Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I should have known better by Geoffrey Ellis - a book review

Geoffrey Ellis is one of those names in the Beatles world that you think, "Oh yeah, I have heard that, who exactly is he?"  Ellis was the personal assistant to Brian Epstein at NEMS beginning in 1964 until Brian's death.  Afterwards he worked at Dick James music for about a year until he began working with Elton John.  But the reason why you might recall the name "Geoffrey Ellis" is because he and Peter Brown were staying at Brian Epstein's country house. Eppy was with them for a bit and then decided to leave to return back to his home in London to return to his guests the next day. Brown and Ellis were in a pub when they got word that their friend had died, and so they rushed back to London to see what on earth was happening.

Knowing this information before reading this book, one would assume that  Geoffrey Ellis and Peter Brown were friends. However, once you read this book, you will quickly discover that Ellis never cared much for Brown, and their only real connection was their friendship with Brian Epstein.  Geoffrey had been friends with Brian from way back in Liverpool and eventually Geoffrey left England to work in the United States for an Insurance Company. Through a series of event he was asked by Brian to work at NEMS and he agreed.

His job was to do the paperwork that Brian was overwhelmed with and honestly did not want to do.   Ellis makes it very clear that he does NOT like the Beatles' music and is NOT a fan of the group.   He highly dislikes Lennon and takes jabs here and there throughout the book at John and his wit.   Personally, I think Ellis was just too conservative for John.  

There were some interesting stories in the book, but overall, I found the writing to be dry and a bit boring. At times, I felt like Ellis went into too much detail about things that weren't important (like what the inside of the limo was like) and not enough detail about working with the Beatles.   However, I did enjoy reading about Brian Epstein because Ellis did not focus on Brian's homosexuality, as so many books seem to do. Obviously, it wasn't ignored in the book, but in regards to Brian, this book showed that he was a person and not just "The Beatles gay Jewish manager."

My favorite part of the book was the reproduction of a manuscript Brian's secretary, Wendy Hanson, began writing before she died.    Now, that is a book that would have been interesting.

Paul and Geoffrey Ellis in 1989

This book wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either.  It is one that Beatle book completest will want to have in their collections, but it isn't a must-read.

The link below is the affiliate link to Amazon, where you can purchase this book.  I get a small percentage of anything purchased through this link.  Money made from the Amazon Afflication is used to pay the annual fee to keep this site online.  Thank you for your support.  Sara


  1. Ellis actually signed some of the performance contracts for the Beatles first full fledged tour of America in 1964. Brian must have given some type of legal authority to do so....

  2. It is always interesting to read something from one who had been around when the lads were really The Beatles and it's always rather a different perspective. The one thing I find is that in general Brian Epstein never actually gets the credit he truly deserved - if it wasn't for him we wouldn't have had the pleasure of those brilliant four. Oh yeah he discovered them at the Cavern but there was so much more all those years ago.