The Beatles And Beyond
published: 16 /
In 'Raging Pages' guest writer Nick Dent-Robinson finds fascinating 60's and 70's show business reporter and journalist Don Short's new memoir, 'The Beatles and Beyond'.
Don Short, now in his late eighties, was arguably the UK's top show business reporter. Anyone who read the popular papers in the 1960s and 1970s will have followed his never-ending scoops in 'The Daily Mirror' when that paper was the country's best seller, read by five million people each day. As a young trainee reporter towards the end of that time on the same newspaper, I can well recall the respect all had for Don Short. When journalists on rival papers wondered whether to check on yet another huge scoop from Short, the words of one of Fleet Street's most distinguished editors would ring in their ears, “If Don Short says it's true, then it is true!”
Of course there was no social media back then, no mobile phones or internet. As a reporter following a story, you had to be there. If you wanted to know about film stars, stage actors or rock musicians you had to know them. Music and showbiz was not yet ruled by the PR and marketing machinery that controls so much nowadays. At that time, there was constant international travel for journalists, nights away – often at the best hotels. 'The Daily Mirror' and 'The Sun' would each have two planes on permanent standby at Gatwick Airport for use at any time. The profitability of successful newspapers was immense, as was their influence and power.
Don Short's new memoir, 'The Beatles and Beyond', takes the reader back to those exciting days. It is a treasure trove of anecdote and gossip with an amazing roll call of showbiz and music royalty. Short knew everyone – The Beatles, The Stones, Elvis, Cliff, Clapton, Bowie, Adam Faith, Tom Jones plus many of the most famous stars of stage and screen - like Richard Burton, Liz Taylor, Roger Moore, Richard Harris, Peter Sellers...so many are featured in this book. There's Don having Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Patti Boyd round for dinner at his home and when Don's six year-old daughter can't sleep, Paul gently sings her a lullaby. John Lennon asks Don to act as peacemaker when John's father, Freddie, who had deserted his son when the boy was seven, suddenly comes back into his life. It didn't work out and Don witnesses John yelling at his father, “Get out, get out – you're a good-for-nothing drunk. Get back to the gutter where you belong!”.
Short was the journalist who actually coined the phrase “Beatlemania” and he was also the person who first broke the story of their break-up in 1970 with his banner headline, 'Paul Quits The Beatles'.
This memoir is quite remarkable - probably unique - for the range of insights it gives into the world of celebrity, both in film and music, back in the very different era of the 1960s and 1970s. Even for those born many years later, it will prove a fascinating read!