Friday, June 4, 2010

Oh, Look, A Box of Beatles!

Alan Clayson is the only author I am aware of who has attempted to write a biography of Ringo Starr, and from what I have read so far of his work, he's made a very good job of it (considering that he didn't get to work directly with Ringo, who, for whatever reason, won't consent to publish an "official" biography). It's been a very different sort of experience for me, since, like most Beatle-related bio-work, it begins by covering the pre-Mania years, but unlike most Beatle bios, it does so from Ringo's perspective. Remember, of course, that Ringo didn't join the band until they were well on their way to having a recording contract; in other words, where I had been used to reading stories of famous meetings at Woolton fĂȘtes, jam sessions on double-decker buses, Quarry Men, Silver Beetles, and Hamburg trips, I found myself reading about Ringo's (mostly hospitalized) childhood, his start as a skiffle drummer, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, and so on. This little biography (and by "little", I mean, "over 400 freaking pages") rounds out the history of The Beatles and completes the picture, and Clayson does a good job of incorporating actual quotes from Ringo wherever he can.

Fortunately for those of us who can't get enough of The Beatles in paperback, you can now purchase the Ringo biography as part of a four-pack set of biographies, each one focusing on the life of one of the Liverpool Lads. The volume on George's life is also 400 pages, and promises to be a more "in-depth" story than George's own sparse and scattered recollections in I Me Mine (a book which makes up for its paucity of information by being written in George's own inimitable style). I'm looking forward to cracking this one open after I've finished reading Ringo.

The McCartney and Lennon volumes are much slimmer than the Harrison and Starr volumes, but I can only assume that this is because so much has already been written about the Len-Mac duo by other authors, and so perhaps Clayson decided to give their lives a more cursory treatment in favor of focusing on George and Ringo.

It's a handsome set of books, that much is certain. You might want to add it to your bookshelf sooner than later.

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