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Book Review: Paul McCartney
The magic of the Beatles has survived for
almost half a century, and a large part of that magic has to be (Sir) Paul
McCartney, so he would have been a natural selection for Christopher Sandford,
a man who has written autobiographies of other famous musicians, including
Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Sting, Bruce Springsteen and Keith
The book, simply entitled “Paul McCartney” (ISBN 0-09-947130-2, Arrow
Books 2006) begins by relating the (in)famous drug bust when McCartney was
arraigned in Japan in 1980 for being in possession of a small amount of
marijuana. An excellent beginning to the book that has already taken you into
the drug world of the famous ex-Beatle by page 4.
The early part of the book then runs into the McCartney youth history, his
interest in music and his meeting with John Lennon and George Harrison and
then into the formation of the Beatles as we knew them, and their relationship
with manager Brian Epstein. As you turn the pages, you see the slow maturing
of the ‘Fab Four’ and the influences upon them, which all helped to create
the phenomenon which has left an indelible mark in the musical history of the
world. It is also noted that Decca Records turned the Beatles down in 1962,
with their representatives saying they would never make it. How wrong can you
be? But for Paul McCartney, Epstein made him famous and he was only 20 years
old. It is a small wonder he did not go further off the rails than he did.
Reading through the book is a window on the life of a true artist with
prodigious output. Whilst he and John Lennon combined on many numbers, you can
see that many were more McCartney than Lennon, and of course his output
continued long after the Beatles’ and Lennon’s unfortunate demise.
The financial machinations behind the once free-wheeling, free-spending
Beatles reads like a fantasy, showing just how far removed from reality, the
four musicians had come. At one stage Lennon remarking that they had to earn
20,000 pounds to have one thousand to spend.
Like so many creative people, both Lennon and McCartney had their mania and
their depressions, with McCartney’s down side being much deeper, but
possessing a totally indomitable ego.
The book is comprehensive and will take you right through to today and the
Heather Mills separation. It is Paul McCartney.
Christopher Sandford has painstakingly collected the information and has
written McCartney’s biography in a clear and lucid style, not pandering to
his famous subject, nor attempting to explain a very deep and complex
character in minutiae. The book also details the bibliography, sources and
quotes and an index, plus some ‘family album’ photographic pages, which
really does little for the book, as Sandford’s words do not need them in any
At B. 450, this is an excellent book for any fan of McCartney’s, or even as
a reference book for those researching the history of modern music. I found it
fascinating. He was a man who experienced sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, and
lived through it!
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