This is about the tenth book about The Beatles I’ve reviewed, and I think it’s fair to say at this point that admittedly, I’m no book critic. I have no journalism background, I’m not (yet) published and as far as a writing skills go, I’m adequate at best. I just love devouring books about The Beatles, and this one was no different.
Tony Bramwell’s ‘book’ is more of a personal memoir than anything else, and although a bit gossipy (which Bramwell likely wouldn’t deny), it is a delightful read of the adventures of a man who knew The Beatles – John, George, Paul and Ringo – both personally, and then professionally. He was one of The Beatles ‘inner circle’. For me, there were a few reveals in this book I hadn’t been privy to previously in my Beatles Journey, which made it all the more enlightening. I won’t spoil the whole thing, but I will say I learned about a phony phone call made by Bramwell that was quite controversial, how ‘Tone’ was the driving force behind Paul McCartney’s contribution to a James Bond film, and some dirt on Pete Best -The Beatles original drummer’s mother (who doesn’t love mom gossip?). Otherwise, nothing was over dramatized, and Bramwell’s facts jelled with pretty much every other resource I’ve encountered.
Sprinkled between recollections of The Beatles, Magical Mystery Tours is chock full of many other musical adventures and experiences that Tony Bramwell had as what I would call an everything man, starting out as Brian Epstein’s go-to guy, he wore virtually every hat working for The Beatles, NEMS, and later Apple Records (as well as multiple other divisions). Along the way, he spent time with a virtual who’s who of the Rock n Roll world including The Who, The Rolling Stones, Wings and the infamous Colonel Tom Parker and Phil Spector, as well as several well known 80s artists and, most notably to me, Eva Cassidy.
Bramwell’s loyalty to and love for Brian Epstein – the original manager of The Beatles – was unwavering, and although I felt he was objective in his recollections, there is no questioning his loyalty to ‘Eppy’. In contrast, the author holds nothing back regarding his feelings for Yoko Ono, who he refers to as ‘The Princess of Darkness’, and outright blames for brainwashing John Lennon, while later pondering if he could have made a difference had he intervened at any point… or if any of them had. Although I’m no stranger to the anti-Yoko set, this was the first I’ve read of an inner circle person outright bashing her. Unsurprisingly, he also bashed the nefarious Beatle villain Allen Klein, the money-grubbing second manager who likely had a legitimate hand in driving the stake into the heart of The Beatles.
As to what Tony Bramwell’s actual title was I’m still uncertain. Part gopher, part A&R man, part publicist, part filmmaker, but as I said before, Tony Bramwell was a bit of an everything man, and was connected enough in the industry to get just about any job done. Moreover, I liked the book, and subsequently the author. Bravo Mr. Bramwell.
For other thoughts and suggested reading on The Beatles, click here