Magical Mystery Tours: My Life With The Beatles
By Tony Bramwell with Rosemary Kingsland
MAGICAL MYSTERY TOURS: MY LIFE WITH THE BEATLES tells the story of the Beatles from an "insiders" view with a remarkable collection of tales from someone who was there throughout the entire Beatles career. Not only did Tony Bramwell grow up with George Harrison, but became a Beatles roadie before Mal Evans and Neil Aspinal entered the Beatles saga. Working for both NEMS and Apple, Bramwell gives firsthand knowledge of many of the known Beatles stories.
But it is the lesser-known stories that I found so appealing. For instance the fact that John Lennon hooked up with Yoko much earlier than the "official" TWO VIRGINS story. While Bramwell vilifies Yoko (as well as Allen Klein), it is refreshing to see an unsanitized version of the John & Yoko story that doesn't tow the shallow hippie line that accepts anything that John did as gospel. I found it humorous to hear how engineer Norman Smith sent a copy of the Beatles first hit (before it was officially released) "Please, Please Me" to Decca under a different name - just to see if Decca would turn down The Beatles yet again! (And yes, they did!) Also told is how The Beatles had to "sneak" in to re-do the soundtrack for the Shea Stadium film because the original sound was atrocious. Humorously, Bramwell comes clean and admits he called a radio station at the height of the "Paul Is Dead" rumors and impersonated Paul McCartney. He also mentions a very rare collectible: the very first pressing of an Apple record was a one-disc only customized version of "The Lady is a Tramp" by Frank Sinatra, sung for Maureen Starr's birthday! When discussing possible songs for inclusion on ABBEY ROAD, a very early unfinished version of "Imagine" was presented. These are just a few of the Beatles-related stories I loved.
In addition to The Beatles, you get to read about a virtual who's who of not only rock 'n roll (Beatles, Stones, Who, etc), but the Hollywood elite (Burt, Liz & Jayne Mansfield) and the 'old guard' of entertainment (Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin). Tony Bramwell is a Forest Gump-like character and the sheer amount of famous people he dealt with is mind boggling, whether it is meeting Buddy Holly in person or hanging out with Keith Moon!
Some might say that this book offers nothing new - but that it simply not true. While it might not offer the scandals like the Peter Brown "insiders" book, it perfectly captures the spirit of the magical '60s (unlike the Andrew Loog Oldham book, which I found a little droll.) and what it was like to be inside the eye of the Beatles hurricane. This is the best Beatles "insider" book I have read since the Pete Shotton book.
Review by Ronnie
Ear Candy Magazine