"People will learn how it was that Mo threw the pebble, that made the ripple, that caused the wave, that shook the world."
"I think it's a good idea to let people know about the Casbah. They know about the Cavern…but the Casbah was the place where all that started."
There are so many books these days on every aspect of the Beatles that it is hard to get excited about a new one. Just when you think that everything HAS been said about the world's greatest rock 'n roll band, along comes a book that actually ADDS to the story!
THE TRUE BEGINNINGS is an effort to tell the little known story of Mona Best (Pete Best's mother, also known as 'Mo') and her place in Beatles history. Those familiar with the Beatles history are well familiar with Pete Best, the Cavern Club and Brian Epstein. But, before the Cavern was the Casbah...the inspired creation of Mo Best. At the time it was a pretty revolutionary idea for rock 'n roll club because at time, nobody was doing clubs below street level, it was pretty much only dance halls. This book tells the story of Mo Best and more importantly, her influence on the Beatles story, which until now has been kind of downplayed to her being simply 'the mother of the drummer that got kicked out'.
Mo was more than just the mother of the drummer for the Beatles. Before Allan Williams and Brian Epstein she was a combination manager/promoter for the band. And her creation of the Casbah club was just the beginning. So important was Mo to the Beatles that when Brian Epstein wanted to manage the band he first asked Mo if she had any intention of managing the band. The Casbah was also the place of several 'meetings' for the band; it was the place where John and Paul 'convinced' Stu Sutcliffe to purchase a bass to become the band's bass player; it was also the place that Brian Epstein met with the Beatles and Mo best to go over the management contract.
THE TRUE BEGINNINGS is mainly a visual scrapbook of the Casbah than a written account of those years (although there is some interesting text). Those who want an excellent narrative of this time in the Beatles history should check out Pete Best's excellent account of this time in his 1985 book, BEATLE ("Beatle!: The Pete Best Story" by Pete Best & Patrick Doncaster). In fact, quite a few of the photos used in that book have found there way into this one. However, the coffee-table format of this book is fantastic. There are pictures of original microphones, guitars, amps, outfits used by the Beatles and furnishings of the club - all pretty well preserved, especially for a club that closed in 1962! Also, the original rooms of the Casbah are photographed, some of which the Beatles themselves helped paint (wow, how would you like to own paintings done by the Beatles in your basement!).
Although the visual aspect of this book is its primary focus, there are some interesting words from Casbah members and of course the main players of the Beatles story. You find just how the Casbah came about (the funding of the house is an interesting story in itself!), how all the local kids pitched in to get the club ready and how it operated on a membership deal. There are also press clippings from the period and promotional posters used at the time.
So, does the book reveal any new tidbits for Beatle-lore? Yes, there are many and I found a few quite surprising. For instance, I did not know that the Beatles kept in contact with Mo for some years after hitting the 'toppermost of the poppermost'. I had always assusmed that once they stopped talking to Pete Best (none of the Beatles EVER talked to Pete Best after he was ejected from the band), they no longer contacted Mo. However, they would often send Mo presents from the various tour stops around the world. And, most interesting, John Lennon borrowed the war medals of Mo Best's father to wear on his satin jacket for the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover!
Sadly, Mo is no longer with us, but this book takes you back to the little basement club she ran, and is a glorious tribute to her vision. The excitement of that time permeates the photographs of the books. You can't help but feel that you are inside 'King Tut's tomb' in regards to Beatle history. A MUST for all Beatle fans!