Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Do You Want to Know a Secret: Book Review

Billy J. Kramer's autobiography, Do You Want to Know a Secret, tells his story of being a kid in Liverpool who became one of the key players in the Merseybeat Invasion of 1963.  It also tells of his struggles with drugs and alcohol and how he re-invented himself.




The first thing you realize about Billy J. Kramer was that he did not really like being famous.  He wasn't comfortable with the screaming fans.  He really disliked his backing band, The Dakotas.  They did not get along at all.  He also did not get along with George Martin and he did not always see eye to eye with Brian Epstein.

Who did he get along with?   The Beatles.   From the moment he saw them in concert in December 1960, he knew they were going to make it big.  He became friends with John, who gave him the "J" initial (which John said stood for Julian).    In those days Billy didn't write his own songs.  so he sang several Lennon-McCartney originals.    Three of those songs reached #1 on the charts right away, making Billy J. the first artist to do so with a Lennon-McCartney song that wasn't sang by the Beatles.  Billy J. is an introvert and he was not comfortable with his new-found fame.



After his three big hits, he struggled to do it again.  He wasn't getting along with those around him and began drinking and became an alcoholic.   It was many years of suffering until Billy J. sought help and got sober.

I really felt like something was missing from this book, but I never could put my finger on it.   It is a very short book and you get a feeling that he left out a lot of information.  I also do not think he has been completely honest with himself, as he places blame on others but doesn't ever point out that he could have been at fault as well.

Things I enjoyed in this book were some of the Beatles things Billy witnessed.  He was at Paul's infamous 21st birthday party and tells what John did after the fight with Bob Wooler.    You also hear the story up until the fight, but Billy was there for the entire thing.     I also loved Brian Epstein while reading the book.  While Brian and Billy argued from time to time, Brian never stopped caring about him.  It was obvious that Brian did whatever he could to help and encourage the singer.  Even after the Beatles stopped touring, Brian was working to get Billy J. gigs.  I think that it wasn't until after Brian's death that Billy began to appreciate all he had done for him and came to understand just how special Brian Epstein truly was.



Do you want to know a Secret was an interesting book, and it was worth reading.  However, I am sure it will be a book that sits in my Beatles library and won't get read again.

You can purchase the book through Amazon  or if you want a signed copy, you can get it through The Fest.   

6 comments:

  1. Ooh yes, I'd heard about J standing for Julian...John thought Billy J. Kramer sounded strong or something like that. J for Julian - was he thinking about his son's name? I'm not really sure about the timing here, but it's understandable that he got the idea from there, but when Cyn wanted to name him Julian, John thought it was a very sissy sounding name, but gave in because it reminded him of his mother.

    It was nice review nonetheless, thanks :)

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    1. John feared that Julian may be a sissy name but it lasted a moment. He quickly realized that naming his son after his mother was more important. Then he marked his son's birth by suggesting inserting a J in Billy Kramer's name. Billy wasn't a fan of the name but went along with it.

      Sara, was the Julian bit a passing mention? Or a good paragraph or two long?

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    2. It was just a sentence or two. Not a lot of "meat" in the entire book.

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  2. Leave talented peolple alone go pick on all the crummy Beatle copy Bands
    Who are spoiling there legasy and are getting in the way of peole with original talent

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    1. Was this comment aimed toward me? I never said that I didn't think Billy J. Kramer wasn't talented. I actually enjoy his music very much. I didn't even dislike his book. It just didn't leave a big impression on me and I don't think it is one that I will re-read, but I am glad that I got it and read it once.

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    2. I would jus like to,say,people can say whatever thy want to.,about
      Artists but when I,wanted to,respond,And give,answers
      I am told don't write a book,about iit if my book helped anybody not to
      Suffers the effects of addiction it was all worth while writhing my book

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