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The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away Mass Market Paperback – August 12, 1977
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Beatles' most diehard fans have never heard. Lots of great gossip and a few rare photographs of the people who were there in the early years. Not a great piece of literature, but many funny and tragic insights into the assembly of The Beatles from a man who supported the lads in their formative years. And just when The Fab Four were ready to make an artistic breakthrough, he tired of the game and sold the rights to "RocknRoll's Golden Fleece" to Brian Epstein for a pence. That is pretty much where The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away ends; at the beginning of what became the British Invasion and a world cultural revolution.
In the book, "The John Lennon Letters," edited by Hunter Davis, Lennon recommends "The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away" several times. Lennon's letter to photographer Jurgen Vollmer dated April 1975 (Vollmer was a friend from The Beatles Hamburg days and the photographer whose work appears as the cover for Lennon's Rock and Roll album) states in a postscript: "there's a book coming out -- 'Macmillan Publishers' -- its by Allan Williams (he took us to Hamburg first) -- it's all about 'THEN'-- Liverpool/Hamburg -- pre Brian Epstein -- it's called 'THE MAN WHO GAVE AWAY THE BEATLES.' -- Quite funny -- and sad."
In a letter to journalist Robert Weinstein (dated, "june already" 1975) who had written John for confirmation on some facts regarding a record The Beatles cut in Hamburg, Lennon adds this postscript (spelling the author's first name incorrectly, among other typos, which I am including here for authenticity): "Ther's a very good book on those days called 'The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away' (Alun Williams)* I've forgotten which publisher ... it's new, but available. *he was our first 'manager' ... he took us to Hamburg ... tra la la' Excuse typing!"
Sometime later, possibly 1976, Lennon responded to a short survey from a fan named Mark who asked:
"Have you read Allan Williams' 'The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away?'
Lennon's reply: "Yes"
"Is it completely true or has the story been fictionalized somewhat?..."
Lennon's reply: "Mostly true."
"How do you look back upon your early years in Liverpool and Hamburg?"
Lennon's reply: "From a distance."
My interest was sparked. Upon reading "The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away," I couldn't help but note that Williams was not always that flattering toward John Lennon, yet, Lennon declares it's "mostly true," and found it a "very good book," "quite funny -- and sad."
I enjoyed reading about the Beatles early years from the perspective of a man who hired them for odd jobs (cleaning bathrooms and painting murals on the walls of his Liverpool club) to supporting their decision not to cut Stuart Sutcliffe from the band even though he could not play a note to save his life.
But fans of the boy-next-door Beatles proceed with caution. You'll find out a bit more about your fab four than you may have bargained for. Williams pulls no punches, painting the boy-next-door Beatles (aka Brian Epstein) as whoring, touring, cussing, drunk and disorderly kids sowing their oats (just like Doris) as they honed their musical chops in the dark, dank, dubious clubs of Hamburg and Liverpool.
Williams takes you on a wild ride of the proverbial sex, drugs and rock and roll antics of five red-blooded British lads, belting out American Rock and Roll in Liverpool and German clubs, but you almost don't want the story to end, because we all know how it does end.
Bottom line. A great, fast, fun read. Take it from John Lennon himself. I did. And John oughta know.
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