Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Living the Beatles Legend: A Book Review






 

If you have spent any time here at MTBFR, you will quickly learn that my favorite person in Beatledom (outside of the Fab 4 obviously) has always been Mal Evans.  He caught my eye when I first became a fan some 30 years ago because of his resemblance to my Grandpa who passed away in 1994 (although through this book I learned that my Grandpa was taller than Mal).  Because of his appearance, I tried to learn more about the Beatles road manager and quickly discovered that there was not much out there about him.  

When I started this site, I decided that I was going to dig and find more information about Mal Evans and learned all about the book he was writing at the time of his death and also about his diaries (my Grandpa was also a man that kept a diary, so that really interested me).   On this site, I questioned how a book that was almost finished could disappear and never see the light of day.   At one point I even questioned if it had information in it that Apple didn't want us to know.  

So it is with tears of joy that I write this review, because not only are Mal Evan's diaries and manuscripts safe and sound, but Kenneth Womack used them exclusively to write the book Living the Beatles Legend: The Untold Story of Mal Evans.  

I finished reading the book a few days ago and I have taken some time to digest it.   Like all well-written Beatles books,.I am going to need to re-read it to truly grasp it all.   But WOW -- what a journey Ken takes the reader on through Mal's life.   It is a tragically sad story from start to end, yet it is also filled with so much joy.   Mal was there for everything The Beatles experienced.  Every tour, every album, holidays, India, the rooftop -- you name the event and there is a 99.9% chance Mal was there (the only thing I think he missed was the Maharishi in Wales when they learned of Brian's death).   And this book is his story told through his words.   You don't get the same old Beatles stories in this book.  So much new information is hidden within the covers.   

There were a few things in the book that I was originally disappointed about (namely what was said about The Apple Scruffs) but I really shouldn't have been.  Living the Beatles Legend is not a Beatles history book and should not be read as if it is.  Some of the things in the book contradict stories that are canon in Beatles lore (for example the back story of the song Let It Be).   But the things in the book are Mal's point of view and taken from his own manuscripts and his own memories.   As far as Mal was concerned, Let It Be was written because in India when Paul started singing "Mother Malcolm comes to me...."   I am happy to say that this book truly is Mal Evan's story.   A man who up until recent years has just been a footnote.   He led an incredible life, and you just have to read it to understand. 

The book itself is not difficult to read, however, do be warned that Ken uses words sometimes that I had to look up in the dictionary so that I was sure I knew what they meant.  I read the book while I was on the road -- on airplanes and in hotel rooms mostly and I don't think that was the right way to read it.  I am going to re-read it when I have a chance to really dig deeper.   And I just love Beatles books that give me a chance to do more research and learn more. 

I  have to give Living the Beatles Legend the title of Best Beatle Book of 2023 (well umm...right after Dear Beatle People naturally) because of the new stories and information that has been discovered from the book.   I recommend all Beatle fans should read it and it would be the perfect gift for family and friends to get Beatle lovers for Christmas.   

As I finished it, I couldn't help but think that Mal was smiling down, happy that his story has finally been told.  The words he wrote over 47 years ago are finally being read by people who love the Beatles.  Thanks, Mal, and thanks, Ken. 



  
*Please know that this Amazon link is my affiliate link.  I receive a very small percentage of money from the sale of anything purchased through this link.   I use the funds received through the Amazon affiliate link to pay for the annual fees associated to keep this site online.  

11 comments:

  1. For years I've wanted to see a comprehensive biography of Mal; even better an autobiography. Sounds like this might be pretty close. I don't know if this book has any technical information regarding the band's instruments/setups, but perhaps that could be used for another book in the future. But even without that, I'm sure it's amazing.

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    1. Beatles Gear is a great in-depth book about all that and more.

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    2. I have to agree that Beatles Gear is THE book about all Beatles instruments and anything you need to know about the set up. Living the Beatles Legend is Mal's life story as told by Mal and doesn't get too much into the instruments.

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    3. Beatles Gear is a great book; I was just wondering what sort of insights Mal would have had regarding setting up the equipment, packing it, protecting it, etc. Even without that first-hand info, Mal's life touched so many aspects of the Beatles lives and times. I'm looking forward to getting a copy at some point.

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  2. have been waiting for this book for a long time - it will be interesting

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  3. will this be coming out in a cheaper paperback book? unemployed at this time.

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    1. Have not seen a paperback issue date, but I've seen audio versions of the book on Amazon for as low as 14 US dollars.

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  4. Took the plunge and read it, since we've been hearing forever about the myth re: Mal's diaries. A 500+ page book, with ALOT of the pages dedicated to rehashing stories weve heard a million times before. Some diary stories get repeated over and over to the point of nauseum: Mal takes gear to gig, Mal breaks gear down after gig, Mal keeps fans at arms length, etc and so on. Mal had 2 loves in his life: his family and The Beatles. He devoted most of his time to the latter, which was unfortunate on many levels. At times the 4 were ASTONISHINGLY cold and cruel to him. Reading the book you sometimes wish he would flip them the bird, tell them all where to go, and find another employer who would treat him right. But every time Mal would excuse their bad behavior, and rationalize it every time -- sad. Seems he lacked self-esteem, which the 4 of them fed off of and exploited, imo. I do think this is a worthy read, but not for $50 ! Recommend the cheaper paperback when it comes out, or a used copy.

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    1. I didn't think there was a whole lot of re-telling of stories. Many of the stories were new to me and none of the stories have been told from Mal's point of view. Books are so expensive to publish these days. $50 for a hardback book is the going rate because publishing prices (like all things) are through the roof. I sell my book for $60 on Amazon and I get $3 per book.

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    2. I think everyone knows about supply chain issues, inflation, etc. As I said the book is a worthy read. But at $50? That depends on the customer.

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