Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Longest Cocktail Party-- a book review

I have been reading a lot of comments about the book The Longest Cocktail Party by Richard DiLello as being one of the best Beatle books out there.    I had read the book twice before:  once in the 1980's and once 10-15 years ago.    So I wondered if the famous book about what was going on at Apple Offices written by the "House Hippie"   was still a good book after all of these years?    

Richard DiLello work for Apple from 1968-1970 as the "House Hippie," which was a real job at Apple Records.   He wasn't just a guy that hung around the offices and smokes pot all day long, but he worked for Apple.    His main job was one that I would do just about anything to have--he worked for Derek Taylor in the press office.  His responsibility was to go through the newspapers and clip all of the articles about the Beatles and file them.     He also worked with Apple recording artists, White Trash and was a photographer.  

Richard's book was one of the first from a Beatles "insider" that told the truth about what went on at Apple and didn't really hold back.    Written in 1972,  Richard 's memories were still fresh.   He told of a place that had a party atmosphere every day.    People were drinking alcohol and smoking pot while working in the offices.   3 Savile Row was filled with a cast of characters such as members of the Hell's Angels and their group of cronies, a family known as "Emily's family" that walked around naked and hoped to get John Lennon to go to Fiji with them, a guy that would sit cross-legged on top of the file cabinets, and  a guy that thought he was Hitler and a guy who came in every day with poetry he had written among others.   The phone rang off the hook constantly and people were constantly coming in and out, which was why many, many things were stolen out of the offices.   Everything from typewriters to aluminum on the roof to alcohol and anything else.     The folks that actually worked for Apple loved the Beatles so much.    They would do just about anything for the Fab 4 and worshiped them and everything they did.

I found this book to be more enjoyable while I read it this time around than I had in the past.   I think the reason why I liked it more was because some of the "minor" characters in the book have since  written their stories.   People like Chris O'Dell, Kevin Harrington, and Denis O'Dell were mentioned in the book, but having now read their books, it helps bring a complete picture of Apple Offices in the late 1960's.        I liked that the book was fun and light-hearted.  The chapters are short and easy to read.   The stories were told with humor and admiration for the Beatles.

Do you know what annoys me about this book?   The same thing that has annoyed me about it the other times I read it.   I HATE how Richard DiLello refers to himself in the 3rd person throughout the entire book.    "The House Hippie" said such and such or "The House Hippie" did this and that.   What is that about?  Does he always speak about himself in 3rd person?    Is he Elmo from Sesame Street?    I mean this is his story about his experience.   And likewise he talks of Derek Taylor as "the Press Officer" as if he didn't have name.       I also didn't like that there is a lot of dialog and you aren't always sure who is saying what.  

But---yes this book is a must have on every Beatle fans' bookshelf.    If you have never read it, you need to get a copy and read it today.  And if it has been awhile, it is well worth taking a second look.

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