Neil Nixon talks Beatles: Myth and Legends with BBC Radio Merseyside’s Billy Butler, one of the 12 radio interviews delivered in this radio PR campaign which reached 2.9 million listeners.
Men of Mystery – Liverpool’s Fab Four split almost half a century ago, but the myths and legends surrounding the band still create intrigue.
They’ve sold 1.6 billion albums worldwide, spent 174 weeks at number one in the UK charts and were the rock and roll icons of a generation.
You might think that everything that could have been said about the legendary Beatles had been said, every tale told and every myth explored.
But author and college lecturer Neil Nixon has turned up some surprises and stories never before revealed in print in his twenty-fifth published work, Beatles: Myths and Legends.
“This book has taken decades to research and write and lifts the lid on some stunning stories which have never been told in the thousands of Beatles books out there,” said Neil.
“As an author, I spend many hours researching and writing and am not easily surprised, but writing this book I have found myself exclaiming with surprise at some of what I’ve discovered, including the story that George Harrison was replaced by an imposter, making every Harrison album from 1974 onwards a fake, and the strange reason Ringo was subject to an assassination threat 1964.”
The book also includes a bizarre Beatles top ten – bizarre because it features tracks Liverpool’s most famous sons were believed to have performed on but didn’t… One of the ten tracks – “Have you Heard the Word” by The Fut – even fooled Yoko Ono to the point she copyrighted it as the work of her dead husband.
Neil’s trawling of strange and obscure facts has also unearthed the true identity of a singer who – legend has it – replaced Paul McCartney when the real Beatle died in a road accident in 1967. It wasn’t true of-course. Or was it?
“This guy – William Campbell Shears – even has his own Facebook page and website now. Paul McCartney, of course, never died but some people out there believe he was replaced by a man with an uncanny resemblance to McCartney, who could sing like the star and even had his flair for writing million selling songs. It’s hard to believe that this particular myth once had so much traction that the fanzine, Beatles Monthly, was forced to issue a denial that Paul had died. Thankfully, almost fifty years on, he is still going strong and delighting his fans.”
Author Neil Nixon was surprised at what his research uncovered.
It also contains separate chapters on John, Paul, George and Ringo, with the final chapter dedicated to a strange collection of recordings that convinced some people the band had continued to record under assumed names for almost a decade after they split up.
But the biggest unanswered question on the lips of most Beatles fans is who really killed John Lennon? Does Neil’s book give the answer? The author is tight-lipped:
“It’s a subject I explore in the chapter on John. It certainly presents new theories, including an utterly bizarre theory that Lennon himself was complicit in his early death, but whether it answers the question or not is for the reader to judge.”
Beatles: Myths and Legends is published by Gonzo Multimedia, priced at £9.99. And there’s more about Neil on his website, neilnixon.com.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A music journalist, and known for years of comedy writing for publications like Viz comic, Neil Nixon is also a former scriptwriter for the glove puppet Sooty. Often called upon by the media as an expert talking head on subjects as diverse as popular music and the paranormal, he was nominated for a Sony Radio Academy Award for his radio play Mr Lennon – about the Beatle John – and also presents his own weekly obscure music radio show called ‘Strange Fruit’, which is …strange!
Beatles: Myths and Legends is his twenty-fifth published work. His other books include How to Get a Break as a Writer, 500 Albums You Won’t Believe Until You Hear Them (co-authored with his son Thom) and Singing The Blues, a twice published homage to his beloved Carlisle United. Neil has also written some fiction books under the pseudonym Stanley Manly. His next music book – due out later this year – is The Devil’s Jukebox; a title imagining the 100 tracks Satan would collect to chill to after a hard day in Hell.
NOTES TO JOURNALISTS:
The book’s final chapter focuses on rare and little known Beatles records including:
Have You Heard the Word by The Fut – one of the most infamous non-Beatles tracks mistaken for real thing. The Lennon-alike lead vocal is actually Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees who proved so convincing that Yoko Ono copyrighted the song to Lennono Music in 1985.
Lies by Knickerbockers – this single, recorded by an American garage band, is so like The Beatles it has been bootlegged and presented as real Beatle work.
Cry for a Shadow – this actually IS The Beatles, but who knew? Recorded by Polydor before they were signed to Parlophone and performing an instrumental written by John and George (the only Lennon-Harrison track they ever recorded).
Neil is happy to supply copies of the above tracks, and other talking point non-Beatle rarities, should you wish to cover this area in your story or interview.