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Showing 1-10 of 52 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 81 reviews
on September 22, 2017
This has to be one of the worst Beatles biographies out there. To be frank, I only finished it because it was a gift from my son.

Larry Kane who also wrote the very readable Ticket to Ride about his experiences traveling with the Beatles on their American tours, seems to have embraced every questionable source and rumor to provide a book worthy of Albert Goldman for its accuracy. He is clearly trying to milk his passing connection to the Beatles as far as he possibly can.

First of all his writing style in this volume is so corny and overblown that my eyes were sore from constantly rolling. I found it helped to imagine an old newsreel announcer narrating the text. Sort of. But the entire book, particularly the chapter introductions are written like bad newsreel narration.

One of the annoying pretentious of the book is to give characters stupid nicknames that no one else uses to describe them. For example, John is the Milkman, Horst Fascher is the Protector, Freda Kelly is the Believer, etc. Sometimes he gives characters multiple nicknames and uses them interchangeably.

Another annoying trait that carries throughout this tedious account is he feels the name to insert his own name in the responses to nearly EVERY quote he uses (“you see, Larry”). The reason I know these are insertions is 1. most people don’t talk that way when being interviewed. 2. Audio exists of his interviews with the Beatles. They almost never say his name except in the form of a greeting (“Hello John” “Well, hello Larry!”)

Yet his book is filled with examples of the Beatles and others randomly inserting his own name in their quotes. It’s annoying. I think he’s doing it to try to provide the illusion of being an insider well-known to all the players.

Again, the audio evidence available shows that the Beatles showed Kane no more deference or warmth than they showed any journalist. They answer seriously sometimes and they make fun of him sometimes.

Throughout the book he mentions “people who would rewrite history” without citing who he means. Is he implying his book is the only true account? If so, there are egregious errors throughout that will argue against such an assertion. For example, he has Yoko Ono in conversation with John’s long-dead Uncle George. He also claims John called Paul and George “cowards” for firing Pete Best. The actual quote John gave was referring to the way in which Pete was fired. He actually said, “We were cowards. We got Epstein to do the dirty work for us.” We. Not Paul and George. We. Who is rewriting history here?

He also claims Pete Best is an awesome drummer. We have significant audio evidence to the contrary (take a listen to the version of Love Me Do on the Beatles Anthology if you want to hear how awesome he is).

He has the tendency to elevate minor players in the Beatles story to prominence which by extension elevates himself. A very minor player indeed. He claims people like Mal Evans or Pete Best are not given their due despite all books that are out there. The names of those he cites as not getting credit are well-known to Beatle fans and those who have read more than the most basic Wikipedia entry. Is he doing this so that by extension is own minor connection to the group is also elevated?

He likes to reintroduce the same characters over and over and over again and repeats several stories and facts multiple times (how many times do we need to hear that Tony Barrow coined the term “Fab Four” or that Joe Ankrah was helped by Paul and the Beatles?)

He cites multiple unsubstantiated stories such as saying Mal Evans contributed “so much” to Sgt. Pepper. What did he contribute? Who can corroborate it? I know he counted on A Day in a Life. Is that “so much”?

Other complaints I have are relatively minor mistakes, but still errors that he should have taken the time to correct. For example, he refers to Silver Spring, Md. as Silver Springs. I know that’s easy for someone who isn’t local to make, but it’s still shows a lack of effort.

He references Horst Fascher’s father referring to rock and roll as “Hottentot music.” Hottentot is an offensive term used by Dutch and Germans to refer to African people. Yet Kane seems completely unfamiliar with the word and instead says “hot and tot.” Interestingly, there’s an audio clip on Youtube of Kane interviewing John and claiming John called something “daffy” which John disputes saying he’s never said that word in his life. Again, the word is most like “daft” from the context of the audio, but Kane is so “daft” he doesn’t pick up on it.

I only mention that clip to give you an idea of the depth and comprehension level the author seems to have. His intuition seems off completely.

So give this book a pass. If you want to read a good book about the Beatles, try Tune In by Mark Lewisohn or Magical Mystery Tours by Tony Bramwell, or Many Years from Now by Barry Miles or …
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on January 10, 2014
This is the third book I’ve read by Larry Kane and I enjoyed it even more than “Ticket to Ride” about their 64 tour and “Lennon Revealed” his comprehensive study of John Lennon. I bought the book because I had enjoyed reading his previous books and I liked this one even more. As in his previous Beatles portraits, he speaks from first-hand contact drawing upon the countless hours he spent on the road with them. True to his reporter roots, Mr. Kane relates as accurately as possible, all sides of every story so the reader gets everyone’s version of what happened. The reader can decide which version to believe.

“When They Were Boys” gives character profiles of those early supporters such as Freda Kelly, Same Leach, Billy Kinsley, Bob Wooler, Pete and Mona Best, Tony Barrow, Derek Taylor, Mal Evans, Bill and Virginia Harry and many others. Perhaps without their support of these hopeful musicians in those early years from 1961-1964, there would have been no Beatles. Their stories have never been told in this way before and they deserve their place in the Beatles success story. This may be this book’s most important contribution to Beatles history: giving credit where credit is due to those early supporters.

Mr. Kane relates the story of the Beatles before they made it big, not in a linear narrative, in a strict chronological approach, but by going back to certain events more than once. In this manner, he layers the story the way a master painter layers in colors to give a painting to give added texture, contrast and depth. His reporting gets more nuanced with each stroke of his writer’s brush. As he retells key events, he adds a deeper insight and broader perspective giving the reader a greater understanding each time. But certain stories may be repeated a little too often for some readers.

His facts are well-researched from the original sources and direct interviews in describing the early days of the Fab Four. Kane leaves no doubt about his passion and respect for his subjects yet they are shown to be what they are: real people with hopes, dreams and disappointments. Their history is a messy one, like life itself. If you’re a big Beatles fan like I am, you’ll find plenty of new information and perspective on Beatle facts you already knew. This is a must-read for any Beatles fan.
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on May 9, 2014
I was really looking forward to reading this to see what was different or some facts and circumstances that I was unfamiliar with. This is really a series of magazine pieces put together in book form. Why do I say that? Because there would be frequent references with explanations, such as what the Cavern Club was like, in virtually every story. The reader wants to scream at the author and remind him that he has already told me that ad nauseum. It would be necessary if the chapter/article was written to stand on its own but not in a book. Poorly done and clearly designed to make a quick buck. I did like the chapters on Pete Best and Neil Aspinall. I do not recommend this at all.
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on June 2, 2016
The B E S T book/audiobook EVER on the early Beatles. I Know! My dad was stationed in Germany from 1961 to 1967, and I happened to go with friends to Hamburg in the fall of 1961 and saw the Silver Beetles at the Kaiserkeller and the Top Ten Club MANY. MANT times from 1961 thru 1963. GREAT Audiobook!!!
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on November 24, 2013
overs territory left vague over the years! it includes many a tale and description of those who helped "the boys" along.
questions about how some things occurred in a seemingly impossible 'adult specific', post-war britain are put in crystal-clear detail. larry kane is a GREAT writer and keeps the story moving along with the reader essentially unable to put the book down. it covers not just the climate and musical history of the times, but many psychological aspects as well. -a GREAT read!
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on September 15, 2014
THis is the story of the Beatles before they became the BEATLES. A lot of it is interviews with people who knew them when. Some of it was interesting, some wasn't. The book went into detail about their parents and family life, how they met, their stints in Germany, members of the group who didn't make it for some reason or another. I persevered and finished ot because it was a gift, but it was dry reading sometimes.
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on October 17, 2013
I am a true fan of the Beatles, so I eagerly devour everything new about them that I can find. There is much to recommend in "When They Were Boys". The research is top-notch, and even I, who thought he knew a lot about the Beatles, learn something new in nearly every chapter.

I would have rated the book with 5 stars but for the poor writing. Larry Kane should take a clue from some other best-selling authors (i.e.: Bill O'Reilly) who get real writers to help them get their research into a form that is easy and pleasurable to read. Kane's book is sometimes painful to read, alternating between amateurish attempts at poetry and prose that is clumsy at best. Also, Kane tends to repeat himself, sometimes telling the same story or quoting the same "Merseybeat" article only a few pages later.

But even with the lousy writing (and apparent lack of an editor) this book is worth the read. You will learn things about the Beatles that are charming, shocking and once in a while outright horrifying. I am glad I read it. I might even read it again.

Paul from Huntington Beach, CA
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on March 19, 2014
Very informative as to the machinations of life and how it affected each one of this group individually!

It's hadr to imagine so this book gives a excellent insight into how the various scenarios worked their way out at time passed by !

Excellent read and I recommend it to those who were in their 40's or older, when Beatlemania hit this nation as well as the whole world !
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VINE VOICEon August 15, 2013
"In my life, I've loved them all." -- John Lennon, 1965 from "In My Life"

The Beatles have been an important staple in my life for the majority of my life. When I say I love the Beatles, I mean I REALLY love them!

Larry Kane was the only American reporter who flew with the Beatles during their US tours. This book is an excellent, full picture of the boys' lives and readers get a sense of each Beatle and the people who shaped him. (Larry Kane's favorite Beatle is John. He disclosed this when he spoke at the 2003 Chicago Fest for Beatle Fans and boy, he is an EXCELLENT speaker and raconteur! I heard the man speak 3 times and I even have an autographed copy of Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 and 1965 Tours That Changed the World).

I had a bit of a giggle when Larry Kane said that George was "the spitting image of his father, Harold Sr." True, George did have the paternal traits of the Harrison ears; the deep set signature Harrison eyes and the thick wavy hair. The bulk of his beauty came from Louise French and the men in the French family. He was Harold Sr. from the eyes up and Louise French from the nose down and he had the lean, ectomorphic French build from the men in the French family.

I also had another giggle when Kane claimed that Yoko met John's Uncle George, which we know never took place. The man died in the 1950s, years before John even met Yoko!

Then there was Kane's claim that there was rivalry between Paul and Stu over who was bassist. Kane claims that Paul wanted Stu ousted from the group as he wanted to be the sole bassist. That has never been suggested anywhere else and that claim appears to be a fallacy. The three "core" Beatles were all guitarists before Stu entered the picture and many have said that Stu's guitar skills were rather limited.

As for poor Pete Best, he was not the greatest drummer under Here Comes the Sun. He can be heard on the Beatles' Anthology 1 and his timing left a lot to be desired. Tony Sheridan, a very early pre-Beatles and Beatles' insider also noted that Pete's drumming was not teriffic and he did not strive to improve. Naturally the Best family found their version of Pete's ultimate dismissal from the group more palatable. They claim he was fired. Sheridan was an objective party and I would certainly put more stock into what he said than what the Best family said. Sheridan was also a noted musician during the early days of rock and roll. Add to it is that if Pete's performance and displays of irresponsibility, e.g. missing rehearsals, showing up late and reported conflicts with other members, then how on earth could he reasonably expect to stay in the group? And if he was not doing well in 1962, he would have been left behind for sure by 1965 when the Beatles' music entered the Experimental Phase. As another reviewer on the U.S. boards noted, I, too am glad Pete got his day in the sun with monetary recognition from the Anthology releases, but even so that doesn't mean he belonged as the Beatles' drummer. Yeah, he deserved his long overdue nod, but no, I don't think the Beatles should have kept him on for the reasons they themselves have given.

Readers get a broader and fuller picture of the other members of the Quarrymen, the Beatles' first incarnation as a band; the unfortunate Pete Best who was sacked in 1962 to be replaced by Ringo Starr and the people who were part of the Beatles' touring days of 1964 - 1966. Readers also get treated to stories about the Beatles' trips to Germany in 1960 and 1961 and learn that Harold Sr. was "livid" upon George's being deported in 1960 due to being underage. The Beatles' friends in Germany, Astrid who gave them their iconic beautiful coiffure and Jurgen, famous for his early photographs of the "pre-Fabs" and also Klaus Voormann, who would later draw the cover for their 1966 "Revolver" album are fully "introduced" to readers. An excellent Beatle biography is like the 1966 Paul McCartney classic, a genuine "Good Day Sunshine."

Larry Kane is a truly gifted writer and writing a good Beatle biography that stands out among the plethora of good Beatle books is not easy to do, but he did it. I am an inveterate, hard core Beatle fanatic and have been one since I was tire high to a Ford Falcon and a Ford Galaxie. The Beatles were with me, every step of the way. In my life, I've loved them all and always will. Larry Kane tells how each member of the band including the early players in their early line ups and their evolution to the Beatles, the Fab 4, the Moptops, the WORLD's NUMBER ONE BAND who influenced EVERY aspect of culture and not just pop culture brilliantly and masterfully.

It is a treat to read Larry Kane's accounts of his days as a reporter with access to the World's Greatest Band. He has, as another U.S. reviewer rightfully pointed out earned his title as the World's Best Beatle Biographer. Be sure to read Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 and 1965 Tours That Changed the World and listen to the bonus CD that come swith it and his biography of John Lennon. I promise you that you will not be disappointed! Larry Kane is here to stay!
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on April 29, 2016
this tells the true story of the early beatles, when the raw song of John, George, Pete, Stu and Paul rules the music scene in Hamburg and Liverpool
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