Fictional Book by Jerome Wallerstein
First off, let me state a disclaimer: I am no big fan of fiction, and that also includes rock ‘n roll-based fiction. I’ve checked out the various fan-fiction out there on the world-wide-web (mostly of the Beatles variety). Generally, the stories are shallow and as believable as the Saturday morning Beatle cartoons that aired in the mid-‘60s. Previously, my sole exception to my ‘rock fiction’ rule has been Lewis Shiner’s excellent rock ‘n roll fantasy “Glimpses”. However, I can now add Jerome L. Wallerstein’s “I Buried Paul” to my list of enjoyable AND entertaining rock ‘n roll fiction books.
For those of you with NO background in rock ‘n roll history, a rumor began in 1969, which claimed that Paul McCartney was dead. He had died in a car accident in 1966 and was replaced by a look alike. The remaining Beatles placed clues in their music and in their album artwork to let their fans “tune in” to the truth. Of course the Beatles themselves had no real reason to deny the rumors, especially since it boosted their already astronomical record sales!
I am a voracious reader when it comes to rock ‘n roll books, whether it is bios, histories or the endless number of “list” books that are out there. And, being a huge fan of the Beatles I am also a stickler for details and facts. I was always fascinated by the “Paul is dead” story, which originated in 1969, and enjoyed a resurgence in the late ‘70s when the famous “Paul is Dead” magazine was reprinted. At this time there was even a class taught at my middle school on the subject! And of course the 1977 National Lampoon all-Beatles issue, which ran a parody of the “Paul is dead” story complete with mortuary photos of Paul! Fast forward to the present day, with the advent of the internet. There is a deluge of websites devoted to the “Paul is dead” theme. I thought that just about everything had been said about the subject.
The premise of Jerome Wallerstein’s story is that he was an “insider” to the Beatles organization in the heyday of Beatlemania. Having grown up in Liverpool, their paths crossed often until Wallerstein went off to college. A few years later, with a degree in pharmacology, he was brought into the Beatles “inner circle” as their drug supplier. When you think of the drug experimentation of the ‘60s, this seems totally believable. Being in such constant proximity to the Beatles, Wallerstein was privy to inside information, including the ‘Paul is dead’ cover-up. With the entrance of Yoko Ono in 1968, Wallerstein lost favor and was ‘let go’. He gives an interesting twist as to why the conspiracy was hatched and who were the primary players. Yes, John Lennon was the prime instigator, but I’m not giving any more of the story away!
The book is split into two sections, memoirs and an interview. The memoir section covers Wallerstein’s biography, his years as the Beatles drug supplier and his ‘confession’ of the ‘Paul is dead’ conspiracy. The memoir section of the book reminded me of the true-life book, UP & DOWN WITH THE ROLLING STONES, by Tony Sanchez. ‘Spanish’ Tony was the Rolling Stones drug supplier in the ‘60s and ‘70s and wrote a book about it. The second half of I BURIED PAUL is the ‘interview’. Wallerstein is being interviewed, with the journalist trying to discredit his claims of Paul being dead. I actually preferred this part of the book, with its description and explanation of the ‘clues’ that the (remaining) Beatles left in their music and on their album covers.
Wallerstein really knows his Beatles facts and I only found one single fact used that I contest and that is the year of the Beatles cocaine use. Paul McCartney himself has placed the date of cocaine use during the recording of the Sgt. Pepper album. I BURIED PAUL has the Beatles enjoying the drug in 1965. Maybe it is artistic license or maybe I’m just being nitpicky. What I really liked about the book is that it did not stick solely to the ‘Paul is dead’ story. Wallerstein also delivers a few theories on such Beatle lore as: Brian Epstein’s death and Mal Evan’s death.
All fans of the Beatles will love this book, especially those like myself who were fascinated by the ‘Paul is dead’ story. Plus, anybody with only a casual knowledge of rock ‘n roll history will also enjoy I BURIED PAUL. I will definitely have to explore some of Jerome Wallerstein’s other rock ‘n roll writings.
Where was this book in 1969? I think it would have been very interesting if a fictional memoir like this had been released when the rumors first broke.
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