Books: Mean Mr. Lennon

Do you want to know a secret? The Beatles weren't nice guys, says a biography. Ringo, you're excused

The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein was gay, wealthy and chronically insecure. That may be why, while recording Magical Mystery Tour in 1967, John Lennon deliberately mangled a couple of choruses. According to Bob Spitz's colossal quadruple biography The Beatles (Little, Brown; 983 pages), instead of singing, "Baby, you're a rich man too," Lennon sang, "Baby, you're a rich fag Jew."

That kind of gratuitous cruelty isn't all that uncommon in The Beatles. The Fab Four hated the silly, lovable mop-top image they created, and on that score alone they would probably love Spitz's book. He marshals a staggering mass of research...

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