About the book

What if I Don’t Know Anything About the Beatles?

The Beatles with a question mark over themThis is a question I’ve gotten a few times from friends who, for some reason, just haven’t listened to the Beatles that much. They wonder whether they’d understand enough about what’s going on, whether they would get the inside nuances that only Beatle fans might understand.

Granted, you get more out of the book the bigger the fan you are. You understand all the solo songs that might go on a future Beatles album, and you recognize the bit players in the Beatles’ history. But for the rest of you, not to worry. This book is mainly about Mal Evans and the journey he takes throughout the 1970s. And very little is known about Evans.

I have taken great care into trying to describe each song, putting it and each event into its proper context, and giving even non-fans an idea about how all the songs might fit together. I include sections at the end that explain what really happened during the 1970s, and how you can create your own fantasy Beatles albums by splicing together solo album cuts from the four. I also explain why each song made it onto the fantasy albums. If you don’t know who Geoff Emerick is (He was the Beatles’ sound engineer), I tell you.

As Jim Bartlett said, the book moves at a quick pace, and you’ll find yourself wrapped up in the story without wondering what the song “Isolation” really sounds like. Of course, if you’re interested, you can always buy the solo albums or listen to it on Spotify to get a real feel for what’s happening. That’s what I recommend. The Beatles’ journey was one thing. The unplanned journey through the 1970s is a bumpy ride, but it’s full of surprises and beautiful music.

Why I Wrote ‘The Death and Life of Mal Evans’

For years, the story of the Beatles’ breakup has bothered me.

It seemed so…unnecessary, so incomplete. They had just finished what was arguably their best album, Abbey Road, and judging from their first solo works after the Beatles, they were still at or near their creative peak. So why did it have to happen? And more importantly, what would have happened if they had put aside their arguing and continued to record albums?

That was where I started with my book. Some 10 years ago, before Facebook, Twitter and Reddit created a forum for people with similar interests to talk and chat, there were newsgroups – discussion boards on hundreds of topics. (Anyone remember them?) And I found in the newsgroup rec.music.beatles that there were many people who asked the same question I did: What if? What if they had stayed together? What would the next Beatles album have sounded like? Members debated incessantly on the inclusion of a certain song, giving their reasons why it would or wouldn’t have made a good Beatles cut. These were diehard fans.

Like other members of the newsgroup, I made my own fantasy Beatles albums, tweaked them, and while I listened to the fictional masterpieces, I wondered how the four would have gotten along during the 1970s, how they all would have stayed together given the cracks that were showing in the group in 1969.

About that same time, I discovered the tragic figure of Mal Evans – a man who gave his heart and soul to the Beatles, only to see his life crumble without them during the 1970s. He, more than anyone, I thought, would have asked that question that we all wondered in the newsgroup.

I wanted to give Mal a second chance to relive the 1970s with his group. I wanted to hear new Beatles albums full of the four’s best solo songs, a majestic collection of music. And most of all, I wanted to see what happened to the four members as they lived through this alternate reality.

Yes, this book is a novel. It’s pure fiction, a dream within a work of fiction, the ultimate “What if?” Some things remain true to what really happened (I didn’t make John and Paul a comedy team, or Ringo an astronaut). But the important thing to remember is that the Beatles remain together after 1970. This book allows us to pretend for just a little longer that the world’s greatest band made more wonderful music for us, for Mal, and for themselves.