192 p. 2016
As part of my nostalgic after-glow from seeing Eight Days a Week, I snapped up this book at my library when I saw it on the New Non Fiction shelves. It features beautifully clear photographs that were taken by photographer Leslie Bryce who, along with published Sean O’Mahony, issued a small monthly booklet called ‘The Beatles Monthly Magazine’ during the Beatles phenomenon of the 1960s.
Now fetching about $30 each on E-Bay, they originally cost 1/6d (15 cents for those readers who are P.D. [pre-decimal]) and there were 77 editions issued between 1963 and 1969. It was resuscitated in 1976 and finally ceased publication in 2003.
They were a bit of a hack-job, replicating the format of other similar fan magazines, and filled with pictures and articles that purported to be interviews. It contained a letters page with the occasional ghost-written Beatles reply, a Beatles News page and the lyrics of the month’s Beatles Song. However, they were given unprecedented access to the Beatles backstage and in the recording studio, and were part of the team. Pages 4 and 5 of the magazine were devoted to the National Fan Club newsletter, with its fictitious secretary Anne Collingham, a made-up name to cover the rotating team of staff who answered the fan mail that arrived at the Offical Beatles Fan Club organized through the Beatles’ press officer. The Beatles Book was distributed to over a million people world wide, and Official Beatles Fan Club membership reached a peak of 80,000 world wide.
At first,The Beatles Book contained biographical articles to introduce ‘the boys’ to their fans, but increasingly it became a way of keeping the world at bay. The Beatles of 1963 and 1964 welcomed the photographic publicity, but by late 1966/early 1967 the torrent of photographs had slowed to a trickle. The final photographs in the book are mainly taken at recording sessions – Sgt Peppers, Revolver etc- where the tension between them is palpable.
Ah, but those younger photos are so clear and exuberant! Did they brush their hair specially each time the camera came out, I wonder?- it’s certainly shiny clean hair, and suit and tie were their ‘brand’. The earliest photographs in the book were taken in 1963 when the Beatles played at summer seaside locations (Margate and Bournemouth) before heading to London in December 1963- then Paris, New York, Washington, Florida, Europe- no Australia here.
The photographs have interesting little captions and snippets of fascinating facts. Did you know, for instance, that the last note in the gobbledegook at the end of Sgt Peppers can only be heard by dogs? [I don’t have a dog to try it out on anymore].
Anyway- beautiful photos that I certainly hadn’t seen before and an interesting flip-through if you’re in the mood for some innocent nostalgia.
Sourced from: Yarra Plenty Regional Library
My rating: 7/10 (difficult to rate, really)