May 30, 1983 12:00 PM

by Peter Brown and Stephen Gaines

Fabulous, revolting and depressing by turns, this “inside” story of the Beatles is hard to ignore, ranking in breadth if not malodorous spirit with Albert Goldman’s Elvis. Brown first worked as Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s assistant, then in 1967, after Epstein’s death from a drug overdose, replaced him; he ultimately did everything from directing the group’s disastrous Apple Corporation to being John Lennon’s best man at his wedding to Yoko Ono. (Gaines is a free-lancer specializing in pop culture.) Epstein dominates the first half of the book, which is a Gothic tale of drugs, sex, music, greed, booze and genius. A soft-fleshed dandy from one of Liverpool’s wealthiest Jewish families, Epstein adored his mother, Queenie. Outside his family, he sought love in public toilets and dark parks; Epstein was a homosexual who craved the rough trade. More than once he disappeared from the tour for days—then turned up with a shiner, mumbling about “that damn closet door.” It was Epstein’s promotion that hurled the group into the pop stratosphere. He was motivated by a general crush on all of “the boys,” but his passion crystallized for the bitingly funny, rebellious Lennon, with whom Brown contends he had a brief physical affair at the beginning of their association (Lennon’s only recorded gay experience). In one of the few kind gestures of Lennon’s life, according to Brown and Gaines, Lennon sent Epstein a massive flower bouquet and a note, “I love you, I really do…” after Epstein’s first suicide attempt. In the massive tome’s close to 450 pages, The Love You Make reveals what unlovely lives the Beatles really led. Gulping speed, sucking down Scotch, keeping dozens of groupies in various hotel rooms for indiscreet pleasure, the Beatles resemble far more the Rolling Stones than the fresh-faced youngsters the press has always rhapsodized about. Brown tells of Lennon’s long-term heroin addiction, Harrison’s pathetic search for contentment through Eastern religions and, in one tawdry tidbit, George’s alleged seduction of Ringo’s first wife. The most upbeat and resilient of the Beatles, McCartney, is treated the most contemptuously. Brown portrays Paul as a sanctimonious hypocrite who looked out for himself and provoked the ultimate legal dissolution of the Beatles. On the other hand, his marriage to Linda Eastman is amusingly recounted: A wealthy New York rock photographer, she pursued the Beatle with a charming transatlantic ferocity and succeeded very nicely, even though she once came upon him, premarriage, in a hotel bungalow with not one but two ladies. The Love You Make is about an entire generation’s loss of innocence—the Beatles lost theirs long ago, and their fans, at least those who believe Brown and Gaines’ version of events—can lose theirs now. (McGraw-Hill, $14.95)

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