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Title: Beatles Biggest Secrets

Year Of Release: 2007

Review Date: March 10, 2007

Rating: Not rated

Running time: 90 minutes

Box Office Gross: N/A

Recommendation: A revealing look at what went on in the Beatles' camp.

Site Rating: 2 out of 10 stars

Photo courtesy of the BBC

Biggest Secrets

The BBC promised some secrets with the documentary Beatles Biggest Secrets and boy they weren't lying. Some of the stuff in this doco was quite revealing, in terms of what went on behind the scenes, in the lives of the best selling musical act in history, the Beatles.

For example, the bit about the desperate letter found in Paul McCartney's car, from the band's freshly fired manager, Brian Epstein. Upon hearing that, you think, oh he probably just wanted his job back.

Nuh uh. Guess again. Next they tell you it was a love letter...to Paul. Ok then, moving along...

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison AKA the Beatles

Drug Use And Sexual Promiscuity 

The Beatles are no different from thousands of bands in the industry: they came, they saw, they conquered...and got really stoned. Too stoned and it has been the undoing of many.

Famous musicians and actors the world over suffer from what I like to call too-many-options-itis. Too many female options, too many drug options, too many alcohol options and too many opportunities to get into trouble. 

The Beatles fame grew to dizzying levels and sadly, so did the excess that almost did them in. Sex, drugs and rock and roll overwhelmed and tore the band apart...that and a chick named Yoko Bono. Wait, that was Sonny Bono. Pardon, I mean Yoko Ono (just teasing).

The level of drug use was high. I'm sure drugs was the ghostwriter on quite a few on their tracks.

Apparently, drugs handled their PR as well. You've got to know a musician believes his own hype when he thinks and says he is "bigger than Jesus"...which Lennon did. He was probably high, so I'll let that one go.

The documentary revealed the sexual excesses present in their lives as well. Too many sex partners brought a lot of severe heartbreak and broken relationships. 

Financial Mismanagement

A theme common in so many rock and roll stories is financial mismanagement. You almost expect it. Wait for it. And when it arrives in the story, you wonder what took it so long.

This happens because musicians get caught up in living a certain costly lifestyle, not realizing one and one makes two, not three or four.

Another factor contributing to this is musicians usually buy into their fame, believe they'll always be famous and that there will always be money coming in, which is seldom how it plays out, pardon the pun.

The Beatles were making buckets of money...and spending buckets as well. At one point they were losing 50,000 British pounds a week trying to manage themselves via their company Apple (no, not the MAC computer people, who they coincidentally sued later for trademark violations). The doco estimated that in today's money that would be 500,000 per week.

If you wish to add that further, that's 2,000,000 per month, 24,000,000 per year, down the proverbial loo. That's a lot of zeros.

This often happens when artists try to manage themselves without any experience in the field. Just because a person is famous, doesn't mean they're good with a calculator.

 I know the colors are the same and all, but, um, somebody made a mistake, that was the wrong flag in the background (just kidding).

The Hits

The Beatles had really big, landmark hits. Let It Be, The Long And Winding Road, Yesterday and Hey Jude were some of Britain's finest.

I for one, am not ashamed to admit that I thought the lyrical line from Let It Be, "When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be," was in reference to the Virgin Mary.

Ok, no, it wasn't. Turns out Paul McCartney's mom's name was Mary. Yea, I knew that -hair toss- and no, I'm not embarrassed at all.

The Beatles really weren't known for their vocals, per say, like artists such as Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra and Lulu.

Strong songwriting is what drove their success. The use of diction for example, ahem (some modern artists ought to look that word up). I hear modern songs on the radio today and read lyrics online that make me cringe, as they are pure garbage with no meaning, and think I think to myself, 'this won't even hold up or be remembered 10 years from now.'

Apart of the Beatles success and level of fame was also the fact that they arrived on the scene at a time in history that was the perfect setting for such a musical phenomenon.

If it had been now, yea, they'd be successful, but people aren't buying records like they used to and the political air isn't the same.   

That's not to take away from their musical success, but to point out how certain time periods can breed greater successes in music history. In my humble opinion, it has been shown to be the case with many. 

The aforementioned songwriting produced a very lucrative song catalog that is still valuable today. Well, that's because they didn't write ridiculous songs, yesterday, pardon the pun.

They lost control of said catalog, Paul tried to buy it back in the 80's, but Michael Jackson outbid him.

Said catalog has since become the subject of much legal wrangling in the Michael Jackson saga.  

McCartney has been said to be displeased with how the music he authored in said catalog is being licensed (i.e. a Velveeta cheese commercial). Yea, he has a point. 

"When I find myself in times of trouble..."

Behind the Beatles machine was also a lot of pain, loss and despair. They had many highs and some terrible lows:

They all struggled with drugs abuse.

Lennon's first wife came home to find Yoko Ono naked in her bathroom, effectively destroying their marriage.

Sadly, John Lennon's first son, Julian Lennon, inherited his dad's drug problem, which has caused him much pain in his life.

Yoko broke up the band.

John Lennon was later murdered by a crazed fan.

After John was killed, his underage first born son Julian, was cut out of the bulk of his fortune by Yoko, who was then his wife. It was reported a year and a half ago that Julian was having financial difficulties. Yoko needs to give the guy more of his father's money. It doesn't look good. That was his flesh and blood.

George was attacked and stabbed in his own home by a stalker. He later died of unrelated causes.

Paul was arrested and jailed for a short time for drugs during his tenure in the band.

Paul's wife later died of cancer.

Legacy

Today, the Beatles have a lot of people in the picture still telling their story, to the point you have to wonder, just how close were they to the band and are they milking this thing for all it's worth.

And no, I'm not talking about the people who were on staff with the Beatles.

Some lived and continue to live vicariously through them. However, none can truly say they are them and represent them, but the band. It is the same for all musicians.

Britain's been very good at spitting out big selling bands. For further reference, one can cite the Bee Gees, who've sold over 120,000,000 records.

It's been estimated that the Beatles sold one billion albums and singles.

The Beatles legacy is now about their songs and the time period in which the band arrived - the turbulent 60's, which exemplified and emphasized their music.


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