Historian Debunks Beatles Myths



thebeatlesbannerObsessive Beatles geeks like me have no shortage of material with which to feed our addiction. God knows there may have been more written and said about the Fab Four than about any other public figures ever.

Well for you Beatles geeks, here’s another 83 minutes of your life gone. It’s an interview with Mark Lewisohn, easily the most formidable and respected Beatles scholar in the world, that was posted online this week. Lewisohn is writing a three-part series of books that promises to be the definitive account of the Beatles.

The first volume covering their story up to 1962 is entitled Tune In, and was published in 2013. Lewisohn claims he spent 10 years researching the book, which makes sense when you consider he wanted to tell the story starting from scratch.

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The truth is that so much Beatles material up to this point has been based on a well-worn Beatles Mythology, sometimes perpetuated by the Beatles themselves, that has been regurgitated over and over again. A lot of these so-called facts about the Beatles have proven to be of dubious accuracy, yet they continue to be passed off as gospel.

Lewisohn wanted to go to primary sources in order to refresh the narrative and arrive at new truths. I haven’t read the book yet, but in this interview he reveals some amazing nuggets of fact and opinion.

For example, Lewisohn discovered that the Beatles’ first visit to Abbey Road Studios in June 1962 was not an audition for George Martin as the Mythology has long asserted. The fact is that an EMI operative had already signed the group on the basis of their Decca demo, and assigned them to the underworked junior producer Martin as a project.

Lewisohn argues convincingly that the Beatles likely would have broken up in the Fall of 1961 had they not had the good fortune of running into Brian Epstein. Returning from their second tour of duty in Hamburg, the Lads had trouble getting gigs in Britain – despite their new-found Rock & Roll prowess – because they kept alienating promoters. They were seen as a bunch of headstrong toughs in leather who refused to accede to promoters’ requests. Who knows what might have happened if Epstein hadn’t taken them under his wing.

Time and time again, Lewisohn returns to the notion that the rise of the Beatles was facilitated by an incredible string of good fortune. They had an uncanny knack for meeting the right people at exactly the right time, people who would contribute important elements that helped propel the group into the stratosphere. I am always completely gobsmacked when I consider fate’s influence on the story of the Beatles.

Anyways, Beatles geeks, watch the interview, read the book, and let’s make a commitment to getting the Beatles story right, once and for all.

Photo credit: By Omroepvereniging VARA (Beeld en Geluidwiki – Gallery: The Beatles) [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

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