For this reader, when Brown tells one of the Beatle stories I’ve heard many times and now adds information I didn’t know — or the telling detail that was missing for 50 years — the book is an utter delight. I knew the Beatles were introduced to LSD by their dentist, but now I know exactly who that guy was and how that night unfolded (if you can trust a 55-year-old account from people who were tripping for the first time). The Dylan-turns-them-on-to-pot-for-the-first-time scene, which all Beatlephiles know, also comes to life now in a way it never had before. As does George’s visit to Haight-Ashbury in ’67, which I’d always seen rendered as disillusioning, but according to Brown was life-threatening. I knew the Beatles had their sexual awakening in seamy postwar Hamburg, but I didn’t know that John and Paul actually watched George lose his virginity. This band was tight!
According to Brown, John hit on both Jane Asher before she was with Paul, and on Pattie Boyd while she was with George. Wow. And how fascinating to find out that the famous picture of the Beatles in Miami with the not-yet-champ Muhammad Ali is kind of a lie: It’s not a photo-preserved moment of the rebellious youths of their day recognizing kindred spirits in each other. The Beatles didn’t like Ali (then Clay) at all, and had wanted to pose with the champ, Sonny Liston — and Ali didn’t like them either.