Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band That Shook Youth, Gender, and the World

( 2 )


Here they are-John, Paul, George, Ringo-the band that inspired and changed popular culture forever. In this revealing and provocative new account, Steven D. Stark puts their impact into unique perspective by revealing both the personal details and the larger events that made them into the twentieth century's greatest cultural force.

"They were magic," said their producer George Martin, and most of us would agree. But the band has become so shrouded in cultural mythology that it is difficult today to really ...

See more details below
This Hardcover is Not Available through
Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band That Shook Youth, Gender, and the World

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99 price
Note: This is a bargain book and quantities are limited. Bargain books are new but may have slight markings from the publisher and/or stickers showing their discounted price. More about bargain books


Here they are-John, Paul, George, Ringo-the band that inspired and changed popular culture forever. In this revealing and provocative new account, Steven D. Stark puts their impact into unique perspective by revealing both the personal details and the larger events that made them into the twentieth century's greatest cultural force.

"They were magic," said their producer George Martin, and most of us would agree. But the band has become so shrouded in cultural mythology that it is difficult today to really understand how or why. This book explains that why-unpacking the legendary band's aura and examining the ways in which the Beatles' own lives were inextricably tied to the cultural, youth, and gender revolutions they helped create and lead during the 1960s.

Based on extensive research and more than a hundred new interviews, Meet the Beatles offers a compelling fresh interpretation of their story, beginning with their childhoods in England and the profound effect on their outlook and music caused by the deaths of Paul's and John's mothers when they were young. It documents their subsequent special bond with women-from their teenage fans to the mothers of their friends to close partners Linda and Yoko. It illustrates the central importance of drugs, both for them and the youthful counterculture they led; why their unusual hairstyles set off a cultural revolution; how the band came to create a new vision of the role of women; and the unique conditions that allowed these four to conquer America faster than any other cultural phenomenon in history. It explains why the group's popularity has never faded-even now, more than four decades after they first hit the charts.

From Liverpool and Hamburg to Ed Sullivan and Shea Stadium, it's all here-from the improbable decision to fire their original drummer and bring Ringo into the band to why they broke up and who was responsible. After reading Meet the Beatles, you'll never think about the Beatles or listen to their songs the same way again. Live the magic once more.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Joseph Rosen
An acclaimed pop culture commentator for NPR and CNN, Stark has produced a volume worthy of his subjects, treating the band with the seriousness that a phenomenon of its magnitude warrants. Thus highbrow literary allusions (Keats, Wordsworth, Paglia) find easy companionship alongside quotations from rock periodicals such as Mersey Beat and Crawdaddy. Stark also spent considerable time in Liverpool and conducted more than 100 interviews with figures ranging from Yoko Ono to screaming fans relegated to the upper tiers of Shea Stadium (both surviving Beatles declined to be interviewed).
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Journalist Stark wants to tell the story of John, Paul, George and Ringo in a "somewhat new way," focusing as much on the cultural trends that produced the Beatles-and the trends they created-as on the Fab Four themselves. He explores how the band's 1964 arrival in America coincided with both the adolescent explosion of the baby boomers and the cultural void left by Kennedy's assassination. He then backtracks to the Beatles' childhoods in Liverpool, a city with traditions of absent fathers, strong mothers and permissive attitudes toward androgyny-all major elements in the Beatles' music. Their moptop haircuts? A combination of "mild gender-bending" and German art college chic. Their trademark wit? Inspired by the Goon Show, a popular BBC radio program. Their long-term impact? Practically impossible to overestimate, as Stark finds their influence on '60s protest movements, drug culture, women's liberation and more. Stark provides a thorough biography of the band and includes bits of trivia, such as the band's 1960 gig playing backup to a stripper. Throughout, Stark is sharp and insightful, even when he wades into the psychoanalytic waters of the John/Yoko and Paul/Linda relationships. Photos. Agent, Nat Sobel. (June 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
With so many Beatles books published each year, it's refreshing when a title emerges that sheds new light on the Fab Four. National Public Radio commentator Stark (Glued to the Set) has written such a book, forgoing a regurgitation of well-documented facts and dates and focusing instead on the forces within and outside the group that helped it become an unmatched cultural phenomenon. Often glossing over details, Stark draws on a vast range of resource materials and includes well-selected quotes from scores of Beatles associates (surviving band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr declined to be interviewed) to set up and support his arguments in the book's first half. Of particular note here are his theories exploring the Beatles's role in the feminist movement and counterculture of the 1960s. For the second half, however, Stark relies too heavily on speculation and stacks his deck with overly selective quotes to support his spin on the Beatles's final years. But where most other books on the topic obsess over the whats, wheres, whens, and hows, Stark's work explores the whys, an avenue of approach that has been sorely lacking in the vast Beatles literature. The extensive source listing stands on its own as a more than adequate Beatles bibliography. Recommended for most collections.-Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Yet another scribe takes a run at the Fab Four's legend and comes up empty. "Why on earth would anyone need another book about the Beatles?" A very good question, posed without irony by National Public Radio commentator and author (Telemania, 1997, etc.) Stark at the outset of his ultimately pointless cultural history of the English quartet. The title-also the title of the Beatles' first American album-portends much, as if we're going to encounter the band for the first time. But Stark brings little that's fresh to the table and relies heavily on the work of such earlier, astute Beatles chroniclers as Hunter Davies, Philip Norman, Mark Lewisohn, Tim Riley and the late Ian MacDonald. The story is now so familiar that it virtually tells itself. Beginning with the Beatles' sensational arrival in the U.S. in February 1964, Stark slogs through the tale even casual readers will know by heart: Liverpool roots, Hamburg trial by fire, nurturing by manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin, worldwide fame and acclaim, and the flameout of utopian dreams in a bitter breakup. Stark, who displays an encyclopedic knowledge of the more engaged writers who have come before him, tries to dress things up by emphasizing certain aspects of the saga: the band's androgynous appeal, the role of women (fans, girlfriends, wives) in the group's image and success, the impact of Epstein's homosexuality and of the band members' drug use. But all those roads have in fact been traveled before, and the slim insights Stark provides in no way justify another trek down Penny Lane. The author lived in Liverpool for a spell and interviewed several dozen witnesses, but his original research likewise unearths nothingblazingly original. To quote the Fabs: "Dear sir or madam, will you read my book, it took me years to write, will you take a look?" No, thanks.
“Insightful . . . Stark embeds the band in ideas and movements”
Buffalo News
“A clear, new picture of the Beatles as pop-culture phenomenon. . . . thoughly entertaining and engaging”
Washington Post Book World
“A volume worthy of its subjects . . . thoughtful, provocative, and valuable”
Knoxville News-Sentinel
“[A] remarkably fresh perspective . . . Stark’s style, though scholarly, is incisive and altogether entertaining.”
Boston Globe Sunday Magazine
“At the forefront of a ‘new wave’ of Beatles studies”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641799327
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/31/2005
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven D. Stark is a writer and cultural commentator. He has been the popular culture analyst for National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday; a contributor to The World, a daily public radio show coproduced by WGBH and the BBC; and a commentator for CNN's Showbiz Today. The author of Glued to the Set and Writing to Win, he has written extensively for the Boston Globe, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Atlantic Monthly. He has been a Beatles fan since he was a boy and the Beatles first hit America on February 7, 1964.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The British are Coming! 9
2 Liverpool: Roots and Regrets 39
3 A Communal Gang of Artists 60
4 Astrio, Hamburg, and the Great Transformation 79
5 The Parental Outsiders: Mona and Brian 90
6 Reshuffling the Band with Humor 105
7 First Rumblings of a Gender Revolution 122
8 Engraved Upon the Heart of Its Nation 138
9 Here, There, and Everywhere in 1964 148
10 Hair, Drugs, and Roch and Roll 170
11 Sgt. Pepper's Cosmic Counterculture 195
12 Out of Sync 211
13 Love is All You Need 227
14 Growing Older, Losing Faith 251
Postscript 268
Sources 275
Acknowledgments 329
Index 331
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Meet the Beatles
A Cultural History of the Band That Shook Youth, Gender, and the World

Chapter One

The British Are Coming!

In the beginning there was the scream.

It was high-pitched, wailing, the sound of pigs being slaughtered, only louder. So me in England compared it to the air raid sirens that had been so prevalent during the war only two decades before. Oddly, it was both joyous and hysterical; it could be heard sometimes over a mile away. It was continuous, yet punctuated by crescendos. Its decibel level was so high that it broke the equipment measuring it, and the next day, some found their ears still continued to ring.

"I've never heard a sound so painful to the ear," one observer at the time said. "Loud and shrill. It was like standing next to a jet engine. It physically hurt."

Of course, years earlier there had been stories about the girls who shouted for Sinatra and then for Elvis. But this screaming was different -- the beginning of a new era, an expression of cultural change.

"We screamed because it was a kick against anything old-fashioned," remembered Lynne Harris, a fan of the Beatles at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where they were essentially the house band in the early sixties. "They represented what we could do with our lives."

"It seemed to me a definite line was being drawn," said Bob Dylan. "This was something that never happened before."

At first, the screams were triggered whenever the Beatles played their music, especially when they sang falsetto together and shook their long hair; the screaming was a kind of similar answer to the high tones the girls were hearing. Soon, however, it grew to encompass anything connected to the group -- their impending arrival at a hotel or airport, their appearance on a movie screen. Without it, at least initially, the group might well have been seen as just another flash in the pan. It became so much a part of the trademark of the Beatles that when the band produced its own Anthology history series in the 1990s, the episodes began with just the screams and everyone knew exactly what they were, what they were for, and what they referenced. Years later, Neil Aspinall, their confidant and roadie, would say of their tours, "It was just a permanent scream."

"You literally had to hold on to your seat," said Marcy Lanza, a fan at the time." The noise was so loud that everything swayed and vibrated."

It drove some in the inner circle a bit crazy. "Shurrup!" John Lennon, all of twenty-three in 1964, would yell at the top of his lungs in response, but no one could hear him. George Harrison, then only twenty, was the first Beatle to begin to succumb to the pressure of the constant screaming mobs."He was a dedicated musician, and he would spend his time in the dressing room tuning everyone's instruments," remembered Tony Barrow, their press agent. "And then they went on stage and no one could hear and it didn't matter what they did. His personality changed; he became a less tolerant person -- snappish. H e couldn't come to terms with it at all."

But that would come the following year. On February 7, 1964, George was still happy at the sight of more than a thousand screaming British fans at Heathrow Airport outside London to see the Beatles off on Pan Am Flight 101 for New York at 11:00 a.m. The screams were so loud that some in the Beatles' party initially mistook the sound for jet engines. Unbeknownst to the group, the band's arrival at the newly renamed Kennedy Airport eight hours later was already being announced nonstop on the airwaves to a shivering New York beginning to awaken to a gray day. "It is now six thirty a.m. Beatles time," the DJ on WMCA said." They left London thirty minutes ago. They're out over the Atlantic Ocean, headed for New York. The temperature is thirty-two Beatle degrees."

The group was already the biggest entertainment phenomenon Britain had ever known. The British knew all about the reaction the Beatles engendered in their listeners, which had started unexpectedly at a dance outside of Liverpool in Litherland at the end of 1960 and had eventually come to cover the whole of their island three years later. In the past year, the Beatles had sold more records in Britain than anyone ever, with four number 1 singles -- "Please Please Me," "From Me to You," "She Loves You," and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" -- and two hit albums. They had been the stars of their own thirteen-week series on BBC radio -- Pop Go the Beatles -- and in 1963 they had already toured their own country four times, playing to sellout, clamoring audiences everywhere.

In October 1963, the group had headlined on TV's Val Parnell's Sunday Night at the London Palladium -- England's version of The Ed Sullivan Show -- and the riotous fans outside had prompted one tabloid wag to label the new phenomenon "Beatlemania." Three weeks later, they were the stars of the prestigious Royal Command Performance in London, where John Lennon had delighted the upper-class audience and members of the royal family by announcing, "For our last number, I'd like to ask for your help. Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry?" By the end of the year, they dominated their nation's airwaves, newspapers, and conversations. One British newspaper announced that the name of the Beatles was "engraved upon the heart of the nation."

But that was Great Britain, which in 1963 was in a different universe as far as the United States and the world entertainment market were concerned. And the Beatles knew it too. Rock and roll was virtually the exclusive province of American musicians, and no English rock act had ever come close to "making it" in the States ...

Meet the Beatles
A Cultural History of the Band That Shook Youth, Gender, and the World
. Copyright © by Steven Stark. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)