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GONZO WEEKLY #181: Jon meets Neil

The Beatles are undoubtedly the most important rock and roll band of all time. In four years’ time it will be half a century since they split up, and it seems that they still are of more importance – culturally and economically – than any band who came before or since.

This is probably because they not only raised the bar for everyone who followed them, they were the bar.

There is a veritable library of books on the band and associated subjects, and not only does this library grow apparently exponentially each year, but a goodly proportion of these books that are released contains new and hitherto uncollected material. And this – for a Beatlenerd like me – is bliss  It is even cooler when the author of the latest tome is an old friend of mine, and it is published by….yup, US!

As Neil Nixon, the author in question explains:

“The Beatles remain the best-selling, most critically praised popular music act in history. Beyond that, the band and their works probably form the most inspirational force ever produced by one act in the popular music industry. In cultural terms only the power of Elvis comes close. Many acts, and many styles of music have brought changes to the music world but it takes an exceptional musical act to bring about the monumental shifts that have attended the work of The Beatles. There is very little Beatle ephemera left unrecorded. You will find books chronicling the activities of the band on a day by day basis, detailed considerations of every track and every musician appearing on every track. Elsewhere a range of detailed biography and investigation attempts to achieve the last word in explaining the nuances of the individual Beatle lives. No band in popular music history has ever been so studied, argued over or dreamed about. The range of meanings arising from the individual actions and recorded works of The Beatles continue to expand.

Which is where this niche investigation comes in. There have been urban legends and rumours about the band since they first became famous. Some of the stories in this book go back that far, notably the wrong-headed wonder that never ceases claiming Ringo Starr to be Jewish. The Beatles’ drummer was the subject of a 1964 death threat because of that. No amount of evidence to the contrary appears to have completely strangled the Jewish rumour. Indeed, no amount of provable evidence appears to be able to kill off the best Beatle rumours and legends. So this book celebrates and explores these stories. To the best of our knowledge it is the first book to do so by focussing on the band. There are separate works providing more detail on the alleged death of Paul McCartney in late 1966, and on the alleged role of U.S. security services in the killing of John Lennon in 1980. These works are cited when their research has informed what is written here. But the present book sets out to do a slightly different job to those tomes, and to the many other Beatle related books, websites and articles which have been trawled in the search for information to make this book."

So what else is a poor boy to do? I gave him a ring...

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