One has to wonder what there is left to say about The Beatles, the world’s greatest and most popular and successful musical group. More than 50 years after they recorded their first album, 40 years after their bitter breakup, and thousands of books and articles about the Fab Four, British author Mark Lewisohn has published a massive, exhaustive and scholarly new work about the lads from Liverpool. And this 960-page behemoth -- "The Beatles: All These Years, Volume 1:Tune In” -- is only the first of three volumes, according to the Wall Street Journal, of what he hopes will represent the definitive version of the Beatles’ history.
The next two volumes will take many years to write -- Lewisohn, who is 55 years old, told the Journal that the last volume won’t be complete until he is about 70.
Here are some tidbits from the first volume (which only covers their very early years up to December 1962), which may (or may not) be brand new information to their hundreds of millions of fans around the world:
*In 1970, when John Lennon slept on the floor of Yoko Ono’s hospital room at the London Clinic, he was likely inspired by something he read in the newspaper years earlier. When film star Elizabeth Taylor was at the London Clinic in the early 1960s, her then-husband, Eddie Fisher, also slept on the floor next to her bed.
*Prior to Ringo Starr joining the band in 1962, the three members -- Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison -- referred to themselves as “Japage-3,” suggesting that the band's first drummer, Pete Best, was already on the outs.
*John’s maternal family were Irish Protestants who escaped the potato famine of the 1840s for Liverpool.
*Historical accounts claim that Lennon and McCartney first met at a fete at St. Peter's Church in Woolton, Liverpool, in July 1957. But Lewisohn claims they actually met even earlier, outside a newsagent shop called Abba.
*During the “Quarry Men” days, Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison were better known as “Lennie, Macca and Hazza.”
*The oft-repeated story that a very young John was forced into the trauma of having to choose either to live with his mother, Julia, in Liverpool, or join his wayward seafaring father, Alfred, in New Zealand, is apparently untrue.
*Another legendary tale is also incorrect --- manager Brian Epstein apparently did not purchase 10,000 copies of The Beatles’ first single, ‘Love Me Do,” in order to pump up sales.
*Another mythical story also proved to be untrue – John never urinated on nuns from a balcony in Hamburg, Germany.
*Little Richard (who sometimes toured with the Beatles in the early years) was appalled by Lennon's practice of public flatulence.
*McCartney's hostile relationship with Stu Sutcliffe (the Liverpool artist who was a close friend of Lennon's and briefly played bass for the group before dying from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1962) was even more pronounced than previously thought. Sutcliffe wrote in a letter that “everyone hates him [Paul].”
*Drummer Ringo Starr lost his virginity at a “fun fair” (sort of like a travelling carnival), while the much better looking McCartney struck out.
*McCartney and Harrison, as teenagers, were so obsessed with mastering the guitar they once travelled into Liverpool’s distant suburbs (making two bus transfers) to find a man they had heard could play a B-7 chord.
*All of the Beatles narrowly escaped being called into national service (military), a fate their idol, Elvis Presley, could not avoid in the U.S. (One has to wonder if the Beatles would have ever happened had they served in Her Majesty’s forces).
*McCartney's Liverpool girlfriend Dot Rhone claims that she and Cynthia Powell (Lennon's girlfriend and then-future first wife) were forbidden from discussing music in the boys’ company.
*When McCartney was making £18 a week to play in Hamburg, he was already earning almost double the salary his father Jim earned at the Liverpool Cotton Exchange.