LIFE With the Beatles: Inside Beatlemania, by their Official Photographer Robert Whitaker Hardcover – Sep 25 2012
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About the Author
The editors at LIFE vigorously carry on the traditions of excellence in photography, in journalism, and in telling the story of our country and our world which began with LIFE magazine in 1936 by founding editor and publisher, Henry R. Luce. They have published books on a broad range of subjects, including New York Times bestsellers One Nation, LIFE Picture Puzzle and The American Journey of Barack Obama.
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Whitaker, known chiefly as a fashion photographer, was originally hired after photographing Brian Epstein for the AUSTRALIAN JEWISH NEWS magazine. Assigned to snap all of Epstein's NEMS musical acts, Whitaker and the Beatles clicked and, in short order, he was a part of their inner circle. Along with studio sessions, cover shots, promos and what-not, Whitaker also accompanied JPG&R on their world tours, chronicling their dizzying success. Following his years with the Fabs, Whitaken continued a notable career in rock photography. He was wrapping up production of WITH THE BEATLES when cancer claimed him in 2011.
WITH THE BEATLES is a visual delight. Its 304 pages showcase hundreds of b&w and color pix of JPG&R, many reproduced as full-page or two-page spreads. Whitaker's camera loved the Beatles and his discriminating eye captured them in any number of situations and emotions. His affectionate reminiscences are just as discerning and delightful.
Beatles fans will undoubtedly savor Robert Whitaker's book. It's a magical and insightful tribute to "the music, the excitement, the images, the memories" created by those four talented, charismatic Brits all those years ago. Highly recommended.
I love the Beatles. No..I ADORE them..particularly the "mania" years. So when I had the opportunity to get this book I eagerly took it as it's chock-full of images from my favorite Beatle period.
However..lovely as the book is, it's not (imo) without its flaws. The narrative, for one, leaves much to be desired. I often felt like it was written by some fourteen year old. It was clumsy and awkwardly written in some cases and sometimes had poor syntax. The tone also reeked too much of "gushiness" vs. professional objectivity. Granted, we are talking about the "frilly and fun" mania years, but even the Life tribute to John had a more professional tone.
Then there is the multiple references to "One Direction", a popular "boy band" from the UK. How one can even mention them in the same sentence as The Beatles, I don't know. Seems rather sacrilegious to me.
A little further on when you get to the '65 years and images of "The Music of Lennon & McCartney", it is more than insinuated that by the looks on the boys' faces, they knew the "end was near" (to paraphrase). I found that highly laughable that the narrator could surmise that based on John and Paul's looks. He/she obviously arrived at this "conclusion" based on what we already know of events to come, but at that time, I doubt the boys were even thinking such things. They've certainly never mentioned it in interviews during that period..and while they looked bored, tired and even disinterested in some of these "L&M" shots, to suggest it was because they knew the "clock was ticking" is ludicrous. Perhaps they were tired/bored, etc. because it had been a long day of rehearsal for them.
Also..within that same genius "assessment", it was suggested that their faces reflected the effects of time, pressure, drugs and home life. However, as in the above statement, it's far too easy a conclusion to draw given what we already know. Yes, some of these assessments turned out to be obviously true, however, I didn't see anything but two young men on a soundstage when I looked at these particular pictures. To suggest that every photo that displayed a frown or a distant look was indicative of dissatisfaction with the Beatle "machine" is a bit irresponsible, imo. Yes, it could be true that this was, in part, so..but there could have been other reasons, as well..and I just feel that the narrator could have exercised more objectivity than to make so many assumptions that were, no doubt, influenced by the eventual outcome of the group. I think the photos should have been discussed on their own merits, is all I'm trying to say.
..and speaking of the photos..curiously, not every photo is given an explanation, which I found disappointing..so you are pretty much left to guess at the circumstances there.
I also thought I saw John and Cyn's marriage referred to as "tumultuous" at one point in these pages, but can't now find evidence of it. If I did read what I thought, let it be noted that '65, by many accounts (and Cynthia's, herself) was a great year for the Lennon family..and in fact, there are a few very lovely photos that Robert has included in this book which showcase the love between John and Cynthia.
Lastly, I am a "John-girl", so perhaps I am biased..but, to me, The Beatles were always John's band...so referring to John and Paul as the "Beatle bosses"..and stating that the group was "obviously run" by them, is not an accurate statement, imo. To say John and Paul were the dominant songwriting team within the group is far more accurate to me..since there can only be one leader within a band...and for me, it was definitely John. As early as '63 interviews and as "late" as a '97 Paul interview, it was expressed as much who "ran the show."
Overall, though, these things aside, it was a good book and I'm glad I bought it..but I have to say, not being a casual fan, that I have seen at least half of these pictures, already..so if you are a "die-hard", like me, you will have more than likely come upon some or many of these pictures in your "photobucket" travels..but, nevertheless, this is an enjoyable "coffee table" type of book that you can enjoy opening up and looking at now and then to remind you/reflect for you what the Beatlemania era was really like.
Out of the hundreds of books published about the Beatles, who better than LIFE and Robert Whitaker to share with fans new and old what the Beatles were about and what they defined to a generation of youths attempting to find themselves after 1963 and overall, during a pivotal decade of change from bobby socks to mop tops and later mods and pyschedelia. Within the pages of this large bound and noticeably by this reader quite heavy books of the band to include over 300 pages of over-sized photos and brief backstage stories of where and when the photos were taken during the band's three year whirlwind tour across the globe from the United States, Europe, and Far East; in the most candid and personal moments to the most public in front of thousands of screaming fans from baseball stadiums in the US to the Budokan, a martial arts hall in Tokyo, which is now ever so famous for live rock shows, but during the Beatles' visit a controversial event that prompted anti-western protest. Besides, the very interesting tour photos other busy tasks occurred in between, performances on variety shows such as the Ed Sullivan Show and promotional clips, movie set footage from Help! and most notably, photo shoots for the bands' album and single covers. Here is a bit of trivia, Whitaker was the photography responsible for the initial US Capitol records compilation album cover for "Yesterday and Today" or the infamous Butcher cover, which would be later replaced by another picture that he took that literally speaks for itself, the band looking exhausted and living in a suitcase due to tour date after tour date. And this is one of many reasons why the history of the Beatles never ceases to amaze even the oldest or youngest fan.
Every new generation of fans introduced first by the music of the Beatles will no doubt delve into the world of what was Beatlemania. And when they do, not only is the music pertinent to understanding who the Beatles really were and why they are symbolic to popular culture, after acquiring this book and others, they will find it beneficial and most importantly, a piece of documented history through photographs.
It's a nice size too; a mid-sized "coffee table" book.
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