Magical Mystery Tours –
My Life with The Beatles
By Tony Bramwell (with Rosemary Kingsland)
Portico – £9.99
Fastidious and fraught with fascinating insight into the meteoric rise of the Fab Four, Tony Bramwell’s Magical Mystery Tours is as enjoyable as it extramural as it is exclusive. Crammed with groovy tales of sex’n’drug’n’rock’n’roll betwixt the Liverpool foursome, it’s a great roller-coaster ride/read of a book – simply because it was written by someone who was actually there (and let’s face it, there couldn’t have been that many…).
Written from the inside out, Bramwell just happened to be an inadvertent fly on the wall during what had to be an amazing time. Prior to the full-throttle onslaught of impending Beatlemania for instance, he sheds a tad of dizzy discernment upon the band’s early days at The Cavern: ‘’When the Beatles ran down the steps and arrived in the cellars, they would hang on to each other’s waists, heads down, and snake their way through the crowd in the famous ‘Cavern Conga’ – the humorous nickname it was given by Cavern regulars, who would egg them through with cheers and a typically rowdy Scouser welcome […].’’
Such early day, in depth detail, is what accounts for this book’s charm and profuse readability. There is after all, a veritable plethora of books on The Beatles – several of which have already been reviewed below, numerous of which will (continue to) be reviewed above. And due to the abundance of said literature written, discussed, considered, re-considered, re-written and totally analysed, there surely isn’t that much left to say or write about the band, that we don’t already know.
But reading a book like Magical Mystery Tours makes for rather refreshing reading; especially given the author tells it as it was, with an objective and laudable assurance. Writing in chapter thirteen (1966-1967), Bramwell states: ‘’An artist of mass destruction named Yoko Ono was heading toward London from New York early in September 1966. We weren’t aware of it at the time – no one was – but she should have come with a warning sign stuck to her, like a cigarette packet, because gradually, inch by inch she intruded into our lives.’’
Many might construe the latter line ‘’she intruded into our lives’’ (my italics), as something of a possessive persuasion. Most people are after all, fully aware of what came next by way of Yoko’s hold, sway and influence over John Lennon. Although the mere fact that Bramwell has had the courage of his conviction(s) to write as such, is both candid and commendable.
Rather like this book.
Admittedly, there are occasions when it’s just a little too smug for my liking: ‘’everybody – including the Beatles, me and all our friends – jumped in and out of bed with London girls in the most heterosexual way. Sometimes, we’d find ourselves in bed with two girls at a time […].’’ Yet the light shed amid Magical Mystery Tours , far outweighs the author’s transient, tacky complacency. As Paul McCartney is known to have commented: ‘’If you want to know anything about the Beatles, ask Tony Bramwell. He remembers more than I do.’’