Review by Ben Macnair
Publisher: Ecco November 2017
ISBN: 978-0062475589 PB
Have you ever wanted to know what Ringo Starr was doing in March 1966? Have you ever wondered which art exhibitions Paul McCartney visited? Have you ever wondered which days all of the Beatles spent in the studio? If you have ever wondered about these and many other questions, this is exactly the book you have been looking for.
It is a diary-like book that looks at the day-to-day life and activities of four fairly ordinary men who all had the good fortune to form a band, write a lot of songs that connected with a lot of people and become figureheads for the swinging sixties.
But this is more than just a book about the Beatles. It places them in history, of what is happening at the time, in world events, culture, music. It is the year of Sergeant Pepper, of a creative rivalry between the Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, the bands who wanted to go one better, to be the ones who burned the brightest, before burning out completely.
It may be hyperbole to suggest that the Beatles changed pop music forever, but they certainly had a good go at it. They spent hours in the studio, crafting Revolver, which moved the band away from their rock and roll live sound, and produced such experimental work as Tomorrow Never Knows.
There is a sense of change in the book., The Beatles are no longer a touring band, having become tired of playing to people who screamed, rather than listened. We also see the fallout, particularly in Bible-belt America, of John Lennon’s infamous ‘bigger than Jesus’ quote.
The book is a forensic study of the Beatles, but also of the state of music at the time. George Harrison’s excursion into Indian music and his exploration of the Sitar are well explored, as are the states of the Beatles relationships.
Although many books have, and always will, be written about Paul, John, George and Ringo, Beatles 66 is probably the only book that will look at a particular year and stage in the musical and social development of the Beatles in such detail. If you have even a passing interest in the 1960s, the Beatles and popular culture, then this book is a very interesting and enjoyable read.