“All You Need Is Love”: The Beatles In Their Own Words

Beatles Rubber Soul

Let’s face it: arcane Beatles lore is the gift that keeps on giving. They broke up well over a half-century ago, yet there are still stories to tell. From their gritty beginnings to their final flame-out, members of their inner circle have left still more fresh-to-the-market interviews that make for compelling reading. And they’ve been curated by a sanctioned source.

Co-authored by music journalist Steven Gaines and Peter Brown (long-time Beatles manager and alluded to in “The Ballad of John and Yoko”) have collaborated again after their 1983 international best-seller The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of The Beatles.

Their new release is All You Need Is Love: The Beatles In Their Own Words. It augments their first book through hundreds of hours of unreleased recordings. Dozens of Beatles intimates were interviewed, offering stunning stories and bittersweet wit.

The timeframe for these oral histories slightly pre-dates John Lennon’s tragic 1980 murder, so the context should be viewed through that lens. They are filled with revelations.

  • George Harrison, “The Quiet Beatle,” discourses on his spiritual path and then takes a hard right into a harangue around the band’s break-up.
  • Agent David Puttnam subtly eviscerates Linda McCartney.
  • Paul McCartney drops his usual diplomatic game face on many topics, including a screed on the band’s wild promiscuity during their heyday, something always underplayed in the press.
  • Alexis Mardas, aka “Magic Alex,” an infamous intimate of John Lennon, colorfully takes down one-time Beatle guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, along with Paul’s beloved wife Linda and others.
  • Author Peter Brown gives a lovely account of “Hey, Jude,” from its inception until it hit the airwaves and began its ascent towards the status of fan favorite.
  • Revered art dealer Robert Fraser gives a fascinating account of Yoko Ono’s pre-John days as a puzzling performance artist.

All You Need Is Love also serves up painful stories from some beleaguered Beatles women. John Lennon’s first wife Cynthia provides a melancholy, account of her divorce from John, once she discovered Yoko Ono living with him under her roof. Yoko then speaks at length about her side of the story which remains intellectualized, but an account worth reading.

May Pang, Lennon’s Ono-endorsed girlfriend for the 18-month “Lost Weekend”, speaks her piece in an earthy, likable manner; an interview with Ringo’s first wife Maureen provides moving confessions of their life together.

The last interview is given to Ringo and is a delightful piece of witty straight-shooting totally in character with his public persona.

All You Need Is Love is a must-read for any Beatles fan; authors Gaines and Brown masterfully deliver these fresh snapshots of history through clever questioning and historical context. The fact that the majority of interviewees are no longer living brings increased poignance to these stories.

-Ellen Fagan

Photo: Getty Images


Ellen Fagan is a forever New Yorker, long-time Greenwich Village resident and vintage Duke University graduate with hippie-esque leanings. The best description of Ellen was given to her by a sardonic lawyer during the voir dire of one of her myriad Jury Duty stints: "...housewife, mom, voracious reader, freelance writer, copy editor, jewelry designer and frequent cyber-sleuth."

3 comments on ““All You Need Is Love”: The Beatles In Their Own Words

  1. Barry Baddams

    Peter Brown’s 1963 book The Love You Make was atrocious, which doesn’t augur well for this latest publication.

  2. Topazthecat

    I know that meant 1983, but also John Lennon sadly isn’t here and sadly we know why to defend himself.

    And there are interviews with Paul and George in the 1980’s and after where they say they loved John and Paul said in a great hour long August 1986 Entertainment Tonight interview that’s online, that long after John died Yoko called him and told him that John really loved him and that Yoko and John cried somewhat while listening to one of Paul’s albums.

    Also there is a very good 1987 TV YouTube interview with George Harrison and the interviewer said John wasn’t an angel and George said that he wasn’t but he was and the she said yeah and he said yes.

    She also asked him about John’s dearth and he said it’s like loosing your parents or anyone that you love.

    But of course all of this great important information is conveniently left out of books like this because sensationalism and falsehoods and extreme exaggerations are what sell the most books.

  3. Barry Baddams

    You can read every article and book and listen to every interview but unless you knew the man himself, you’ll only ever have the published versions of the truth.

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