The Rough Guide to the Beatles

Got the opportunity to wander through a second-hand bookshop in Sydney (Australia) the other day, and what should I see sitting all on it’s lonesome on a shelf? A little book called “The Rough Guide to the Beatles”.

The “Rough Guides” book series cover a wide range of topics, starting with travel and then extending out into all sorts of reference book territory, from The Rough Guide to Android, through to World Music and everything in-between. Of course if they wanted to be serious about covering music they had to have a guide to the most influential musical group of the twentieth century: The Beatles.

The other good thing about the book I found this week in the second hand shop was its price sticker of just A$7.95. Even with the very favourable exchange rate we have here at the moment that translates to just US$8.25 – very good buying in anyone’s language or currency. And its a great little find content-wise. Author Chris Ingham (who has also written books about Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and Metalica, along with countless articles about music and interviews with musicians) has done an excellent job of pulling together the story and the essential facts around the Beatles, their music and the main players in their world. The Rough Guide adds in lots of other incidental information about the band and their recordings which makes it great reading – even for a devoted Beatles fan.

The First Edition (2003) looks like this:

My copy (2nd Edition – 2006) looks like this:

It also comes out with this picture of the band on the cover (3rd Edition with expanded content) as well:

If you’d like a bit of a look inside you can see about 17 pages or so (plus the Index) here.

The Rough Guide to the Beatles has sections on the post-Beatles Beatles (or as Ingham calls it “Being and ex-Beatle”); their movies, promos, cartoons and biopics; the 50 essential songs you have to have (“The Canon”); and a great little chapter called “Beatleology” containing a range of trivia and oddball information. It’s a book you can dip into and learn something new. Well worth it if you can track down a copy for yourself.

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