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Publisher's Summary

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 of Revolver, their first album 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. 

Music journalist and Beatles expert Steve Turner investigates 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 12 months that contained everything the Beatles had been and anticipated everything they would still become. 

©2016 Steve Turner (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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New information on a pivotal year in Beatles music

Steve Turner has accomplished a feat. He has written a book about the most documented music group in history and still come up with fresh information and interpretations.

Turner does this by narrowing his focus to 1966. The Beatles were coming off Rubber Soul, where John was trying out a new style of Dylan lyric writing (Norwegian Wood) and the Beatles were getting more experimental in the studio.

This was the year the Beatles put together what some consider their best album, Revolver.

The book examines the Beatles' decision to stop touring and focus on recording. So there's a lot about John's Jesus remarks and the subsequent Beatles record burnings in the American South. The bloom was off the lovable Mop Tops and the s@#$ was hitting the fan.

There's a recounting of the group's tour dates in Japan--where they were criticized for appearing at the Budokan--and the comic misunderstanding in the Philippines that led to a potentially dangerous feud between the group and Imelda Marcos.

Beatles '66 obviously looks at the recording of Revolver and how the songs represent an evolution in their songwriting and studio process.

Simon Vance does an excellent job as narrator, getting down the different speech patterns of John, Paul, George and Ringo. He doesn't try to imitate but you always know which Beatle is speaking.


Other Audible titles you might enjoy:

Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin: The Early Years, 1926-1966 by Kenneth Womack. My one gripe with this book is the American narrator. Who made that decision?


Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day by Joel Selvin. Like Beatles '66, this music history has a narrow focus, the infamous Altamont concert headlined by the Rolling Stones. The book tells the story from the point of view of audience members, music critics who were there, performers, the Hell's Angels and the young man who was killed and his girlfriend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great listen

What a treat - my favorite group and my favorite narrator, together at last!

Steve Turner’s book focuses on a single year in the Beatles’ career: 1966, when they recorded the album “Revolver” - one that many people feel was a more significant innovation than “Sgt Pepper.” It’s the album of Eleanor Rigby and Taxman: the album of floating downstream with the help of Indian music and psychelic drugs and a doctor who hands out amphetamines like candy. It was the album where the Beatles made a full-time commitment to developing songs in the studio rather than on the road.

1966 was also the year of touring - Japan, the Philippines, Shea Stadium, Candlestick Park - when the Beatles discovered that large numbers of people not only disliked them but actively wished them harm. The Philippines were especially scary: they were seen as having insulted Imelda Marcos, and had to make their way to the airport without the customary police escort. The US provided its own backdrop of threats: this was the year when John’s comment about Jesus led to bonfires that burned Beatles records and memorabilia, and the United Klans of America picketed their concerts. They were threatened with assassination on stage.

And it was the year when Yoko Ono first appeared in the Beatles’ orbit. She and John Lennon locked eyes at an exhibition of her work and instantly realized that they “got” each other.

The actual recording of Revolver takes up most of April and May. By the end of the year, they have recorded Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, and Paul is mapping out his concept for Sgt Pepper. But the music is only part of the story. Turner quotes generously from the interviews each Beatle had with Maureen Cleave. And he quotes from his own interviews: he was there, and he talked to many of the principals like George Martin. Each Beatle appears in this narrative as an individual, someone with a life that existed independently of their participation in the group. Although John and Paul dominate the narrative, George and Ringo are for once given their due as more than sidemen; George’s growing interest in Indian culture and religion is given particular attention.

I think the book will be interesting and entertaining even for people who have only a cursory knowledge of the Beatles. It helps to know who Brian Epstein and George Martin are, and the roles they played in the Beatles’ evolution. But it isn’t necessary to have read Philip Norman or Mark Lewisohn to appreciate Turner’s detailed account of this important stage in their career.

While much of the information is already known to Beatles fans, there were some surprises, at least for me. I had never heard of the singer Alma Cogan before, but it appears that she and John had a significant relationship, and he was devastated by her death in late 1966.

Simon Vance can do a hundred different voices without batting an eye, which makes him an especially appealing narrator of fiction. For nonfiction books like this, his approach is more subtle. He doesn’t try to imitate the voices of the Beatles directly, but by slight variations in tone and rhythm,he captures the distinctive speech patterns of each.

Great listen. Highly recommended.

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It Was A Very Good Year

Very detailed look at the influences and development of many of their songs and their lives, all within one pivotal year. They had a heavy influence on me as I followed them from the first time I heard “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on Detroit’s WXYZ in December 1963. Still recovering from Kennedy’s assassination just a month earlier, the Beatles was the breath of fresh air and optimism we needed. They were the reason I learned to play the guitar and the reason I have a ‘67 Rickenbacker similar to George’s. Unfortunately I was not able to go to either of their concerts here in Detroit but I followed them to present day. “The Beatles 1966” is a must read/listen for all hard core fans for a more in depth look at the story behind song development, lyric choices, and personal development of the greatest band that changed music forever.

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1966 was a pivotal year for The Beatles

Just when you thought you knew all about the Beatles along comes “Beatles 66.” It’s astounding how one year in the life of this extraordinary group of musicians helped shape its past, present and future. It’s as if the world revolved around the Beatles that year.  History was made and was visited upon John, Paul, George and Ringo. Simon Vance did a terrific narration, especially when reading lines from each Beatle. I could hear each one speaking in that Liverpool manner. This audiobook is certainly a fantastic ticket to ride.