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Riding So High: The Beatles and Drugs Paperback – September 20, 2017
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About the Author
Joe Goodden is a journalist, blogger and paperback writer living in south Wales. Formerly a senior online producer at the BBC, he is a music lover and founder of the Beatles Bible website (www.beatlesbible.com – "Not quite as popular as Jesus…"). Riding So High – The Beatles and Drugs is his first book.
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At times Goodden’s book appears to borrow heavily from interviews made by the individual members in the Beatles Anthology documentary. For a die-hard fan like myself much of the material is recognizable from other sources. Still, the book is not a simple re-hash of stories and anecdotes. I watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan as a child and followed their career ever since. Even I, however, learned a thing or two about the Beatles. For example, John’s difficulties with heroin are well-documented. But even Paul had tried it several times, rejecting it in an act of supreme self-control, ultimately becoming a first-class cokehead, something which is clearly evident if you ever watched the Let it Be documentary. Dylan, contrary to the urban myth, was not the first person to introduce the Beatles to marijuana. There are many, many other factoids recorded in this book which are not commonly known about this sensitive subject.
Goodden’s book shows both sides of this story. While initially basking in the glow and giddiness of Swingin” London in the Sixties, his book also documents how the Beatles experienced bad trips, near fatalities, mishaps, police intimidations, drug busts, incarcerations, show trials, and overdoses, some fatal, some not. The Beatles and their entourage were, after all, mere mortals like us and not immune to the dark side. Goodden has interesting stories about the more nefarious characters from that era. Again, many of these incidents are part of Beatle lore, but his book also provides other details to the lesser known escapades and figures as well as those commonly known.
His book also occasionally delves into a social history of sorts, giving those who were not there an idea what it was like to be at that place, at that particular time. Least we pine about the “good ‘ol days,” the dangers of sustained or excessive use of powerful psycho-active drugs in the 1960s were not widely known or appreciated. It is quaint to witness the gusto and extent to which the individual Beatles cavalierly indulged drugs with abandon, contrasted with the inherent danger that we all know now. Goodden’s unique take on the Beatles is recommended reading for the confirmed Beatle fan and for the general reader.