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Book Review

Book Review: Paul McCartney

by Lang Reid

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 Richards.
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 way whatsoever.
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!