I am currently re-reading the controversial book from 1983, The Love you Make by Peter Brown and Steven Gaines for the new feature of Wednesday Reviews where I take a look at a "classic" Beatles book and see if it holds up to what was written about it when it was originally published.
At the time, Peter Brown's Beatles biography caused quite a disturbance in the world of Beatles fans. It was really the first book that told the Beatles' story with a lot of juicy gossip. 1983 was a time when bookstores weren't saturated with a new Beatles book every few weeks. The book sold 225,000 copies in hardback and spent five months on the national booksellers list.
One would have thought that Peter Brown would have written a memoir of his time as Brian Epstein's personal assistant and working with the Beatles at Apple Records. Instead Peter wrote a complete biography of the band, including times when he was not present (such as the Quarry Men days, the Cavern Club, Hamburg, touring, etc.). Starting in 1979, he interviewed all of the members of the Beatles plus others (such as Cynthia Lennon, Magic Alex, and others who were insiders). He recorded all of the interviews (now those are some tapes I would love to hear!) and in an interview with Bill King in a 1984 issue of Beatlefan magazine, Brown says, "There was no question in Paul and Yoko's case that they wished to come out as best they could in the book and that why they were so overtly and excessively helpful." In the same interview Brown states that Yoko opened up her Florida home to him so that he could work on the book and that he met personally with Paul over several weekend.
So this book was written by a Beatles insider and taken from first hand accounts plus personal interviews with the Beatles and other insiders. So why was this book hated so much at the time that fans began referring to it as "The Muke You Rake?" Why did Mark Lapidos have Brown and Gains as a guest at Beatlefest when the book was first published to decide to have them permanently banned from ever appearing again? Let's take a look at the reasons:
1. It was heavily pushed in the tabloids. In the UK the Sun published exerts from the book with the National Enquirer in the U.S. doing the same. So the book started off in the mind of many as just tabloid gossip and not the truth.
2. So many errors! When a biography of the Beatles states that the last touring concert was at the Cow Palace, you know you have issues. Fan had a difficult time getting past the hundreds of incorrect dates and misspelled names. I will be reading the 2002 re-release, which supposedly has fixed these errors.
3. Steve Gains was a jerk to fans. At the Boston Beatles Convention in 1983, the co-authors were interviewed by Bill Last for Good Day Sunshine . Bill, being a mega-Beatles fan, wanted to know about some detailed information, namely the correct names of the Decca auditions songs. According to the book, the Beatles sang "Red Sails on the Sunset." and Bill wanted to know more about this because fans cannot find this song and he states, "for a lot of people, that an important thing..." to which Gains replies, "No. I don't think for a lot of people. I think for a very, very small select group of people. I think maybe 50 people in all of America that's important to." He went on to say later in the interview, "I wanted to do a story that would fascinate people who really didn't care what the Decca songs were or if we misspelled the third letter of a name."
As you can imagine the die-in the-wool Beatle lovers did not appreciate Steve's words. And fans began to tell each other not to read the book. If he didn't think want the fans were interested in was important, then why support the book?
4. Paul McCartney (and Yoko )said the book was terrible. This is the most powerful one of them all. For one of the Beatles to come and speak out against a book, makes more than just hard-core Beatle fans take notice. Paul appeared on Entertainment Tonight and was asked about the book. He looked into the camera and clearly said, "It was a betrayal." However, Paul didn't stop there. In an interview with Playboy, Linda said, "It is like he doesn't exist. And his book...well, it doesn't matter what he wrote, because he betrayed a trust . We decided not to read it, but we heard things. We put the copy he sent us in the fire and I photographed it as it burned, page by page. As to what he wrote about Paul or about John's experiences, you'll have to ask Paul." Paul chimes in and says, "He told us he was going to write about the music of the 60's, not a book about the Beatles. I took him into my house, something we don't do; we had lunch, showed him the kids, showed him around our village. I actually thought he was a friend."
It is interesting that Paul disliked the book, which he never read, because Peter betrayed their friendship and the Beatle code of not talking, however Paul does not say that the book is full of lies about him. The only thing he speaks of is what Peter says happened in Spain between John and Brian and how it isn't right because neither one of them can speak of themselves.
Peter Brown says the same thing in the Bill King interview, "there are complaints from the principles about the book, but they certainly don't argue with the accuracy of the book. " Peter claims that he and Steve were always honest with Paul about the nature of the book, stating, "When you sit down and talk to Paul about his illegitimate children and if you talk about drug addiction and homosexual relations and wife-swapping --and we talked to George and Pattie and Maureen and Ringo about that -- what did they think we were going to do with the information? Anything that was even remotely sensitive we have on tape. Everyone was taped. I mean, the reason we talked to them about it was we wanted to make sure that one such sensitive subjects that we did in fact get all the four principals' versions of it. "
It will be interesting to see how this book holds up to another reading in 2016. Most of what was scandalous gossip in 1983 is common knowledge today and I might not even think much of it. What do you remember about this book??