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A riveting look at the transformative year in the lives and careers of the legendary group whose groundbreaking legacy would forever change music and popular culture.
They started off as hysteria-inducing pop stars playing to audiences of screaming teenage fans and ended up as musical sages considered responsible for ushering in a new era.
The year that changed everything for the Beatles was 1966—the year of their last concert and their first album, Revolver, that was created to be listened to rather than performed. This was the year the Beatles risked their popularity by retiring from live performances, recording songs that explored alternative states of consciousness, experimenting with avant-garde ideas, and speaking their minds on issues of politics, war, and religion. It was the year their records were burned in America after John’s explosive claim that the group was "more popular than Jesus," the year they were hounded out of the Philippines for "snubbing" its First Lady, the year John met Yoko Ono, and the year Paul conceived the idea for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
On the fiftieth anniversary of this seminal year, music journalist and Beatles expert Steve Turner slows down the action to investigate in detail the enormous changes that took place in the Beatles’ lives and work during 1966. He looks at the historical events that had an impact on the group, the music they made that in turn profoundly affected the culture around them, and the vision that allowed four young men from Liverpool to transform popular music and serve as pioneers for artists from Coldplay to David Bowie, Jay-Z to U2.
By talking to those close to the group and by drawing on his past interviews with key figures such as George Martin, Timothy Leary, and Ravi Shankar—and the Beatles themselves—Turner gives us the compelling, definitive account of the twelve months that contained everything the Beatles had been and anticipated everything they would still become.
Fifty years ago, in 1966, the Beatles did something that would forever change the way recording artists approach their work: they decided to quit touring and devote their creative energies to pushing musical and technical boundaries in the studio. In this detailed look at that pivotal year, music journalist Turner (The Beatles: The Stories Behind the Songs, 1962 1966) chronicles the personal and artistic struggles of the Beatles as they transitioned from a pop group playing to throngs of screaming teenage girls to four young men wrestling with their individual artistic impulses and personal growth. The summer tour of 1966 finally pushed the band to quit the road and hit the studio. The band was arguably hitting its creative peak, breaking new if risky musical ground. When John Lennon played "Tomorrow Never Knows" for Bob Dylan, Dylan famously replied: "Oh, I get it. You don't want to be cute any more." "Paperback Writer," "Taxman," and "Strawberry Fields" were a far cry from "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." And after years of being locked up in hotel rooms, the Beatles happily pursued cultural interests and experimenting with drugs. Going month by month, Turner aims to "slow things down" and at times, the book moves a bit too slowly. Pacing aside, Turner succeeds in creating an illuminating portrait of the Beatles, both as a band and as individual artists.