many, many times that the Beatles "went to Hamburg" four times, but leaves out any discussion of what happened on trips #3 and #4. (This by way of example of how the book sets up expectations and then doesn't fulfill them.) It also talks about Epstein's death of a drug overdose but is completely silent on just how much, how long, and what types of drugs he used, who ...more
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
I love the music, and to learn more about the boys, have read a couple books on the group and their reception in the States, all of which are better I'm sorry to say.
After a few dozen pages I came to the conclusion that the assemblage of interview after interview is really for the specialist because this really concentrates not on the lads themselves, but on the various personalities (not hangers-on I hasten to add) who affected the trajectory of the Beatles' rise to fame and fortune. The book
Bob Schnell
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
First off, I love Larry Kane. For years he was my news anchor of choice in the Philadelphia area. I could not help but hear his voice while reading his latest book on the Beatles, especially since it is written in his TV journalist prose. That may be a detriment to some, but it enhanced my enjoyment of "When They Were Boys".

This is not so much a story of the up and coming Beatles as it is the story of those in the scene around them who helped (sometimes without knowing it) to catapault them to f
Clint Priest
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
As an avid reader of all things Beatles, it's rare for me to come across new or fresh info. This book accomplishes just that for me. Taking an entirely different perspective than other books on one of my favorite topics, the book traces the fellas from the very earliest starts up to the breakthrough year of 1963. What's even more unique is the book examines not just the genesis of the group and how they found success, but also takes great lengths to dissect all those that played such pivotal rol ...more
Deby Depreta
Oct 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse at the business of the Beatles in their early days pre-America invasion. This book does take some of the gleam off the public personas of all four men. I was particularly intrigued by the canniness, manipulativeness, jealousy, and paranoia of Paul. I was also unaware of how very violent and angry John was. The only person to emerge unscathed in this book was George. Additionally, these four young men were wantonly promiscuous to the point of being pathologic ...more
Jun 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Sorry, but in my opinion, this book isn't worth reading. There are so many other books that tell the story of how the Beatles became famous much better! While Mr. Kane may have traveled with the "boys" during their American tours in '64 and '65, he wasn't around when they were making it! So most of this book is researched. Admittedly, he did ask John, Paul, George and Ringo questions about their rise but after they were famous.

I found the book very hard to read because I'm a very big fan and al
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Larry Kane was a reporter who covered the Beatles on their 1964, 1965 and part of their final 1966 tours. He stayed in touch with the band members and members of their organization over the years and has written two prior books about the band. This one, as the title implies, is about the Beatles' growing-up years and the years spent forming the band and working very hard for a half-dozen years to achieve "overnight" success. The book goes through the end of 1963; a year in which they had become ...more
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This story chronicles the Beatles early formative years, before they were "The Beatles". It begins in the 1950s, detailing how they four young men met and over time, the band forming. All the ups and downs, the gritty, dirty venues they played in just to try to gain some recognition. Eventually, chance meetings and certain people entering their lives, their fortune very slowly begins to turn for the better. Even as they were finally perched on the cusp of superstardom, thanks to their appearance ...more
Oct 22, 2013 rated it liked it
I hate to say it, but as I finished the last page of Larry Kane's second book on the Beatles, I said "Well, that wasn't worth 30 bucks."

Even so, I gave it three stars for revealing some new anecdotes about my favorite band that it wasn't privy to before and for the depth of research Kane did.

It lacks a 4 or 5 star rating because there is a lot of personal promotion from Kane and a lot of hearsay.

Okay for the really involved fan to gain yet another perspective, but if you're a so-so fan of the
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. Larry makes it clear up front that some of the stories he shares may be fabrications or exaggerations so we're calibrated to enjoy this book but not entirely believe 100% of what we literally read. He successfully does make the point that it took luck, good fortune, amazing talent, and gritty determination to achieve what they did - with the help of others that have slipped out of the story. One ah-ha I got from the book - which I guess shouldn't have been a surprise! - is t ...more
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this early history of the pre-famous Beatles, and would recommend it to anyone who was/is a fan or is just interested in the rise of the biggest phenomenon in the history of popular music and culture. At 21, reporter Larry Kane (familiar to those of us in Philadelphia for his years as an evening news anchor) got to travel with the Beatles during their first US tour in 1964. He also traveled with them on their 1965 and part of the 1966 US tours, where he had the opportunity t ...more
Is there an echo in the room? In order to bolster his view of the events surrounding the Beatles early in their career, he cites multiple sources. After a while, I began to feel like I was in a Hall of Mirrors. While there is the occasional nugget here, you have to do a lot of panning to find it and frankly, I don't have the time. When it gets down to it, it's all about the music, not the personalities for me. If you going to cite a bunch of people saying essentially the same thing, use footnote ...more
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Cashing in on the happy accident of having covered the Beatles back in 63 to 66 when they were in the US, this guy decided to write a book on the Beatles before he met them. Guy is a terrible writer, one of those who confuse words, and I think he self publishes so for example he says that "Astrid was alone in her solace" when he means "sorrow." Also, he does not understand "English English" so he transcribes, in an interview, 'estate agent' as 'state agent.' There's a big difference. The book is ...more
This was very informative - beware that it only covers a very specific period, accurately reflected by the title. I liked the variety of people involved, and hence the sources, as well as the discussion of several other books (both supporting and refuting). However, it was very repetitive of certain points, which detracted rather than added to the book.

For someone wanting more insight into the origin of the Beatles, this should be on their reading list.
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
You might want to read this if you are an avid Beatles fan. There are some interesting facts and perspective of the boys and the people surrounding them in the early years. The author seems to have pieced together information from his interviews to write this book. It seemed as if each chapter was written as a stand-alone essay, but when put together In a book there becomes a lot of repetition. I'm surprised there wasn't a greater amount of editing.
Aaron Badgley
Aug 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This is Mr. Kane's second book about The Beatles (plus he wrote one on Lennon). He toured with the Beatles, as a reporter, and their paths continued to cross over the years. This book has a unique perspective, in that he interviews a great many of the people who helped The Beatles on the way, as well as dipping into his collection of interviews. I enjoyed reading this book. Well written and a fun and informing read.
Feb 23, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this since the Beatles just celebrated their 50th anniversary. I know this is just an opinion of one man, but he was very persuasive. It really changed the way I think about the Beatles and not in the best way. If you don't want your love of the Beatles to change then don't read this book, but if you want to learn some interesting stuff read away, but I'm warning you it wont be pretty. Kind of glad I read it, kind of wish I hadn't.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four's Instruments, from Stage to Studio
  • Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music - The Definitive Life
  • Tune In (The Beatles: All These Years, #1)
  • Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock  Roll
  • All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release
  • Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s
  • Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington
  • Days That I'll Remember: Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono
  • George Harrison: Behind the Locked Door
  • The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story
  • Paul McCartney: The Life
  • The Walrus Was Paul: The Great Beatle Death Clues
  • Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America
  • Magical Mystery Tours: My Life with the Beatles
  • Images of the Beatles
  • A Twist Of Lennon
  • Cary Grant: The Lonely Heart
  • Ringo: With a Little Help

Nonfiction Deals

  • Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
    $15.99 $3.99
  • The Monster of Florence
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob
    $9.99 $1.99
  • April 1865 (P.S.)
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Jesus Is ______: Find a New Way to Be Human
    $7.99 $0.99
  • Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Lab 257
    $8.74 $1.99
  • How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Girl in the Woods: A Memoir
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Last Lecture
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
    $12.74 $1.99
  • Not Tonight, Honey: Wait 'Til I'm A Size 6
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
    $12.99 $2.99
  • An Appetite For Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
    $27.99 $2.99
  • Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Dakotas)
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Restless: Because You Were Made for More
    $7.49 $1.99
  • Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman
    $10.24 $1.99
  • The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions
    $16.99 $2.99
  • Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
    $13.99 $3.99
  • Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Pukka: The Pup After Merle
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Buddhist Boot Camp
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Flour: A Baker's Collection of Spectacular Recipes
    $21.99 $3.99
  • The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Van Gogh
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Woman's Worth
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Do the Work
    $4.99 $1.49
  • The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century
    $4.99 $1.99
  • I Suck at Girls
    $10.74 $1.99
  • The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters
    $17.99 $1.99
  • A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives
    $18.99 $1.99
  • Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Journal of a Solitude
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now--As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It
    $7.24 $1.99
  • The World's Last Night: And Other Essays
    $7.99 $1.99
  • A. Lincoln
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Life
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society
    $13.24 $2.99
  • Grace, Not Perfection (with Bonus Content): Celebrating Simplicity, Embracing Joy
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Promise and the Dream: The Untold Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. And Robert F. Kennedy
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Why We Run: A Natural History
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
    $12.99 $2.99