BEHIND SAD EYES: The Life of George Harrison

Marc Shapiro, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-30109-5

Books that capitalize on the grisly interest spawned by the death of a "star" are usually inferior. Not so this biography of Harrison, universally famed as the "quiet" Beatle. Biographer Shapiro (J.K. Rowling, Carlos Santana) creates a complex portrait that shies from melodrama. For instance, Shapiro does not wring heroic sentiment from Harrison's working-class roots, as others have been so inclined. Instead, Shapiro focuses on the unusual level of support Harrison received from his parents, who encouraged their imaginative young son to make a serious go at the seemingly dead-end vocation of rock guitarist. Roughly one-third of the biography is devoted to Harrison's career as a Beatle. Rather than analyze the group (territory covered countless times), Shapiro uses well-chosen anecdotes to describe Harrison's role in the band. The musician's frustrations as an underappreciated writing talent and his disappointment in both work and private life emerge as major contributors to the band's demise. Though Harrison appeared to be passive, Shapiro notes that this humble exterior was often more form than substance. When the Beatles made the unpopular decision to fire drummer Pete Best, Harrison played dumb, though he was the one who pushed to fire Best. Shapiro writes, "In what would become his typical response to uncomfortable situations, he denied any involvement in the firing of [drummer] Pete Best," when he in fact pushed for the unpopular decision. One of the first biographies fully devoted to Harrison, this volume brings keen perspective to both his great contributions and bland failures. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/15/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-312-70614-2
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4299-8050-0
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-312-30993-0
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