KENNETH WOMACK – LIVING THE BEATLES LEGEND: THE UNTOLD STORY OF MAL EVANS
BOOK REVIEW BY AARON BADGLEY
Kenneth Womack is one of the world’s leading authorities on The Beatles. He has written several books (Long And Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry Of The Beatles, John Lennon 1980 – The Last Days In The Life to name just two) as well as two brilliant books about Sir George Martin. His new book, Living The Beatles Legend: The Untold Story Of Mal Evans is a very unique book, in that he has written the biography of Beatles roadie and assistant Malcom (Mal) Evans. Evans kept very detailed diaries and journals, and even went so far as to writing a book in the mid-1970s, just prior to his unfortunate death. That manuscript not only was never published but it disappeared. The story of how these journals and manuscript found their way to Womack is incredible enough to warrant its own book, but for Living The Beatles Legend: The Untold Story Of Mal Evans Womack writes about Evans.
While this is a book about The Beatles, and their solo careers after their split, it is ultimately a book about a man who wanted to be in the limelight and got as close as he could by working with The Beatles. But Evans was also their friend and confidant. And as he was part of their tight inner circle, he was there for the long run. Evans lived through, and experienced Beatlemania, the post touring years and is even seen striking an anvil during “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” during the Get Back/Let It Be movie.
Womack is a brilliant writer, and he tells Evans’ story by using portions of the manuscript Evans had written and his journal entries. He also interviewed a great many people who offered their stories about Evans, including his widow and son. It makes for captivating reading and is nearly impossible to put down. It is a long book, but it is so jammed with facts and stories that it almost forces you to keep reading and turning the pages. Everything from meeting Bob Dylan to his Elvis Presley obsession, to helping with lyrics paints a picture of a man who was very loyal to his friends.
Living The Beatles Legend: The Untold Story Of Mal Evans is also a tragedy. Evans’ death is heartbreaking as are his struggles in the 1970s. But again, The Beatles tried to help Evans. Ringo Starr co-wrote a song with Evans (“For You And Me (Babe)”) for his classic and very successful album, Ringo, and George Harrison tries very hard to help Evans, but it is clearly not enough. Evans had his own demons and issues that existed before he met The Beatles, and the sudden fame and lack of fame played into those problems all too well. Womack handles it beautifully and writes very sympathetically and beautifully.
Living The Beatles Legend: The Untold Story Of Mal Evans is a great book. It adds a great deal to the library of Beatles books, and once again, as he did with his two volumes on George Martin, Womack has found a piece of Beatle history that has been a mystery for years. Beatle fans will, of course, love this book, but others will find the details and history absolutely fascinating. Womack is able to paint a picture of different times and the changes over the years while telling this story. Living The Beatles Legend: The Untold Story Of Mal Evans is an outstanding book.