British author sets his sights on The Beatles
No matter how much you think you know about The Beatles, Mark Lewisohn probably knows more.
Hundreds of books have been written about the band, but none with such care and authority as those by the 58-year-old British author.
His resume includes comprehensive releases on their concert performances ( The Beatles Live!) and studio work ( The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions), for which he was given a Beatles obsessive’s dream job, getting paid by EMI Records to enter the inner sanctum of the Abbey Road studio and listen to the band’s recordings.
“I was a researcher and realized that the books (on The Beatles) were not quite as well-researched or written as I had expected them to have been,” he says, explaining how he evolved from fan to author.
“One project led to the next and suddenly I found myself with a career as a writer, which I hadn’t actually intended.”
Lewisohn is in the midst of a three-volume biography of The Beatles and most recently contributed text for a coffee-table book about their landmark 1964 film, A Hard Day’s Night.
Here, in an interview, he talks about A Hard Day’s Night, The Beatles’ lasting appeal and the joys of Beatles scholarship:
so much better than movies starring other early rock stars?
As consumers, The Beatles knew those films were rubbish. They hated them. They recognized them for what they were, which was transparently flimsy and knew that should the occasion ever arise when they would be offered a film, they had to be very careful about saying yes.
It is not exactly known how many there were but four or five offers to appear in films were made and they had said no to those. Now, very few artists ever said no because usually the management would not allow them to say no and they themselves think, “I want to be in a film.” The Beatles had the bravery to accept that in saying no to the films they were being offered they might never get to make one but they agreed among themselves.
Researching The Beatles
The Beatles is an extraordinary subject to research because the trail of material is so deep and so rich and so strong all the way down. No matter how deep you dig with this subject you continually find gold. There is something extraordinary. It is all part of what made them so special is that everything around them was special, everything they touched was interesting, everybody who had an association with them is a fascinating character and it all weaves together in the most extraordinary way.
On his planned three-volume biography (The first book, came out in 2013.)
For as long as there are humans on this planet and we have not bombed or gassed ourselves out of existence or whatever it might be, we will be listening to The Beatles and appreciating them and wanting to know who they were and how they did it. If this trilogy is not done it will never be as well-understood or appreciated in its many levels as it actually occurred. I think it’s an important book to write. I think it is important that it is done now whilst the paperwork is still around and whilst the witnesses to the history are still alive to tell it.
The Beatles arrive for their trip to the United States and Canadain 1966.