Beatles Chronicler Says He'll Never Sell Film Rights

DEVOTING quarter of a century chronicling the career of the world’s biggest band and turning down repeated film deals from Hollywood were among the topics touched on by leading Beatles expert, Mark Lewisohn, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this evening.

Lewisohn was discussing Tune In: All These Years, the first part of his epic, quarter-century-long project to record the career of the Fab Four in a chronological as-it-happened form, from their earliest days through to the final rooftop concert in 1969.

Lewisohn said that, even with more than three decades of researching The Beatles, he was still finding new information. “I could have carried on researching volume one, but there is a point where you have to say ‘I have what I need’,” he said. “My ethos is to leave no stone unturned, so I will travel anywhere in the world, to any place that might have something that I don’t actually know. This is a learning journey for me at all times. This stuff is out there, and literally on a daily basis I’m learning new things, and I’ve been doing this for 35 years as a professional Beatles researcher, so it’s still out there. You would not believe the depth and the breadth of the paper trail they left behind, and of course the recordings and photographs and so on.”

Despite being one of the best-known stories in show business, Lewisohn said that he chose to write tell The Beatles story without referencing the fame and success that would come. “I decided on the device as a writer which is not to anticipate what is coming next,” he explained. “The idea is that this is a history of peoples’ lives, they had no idea what was going to happen tomorrow, and therefore nor must you the reader, and I write it as if we don’t know what’s coming, even though of course in sense we do. I quite like the fact that some of the reviewers of the book have said, ‘you need to get on with volume two, I need to know what’s going to happen next. As if they might not make it, because the book ends with them on the very brink of the breakthrough.”

However, despite creating a dazzling, detailed portrait of the early days the band, ideal for screen adaptation, Lewisohn said that he would never sell it.    “I have a problem with biopics because I’m uncomfortable with anyone putting dialogue into the mouths of people we know so well,” he said. “I’ve turned down four Hollywood offers to buy this book because I know when it comes on television, I’m going to be sitting cringing, with characters who don’t look like The Beatles saying words that they would never have said and everything’s too crass. It gives me the heebie jeebies that idea.”

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