Living the Beatles Legend by Kenneth Womack review – a long and winding roadie’s tale

Tout sur les Beatles

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He saved them from a car crash, snuck them drugs and inspired Let It Be… The detailed story of the Fab Four’s driver, bodyguard and confidant Mal Evans captures Beatlemania up close

In his book One Two Three Four, Craig Brown detailed the ways that the Beatles fleetingly touched and altered millions of lives. In that account, one figure occasionally steps out of the shadows: Mal Evans, bouncer at the Cavern Club, driver and bodyguard as the band travelled first down the newly tarmac-ed M6 and then way beyond. Evans was both a trusted insider to those helter-skelter years and, in some ways, the ultimate Beatles groupie. In this exhaustively detailed account of his truncated life – Evans died aged 40 in 1976 in a volley of gunfire from the LAPD after he had apparently waved a Winchester rifle in their direction seeking his own destruction – he finally assumes the place to which all walk-on actors privately aspire: centre stage.

The book has been a long time coming. At the time of his death, Evans had a publishing contract to tell the story of his life, based on diaries and notes of his time on the road. He left a draft of his memoir but that was blocked from publication by his widow, Lily. The archive and the manuscript were saved from the garbage by an alert temp at the publisher, who with the help of Yoko Ono saw that the material was returned to the family. Finally in 2020, Evans’s son, Gary, who had been 14 when his father died, commissioned the musicologist and Beatles obsessive Ken Womack to tell the full story.

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