Tuesday, 23 August 2016

HUNTER DAVIES DISCUSSES THE CONTROVERSIAL RATINGS SYSTEM USED IN HIS NEW BOOK ON THE BEATLES

The man who wrote the Beatles’ only authorised biography has revealed his picks for what he considers their worst songs, while cheerfully admitting he is “asking for trouble”.
But if anyone can get away with such a bold move, it’s probably Hunter Davies - whose biography on the Four Lads Who Shook The World was published way back in 1968 after he had spent 18 months living in their shadows.
It’s an exciting time for Beatles fans. International Beatleweek (August 24-30) is upon us, and Hunter, now 80, is heading to Liverpool to discuss his “legacy” – The Beatles Book (to be published on September 1 by Ebury).
Four years in the making, it is the definitive guide to everything and everyone associated with The Beatles, and is divided into sections: People, Places, Songs and Broadcast and Cinema.
Its rating system (using mop tops!) grades particular subjects out of 10 – and includes lists such as 10 Best Songs, 10 Worst Songs and 10 Most Influenial People.
Though Hunter had the final say, he was helped by a top trio of Beatles experts and authors who worked with him on the book: Spencer Leigh and David Bedford from Liverpool and Keith Badman.

Hunter said: “I know it’s normal to rate hotels and restaurants, but rating The Beatles? I’m just asking for trouble!
“Hopefully the way we have done it will inspire people and provoke some discussion. But regarding the ‘10 Worst Songs’ list, I know that for the real hardcore Beatles fan there is no such thing as a bad Beatles song!”
Here are three of the lists from the book – let the discussions (and arguments) begin... Leave your comments or your own picks for best and worst in the comments section.

Top 10 best songs

She Loves You
She Said She Said
She’s Leaving Home
Something
Strawberry Fields Forever
Tomorrow Never Knows
Yesterday
Eleanor Rigby
I Want To Hold Your Hand
Love Me Do

Top 10 worst songs

Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?
I Call Your Name
Revolution 9
Savoy Truffle
Wild Honey Pie
You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
All Together Now
Birthday
Oh! Darling
Only a Northern Song

Top 10 most influential people


Brian Epstein
Richard Lester
George Martin
Yoko Ono
Tony Sheridan
Ed Sullivan
Neil Aspinall
Derek Taylor
Bob Wooler
Pete Best

Of the book, Hunter says: “It was the idea of Andrew Goodfellow (senior publishing director for Ebury Press at Random House). He said ‘Let’s do a Beatles encyclopaedia, but I told him ‘It’s all been done’. Then he came back and said I could use my collection of personal artefacts and memorabilia (from the time he spent with the band) and it would be my legacy. That’s what really did it.
“Then I thought ‘I’ve got to think of an unusual way of doing it’.”
And describing his team of Spencer, David and Keith, he says: “They are all real experts – I’m not an expert. I can never remember facts and figures. Spencer, for example, is very meticulous and was permanently telling me off for getting things wrong. He is also a good speller and is good on grammar and punctuation.


“It was also a team effort deciding on the ratings, but I did have the last word.”
And Hunter adds: “Everyone involved has done a brilliant job – the book is huge and looks great!”
Rewinding to his days with the band in 1967 and 1968, the London-based author says: “I didn’t want it to stop. I loved doing the book and was thrilled to do it. But, of course, I never knew it would be the only authorised biography. My book appeared in 1968 and by 1970 the band had split up – so there wasn’t a chance for anyone else to write another one. I had expected another hack or writer would get access to them three or four years after me.”
Hunter has especially happy memories of witnessing the band creating classic, groundbreaking material at Abbey Road Studios.
He explains: “I was able to listen to The Beatles creating Sgt Pepper – sitting in a corner in the bowels of the studio with headphones on with (the band’s personal assistant) Neil Aspinall. Visitors including Mick Jagger and other friends weren’t allowed in the bowels – they had to sit behind a glass panel.
“I used to think ‘If The Beatles have a row and turn on me I’d be grieving – and the book will never be published’. But I also remember thinking ‘At least I would have had the experience of being there when they were creating music.’”
And what did Hunter make of the Four Lads, themselves?

Hunter on Paul McCartney

“He is a conservative person with a small ‘c’. He’s had the same house in London for so much of his life and would have been with the same wife (Linda) all his life if she had not died. He is charming and wants to delight. He is very good at handling the press, public and fans.
“Of the four, he was the most naturally musically-gifted. He can play any instrument – and it’s not true that he can just do sweet, soppy tunes.”

Hunter on John Lennon

“He was the most original thinker and character. Musically, he was not quite as rounded as Paul, but he was so gifted.
“He did have this lazy streak and wouldn’t finish things, because he got bored. But the good thing is – regarding the writing of the songs – he and Paul were in competition with each other.”


Hunter on George Harrison

“George was always the best guitarist in the group – the best performer in many ways. But he was so much younger than the others they didn’t realise how creative he was.”

Hunter on Ringo Starr

“Ringo was the common man. He was the ordinary guy in the group, because he was not competing against the others – he wasn’t there to do that.”
When talking to people from within the band’s inner circle, fans and journalists always wanted to know who their favourite Beatle was – and Hunter says: “(Assistants) Neil (Aspinall) and Mal (Evans) would reply ‘The one I was last with’. So I pinched that!”

Hunter reveals: “I wish I’d written more about their music. I was in the studio with them so many times but didn’t always write up notes at the end of the day.
“And I didn’t tape record anything. I spoke to so many of their family members – but if only I’d interviewed them on tape!”

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