Q. So much has been written about the Beatles, why is this book different to all other books?
A. 'We know everything there is to know about the Beatles, so what else can possibly be written?' People say that all the time – and I don't agree with it for a second. I wouldn't argue the Beatles' story has been told often, but I would argue that it can't be told again and differently. It's been related the same old way for so very long and it's also dying under the suffocating blanket of 'celebrity'. I want to start again, I want to press the Refresh button.
This is a comprehensive biography, three volumes, a sequential history in which I set out to relate everything that happened, and do so with integrity, attention to detail, accuracy and, I believe, a fair understanding of where the story needs to be told and how to tell it. I'm writing so it unfolds as if in real time – there's no hindsight cleverness, so you get a vivid sense of the forward movement. The Beatles' story always had tremendous energy, speed, vitality – and this must be tangible to the reader.
It all boils down to this. They were four war babies from Liverpool who really did change the world, and whose music and impact still lives on in so many ways, after all these years. I say, let's scrub what we know, or think we know, and start over: Who really were these people, and how did it all happen?
Q. What period of the story does Tune In cover?
A. It ends on 31 December 1962, with the Beatles on the cusp of their phenomenal breakthrough, but with everything having fallen well into place – all the people, places, personalities, situations, organisation. So I'm writing about the Liverpool and Hamburg years, the formative years, the teenage years and the childhood years, and all the family backgrounds in a Who Do They Think They Are?-style history – and these families were almost as fascinating as their famous offspring. The three volumes aren't only about 'who these people were' but 'what made them what they were?' I begin this history in 1845; there's a fair deal of Irish blood in the Beatles and I start with the potato famine, which forces the Lennons into Liverpool. Then it moves swiftish through the next hundred years and becomes very solid from the Second World War and the arrival of all the main players.
I'm sure it won't surprise anyone to learn that the Beatles didn't suddenly grow personalities when they had a hit record – that their talent, originality and relentless desire to move on fast, to try new things, was already well in place in their early years. I'm sure no one would be amazed to find the Beatles didn't become instantly remarkable when they conquered Britain, America and much of the world, or funny when they filmed A Hard Day's Night, or inventive when recording Revolver or Sgt Pepper. It was always who they were, a continuation of what was going in all these earlier years, except more visible. The richness of the stories to come in books two and three is also in volume one all the way through. Really, everything was revved up and running in these formative years, in the halls, houses and streets of Liverpool, the only place these people and those events could have happened.
Q. You have a long professional association with the Beatles, and some of them individually. Are they involved in Tune In and is this book authorized?
A. No. I received the odd tiny bit of help which I specifically asked for and they didn't have to give – but substantially no, they're not involved. That's fine, because it's what I expected and what I wanted. This has to be an independent and impartial book. But are the all main players appearing and speaking at the book's core? Yes, constantly. Paul McCartney decided not to talk to me for this particular project, and I completely respect and understand his reasons – but I've interviewed him maybe fifteen times in the past and I've also sourced other quotes of great strength and immediacy for all the players.
One of many reasons the Beatles' achievements and reputation sustain with such integrity is because they were true. They stood for truth, projected truth and lived truthfully as best they could. It's entirely right that their history is written as true as possible, with no embroidery, nothing faked or glossed, nothing stupidly interpreted, everything transparent, everything attributed. Of course my attachment to this subject is deep and lifelong, but I'm not the least bit interested in writing a book simply to say how great they were. They certainly don't need that, and I certainly wouldn't do it. It'd be a waste of my time. My passion is for learning everything I can about this subject, understanding it, and doing my best to set it down clearly so it can be understood relative to what happened.
“The biggest, deepest Beatles book ever.” –Rolling Stone
“This beyond-essential dive into the Beatles’ early Liverpool and Hamburg days is a wildly evocative portrait of our lads on the verge.” –Entertainment Weekly
“A fast-moving page-turner overflowing with warm humor, passion, and (of course) music…For anyone who loves music, this book is the genuine ultimate.” –VH1.com
“Astonishing…Lewisohn’s masterful, step-by-step account raises the intriguing possibility that the Beatles’ success was anything but foreordained .” –Bloomberg News
“A definitive history of the band…Mr. Lewisohn's chronicle fills in vital details that had been missing from the existing Beatles canon and corrects mistakes that have been reprinted for years.” –The Wall Street Journal
“Lewisohn treats his subjects seriously, as historical, if ultimately remarkable, figures, and eschews the myriad myths that have grown up around the band in favor of the sorts of details and minutiae, wrapped in a serious but breezy narrative, that give us the fullest picture of who John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and, eventually, Ringo Starr were.” –Esquire
“Astounding…. packed with revelations and demystifications.” –The Economist
“[Mark Lewisohn is] arguably the most widely respected Beatles historian currently working, and his bona fides served him well — not only in terms of gaining access to materials and interviews, but in obtaining the necessary perspective for a clear-eyed appraisal of rock’s most beloved band.” –CNN.com
“These are the least documented, least known years in the Beatles’ lives but in some ways the richest material, as Lewisohn shows John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richy Starkey (not yet Ringo Starr) as wartime Liverpool babies who get inspired by American R&B, rock ’n’ roll and skiffle records (the last played partially on washboards and tea chests) while becoming the first British generation in decades to avoid call-up to National Service.” –Chicago Tribune
“The choicest parts of the band’s story are the early, pre-fame years, culminating with 1962. These are the hell-for-leather years, the period when a band from a grimy, bomb-scarred city—a city that didn’t exactly turn out world-beaters—defied long odds and commenced a quest that has something almost preordained about it. In this book, which focuses on 1957 to 1962, Lewisohn picks up on that supernal feel to the Beatles’ success, and at times his own wonder that all of this ever happened, with one amazing coincidence after another, feeds into our own…Lewisohn has a knack for underscoring the moment, the precise moment, when things change.” –Slate.com
“No half measures here: If you ever cast an eye toward Pepperland and wished for an epic Beatles bio, this sprawling tome would seem to be pure payoff.” –The Boston Globe
“The story is told so definitively that, after this, that really should be it…Lewisohn is a Beatles oracle.” –The Guardian (UK)
“I can think of no greater praise for Tune In than to say that it gives The Beatles the beginnings of the biography they deserve….gripping.” –Financial Times
“Unlikely to be surpassed as factual record…Once anointed ‘Beatle Brain of Britain’ while working in accounts at BBC Radio, Lewisohn amasses and investigates facts without sacrificing an iota of the excitement.” –Telegraph (UK)
Great book! You can see a lot of time and effort went into writing this book. Can't wait for the others to hit the shelves!Published 7 days ago by Rick
If you don't understand the headline, you may not be a big enough fan to appreciate this book. Hands down, the best written and most researched book on the fab four. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Brian Butler
It was exactly what I hoped it would be: a delightful christmas gift for my rabid Beatle fan wife.Published 23 days ago by Frank Manuel