New book explores the influences of the Beatles
The Beatles are arguably the most influential cultural phenomena of the 20th century. They inspired countless bands that followed in their wake. But who inspired the Beatles? Author Bruce Pollock tackled that question in his latest book, "If You Like The Beatles..." from Backbeat Books.
"If You Like The Beatles..." explores the influences and impact of "The Fab Four." Appropriately enough, the decision to use the Beatles as the subject to inaugurate the new series from the Hal Leonard publishing group makes sense for a number of reasons. As the preeminent Baby Boomer band, The Beatles still exert a massive impact on the culture, over 50 years after they initially got together.
The book begins with a discussion of the many groups and singers who influenced The Beatles, including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Cliff Richard, and The Everly Brothers. Rockabilly and Rhythm and Blues were also big favorites of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Perhaps their biggest early mentor would be George Martin, a studio pro who had worked on one of John Lennon's favorite radio programs, The Goon Show. Throughout their career, it was to Martin they turned whenever the band wished to explore a new stylistic direction.
The Beatles' numerous innovations led to plethora of musical branches, including folk rock and acid rock. Author Pollock explores these stylistic detours in depth. The saga of Apple Records is recounted as well, including the fact that James Taylor was released after recording one album for the label; his stint with Warner Bros. Records would prove to be far more successful.
"The Anti-Beatles" is an intriguing chapter, chronicling the many individuals and groups who were less than worshipful towards The Beatles. These include Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, whose We're Only In It For The Money was a hilarious parody of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Other "Anti-Beatles" include The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, and The Sex Pistols.
Pollock also includes some interesting lists towards the back of his book. One of the most entertaining is "100 Covers," featuring lesser-known cover versions of Beatles songs, such as Peter Sellers doing "Can't Buy Me Love," and Mae West's version of "Day Tripper." Additionally, there are several Lennon/McCartney compositions given to other artists with whom music fans may not be familiar: does anyone remember "That Means a Lot" by P.J. Proby?
Connecticut-based Pollock is the author of 12 books, including the acclaimed By the Time We Got to Woodstock: The Great Rock & Roll Revolution of 1969, also from Backbeat books, which The Huffington Post called "...the best primer on our culture's history and psychology precipitating Woodstock to date and is mandatory reading for anyone wanting to rip through the hippie veils shrouding that year's biggest musical event." His lauded 1982 work, When the Music Mattered: Portraits from the 1960s, has just been reissued as an ebook.
If You Like The Beatles... is sure to be a winner with Beatles fans, baby boomers, and music fans alike. Pollock has collected a number of little-known factoids and laid them out chronologically in his book, and has not skimped on demystifying well-known myths.
"If You Like The Beatles..." is now available at Amazon.
Published January 6, 2012