Paul McCartney: The Biography by Philip Norman

Review published on June 25, 2017.

When I first saw this book I thought, oh no, yet another book about a member of the former Beatles, this time Paul McCartney. I knew another  book had been published recently, but I thought I might take a punt on this particular biography anyway. I am so glad I did, now that I have finished the 800-plus page paperback. People of a certain age will remember the Beatles, the fame, the acrimonious breakup, the dissolving of their Apple business, and their solo careers. I have followed the various revelations over the years, as many have done, but this particular book is a real, decently written expose on Sir Paul McCartney alone. It details, with astonishing clarity, all the ‘nitty gritty’ that has pursued him throughout his many years as a musician.

I guess most biographies should expose the subject person to close, revealing scrutiny, and this book does this is brilliantly. The author, Philip Norman, once met Paul in December 1965, backstage in Newcastle-on-Tyne. This meeting, albeit brief, coloured Philip’s image of the man. Their lives continued, separated by their chosen careers until 2012, when an email to McCartney’s PR person produced a yes to writing this complete, in depth, biography.

I was amazed at the details written about various formerly unknown girlfriends, escaping crowds, drugs, Japanese imprisonment, his own relationships with the other three Beatles, the death of Brian Epstein, his first marriage to Linda Eastman, her subsequent death, his reincarnation with the band ‘Wings’, his children and their lives, his properties, his art collection, his second marriage to Heather Mills, and the messy divorce, his third marriage, and so on, all detailed with astonishing complexity.

The man is now into his seventies, but shows no sign of retiring. I guess after reading this book I can better understand his lifestyle and the way he ticks. There cannot be many places he has not performed at and it is truly unbelievable how he keeps going. There are visible signs of aging naturally, but life seems to be on the up all the time for him these days.

He is not my particular favourite Beatle, in fact not my favourite musician by any stretch of the imagination, but, from a nostalgic standpoint, one cannot fault his concert material and the professional way he does his touring. So, good luck to the man, he entertains superbly well, always a sell out at concerts, and seemingly fresh material every time.

A very good biography indeed, a shame that many biographies are not so ‘in depth’ as this one, but that is writing for you. I really do recommend this book to music lovers of that certain age. That comes across when one watches a film clip of him performing at the White House, Obama, the President leans over to explain the comments about doing a song called ‘Michelle’ to his children, who do not know anything about this icon at all, excellent how he continuously spans so many generations.

Reg Seward 5/3

Paul McCartney: The Biography by Philip Norman
W&N 9781780226408 pbk May 2017


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