Living the Beatles Legend

On the Road with the Fab Four – The Mal Evans Story

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Pub Date 14 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 1 Mar 2024


The first full-length biography of Mal Evans, the Beatles’ beloved roadie, assistant, confidant and friend

A towering figure in horn-rimmed glasses, Malcolm ‘Mal’ Evans was an invaluable member of the Beatles’ inner circle. Serving as their long-time roadie, personal assistant and protector, he was a sometime lyricist, occasional performer and regular fixer at the height of the group’s fame and beyond.

But Mal’s dedication to his beloved ‘boys’ and his own desire for stardom took its toll, leading to the dissolution of his marriage and his untimely death in January 1976.

Until now, Mal’s extraordinary life has remained shrouded in mystery. Drawing on hundreds of exclusive interviews and with full access to Mal’s unpublished archives – including his personal diaries, manuscripts and memorabilia – renowned Beatles scholar Kenneth Womack paints the first complete portrait of this complicated figure at the heart of the Beatles’ story.

Living the Beatles Legend is a fascinating but ultimately tragic tale about life at the edges of superstardom.

The first full-length biography of Mal Evans, the Beatles’ beloved roadie, assistant, confidant and friend

A towering figure in horn-rimmed glasses, Malcolm ‘Mal’...

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ISBN 9780008551223
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Featured Reviews

Written from the diaries of the Beatles’ Road Manager, Mal Evans, this is a true insight of those hedonistic days, right from the beginnings at the Cavern club.

There have been several fifth Beatle spots claimed but Mal definitely comes in the top mentions.

The book is full of new facts, not known to me or many other fans I have spoken to before this offering. These are events from the horse’s mouth and can’t be disputed.

Mal was a trusted and loyal friend, fan and employee to the boys and their families, a chap you could always rely on.

Well written and documented, with some cracking unseen photos, Womack has played a blinder with this one. A real joy to read, will definitely buy when the hard copy comes out.

A proper page turner, would 100% recommend. No Beatle collection is complete without it.

Thank you NetGalley.

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Living the Beatles Legend is the story of the Fab Four's legendary roadie Mal Evans. From their days at the Cavern Club until the final break-up Evans was a loyal friend as well as an employee and enjoyed a degree of personal fame as a result. As well as their road manager Evans was also a fixer and if required a minder, known as a gentle giant who would rather defuse a situation rather than resort to getting physical.

As well as the story of a complex and interesting character this book is pure gold for Beatles fans, Mal Evans kept diaries of his entire time with the Beatles and left a veritable horde of information and memories ,written and photographic. This is a man who not only worked for the Beatles but socialised ,went on holidays with them and even appeared on some of their records. This treasure trove was very nearly lost to the world,only saved by coincidence and the determination of a handful of people until ending up with Evans' family.

This is probably the most authentic record of Beatlemania ,warts and all, that there has been,or ever will be. Mal Evans wasn't told the stories,he was there and his account is contemporary, he drove the vans,he was in the recording studios,saw the arguments, went to the parties.

This is the story of both a simple and a complex man,while living a hedonistic life he clung on to the family and loving wife that he continually neglected and let down while being at the beck and call of the Beatles. When finally he was told he couldn't have his cake and eat his life spiralled downwards with tragic results, an

This is a long book packed with detail,the tale of how it came about is as fascinating as any of the anecdotes within its covers. Evans' whole archive very nearly ended up being thrown away as rubbish when a building was being cleared.

A fascinating and informative book.

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Even if you don’t recognize the name, you will have seen pictures with him in. According to Kenneth Womack, Evans was quite deliberate, sticking close to his charges, knowing there would be a very good chance he’d end up in the finally published picture. Hard to miss at 6ft 3, he’s ever present throughout the 8 hours of “Get Back”, the man with the guitar picks, tea and toast. Getting arrested at the end of the rooftop concert was a perfect encapsulation of his role – the friendly giant who always stood between the Fab Four and those that wanted to get to them.

Author Womack has written numerous books on the Beatles and was chosen by Evans son Gary and daughter Julie to tell their fathers story. Womack was given Evans diaries, the autobiographical manuscript Evans never managed to get published in his lifetime, and a treasure trove of memorabilia that he had squirreled away having worked with The Beatles from their days at the Cavern to beyond the split and the collapse of Apple into their solo careers.

Hired at George’s suggestion because of his imposing presence, Evans was unusual as a bodyguard and roadie because of his preference for cracking grins rather than heads. In a business that thrives on backstabbing and double dealing Evans seemed genuinely unusual given how much love and respect there was for him, and believed a lot of his success was down to him being a Beatle fan first and foremost.

It’s a detailed book – we get the registration number of the vans and cars Mal used, dates of dental appointments, but these sit amongst the recollections of someone who wasn’t just in the room for every recording session and at every gig once Epstein took control of the band, but on hand for Ringo and George’s solo work, the concert for Bangladesh and even Lennon’s lost weekend, matching Moon and Nilsson drink for drink while Lennon tried to keep up, the tee total May Pang at his side. Womack does a great job of weaving together the story from Cavern gigs to solo albums alongside Evans personal story. There’s no padding – Womack takes it as given that someone seeking out a book like this won’t need rehashes of the Mersey music scene, 60’s politics, the Fab Four’s family histories and it’s all the better for it. Despite the detail Evans story is told at pace.

Although the book was written at behest of Evans surviving family, it doesn’t pull it’s punches. There’s no doubt that Evans loved being part of the Beatles inner circle. He loved the access it gave him to some of the most famous people in the world and basked in the limelight, even if it only reached him when reflecting off a Beatle. Despite constant fears that he’d be dismissed all 4 Beatles came to rely on him because he excelled at being able to fulfil any Beatle whim – whether it was for socks, dope, girls or guitar strings – any time of the night or day. He always put them first, before himself and before his family. He took full advantage of the access it gave him to women and girls and freely available drugs. But there’s a melancholy air to the whole tale, as Evans initial strategy of compartmentalising his life – adoring father, loving husband in one box, hedonistic aspiring songwriter and producer in another – eventually failed him. By the time he’d finally found and produced successful records for Splinter and Bandfinger it was too little, too late, and not with the four guys he cared about them most.

Each Beatle comes across as capable of kindness and appreciation but often self absorbed and at times flat out dismissive and unkind. Frequently buoyed up by their willingness to include him in everything, he was also very aware it meant he’d be on hand for need no matter how trivial. Gifted a car by Epstein, Evans was delighted but it’s also evident that it’s primary use was enabling him to fetch and carry for his employers. As band members purchase huge homes in the Home Counties (which Evans helps them move into and equip) he has to get a £500 loan from Epstein as he’s otherwise broke, can’t find the £2,000 he needs to move nearby and spent nearly his whole time in their employ on less than £40 a week. Promised a writing credit for helping McCartney with “Hear, There and Everywhere”, “Sgt Pepper” and “Fixing a Hole”, McCartney goes back on his word, saying they needed to stick with “Lennon & McCartney”, but he’d still get royalties. Which he didn’t, and when he dies aged just 40, his mental health in tatters, it’s George that covers Evan’s funeral expenses.

Despite the millions of words already written about them, Evans story is a significant addition to the Beatles canon. A second volume is in the works which will feature reproductions of diary entries, unpublished photos and memorabilia. That there was any story to be told at all is also a remarkable footnote, when an Estonian immigrant called Leena Kutti – artist by night, temp by day – rescued four bankers boxes full of Evans diaries, photos and the manuscript of his unpublished autobiography titled “Living The Beatles Legend – 200 Miles To Go” from a publishers basement storage room she had been hired to clear. Kutti made an inventory of the boxes, and then took a copy in person to the Dakota building for Yoko’s attention, as well as sending Evans’ widow Lily a copy having tracked down her name and address via phone books at the New York public library. She never heard back from Yoko, but a Christmas card from Lily Evans thanked Kutti for her efforts, and Beatles fans the world over will be thanking her today.

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Now if you are a Fan of The Beatles.......this is a book for you.....

Living the Beatles Legend by Kenneth Womack is the Untold Story of Mal Evans who was the road manager of The Beatles. This book is the first full-length biography and true insight of those hedonistic days, from the very beginning at the Cavern club all those years ago.

Malcolm ‘Mal’ Evans was an invaluable member of the Beatles’ inner circle. He served as their long-time roadie, personal assistant and protector, he was a sometime lyricist, occasional performer and regular fixer at the height of the group’s fame and beyond. But Mal’s dedication to his beloved ‘boys’ and his own desire for stardom took its toll, leading to the dissolution of his marriage and his untimely death in January 1976.

However, until now, Mal’s extraordinary life has remained shrouded in mystery. But, within this book you will read hundreds of exclusive interviews and with full access to Mal’s unpublished archives, they include his personal diaries, manuscripts and memorabilia. These have been rewritten by Beatles scholar Kenneth Womack who paints the first complete portrait of this complicated figure at the heart of the Beatles’ story.

What a Brilliant book this was and a must have for any Beatle fan, new or old. Plus, a great Christmas or Birthday Present......

Big Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK, Nonfiction, Mudlark for my ARC.

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Happy publication day for such an amazing book.
I must admit that I am only 50% through the book as I did not realise how big it is, but what a masterpiece of social history, music history and UK history.
This is not just an everyday account of someone's diary. I think Mal knew from an early age that some part of his life was going to be interesting and so he kept writing his diaries. I also wonder if his diaries were some form of therapy for him to get some of the craziness of his life out of his head and down on paper.. As well as Mal's diaries, I think some comment must be made about the biographer, Kenneth Womack, as he deals with everything chronologically, keeping as much detail as he can, but also shower the darker side of the showbiz life. There is some reading between the lines to understand the context but it was clear that Mal's wife and family held the fort back in Liverpool whilst Mal did his own thing.
I know this is not a full review but I will post one when I finish the book. But all music lovers should read this. Mal was the man that was involved in everything that the Beatles did, from setting up the equipment at gigs, to spending holiday time with the band members whilst operating as a bodyguard and good friend, right through to being involved in the formation of Apple, and so many other things.
Many thanks to Harper Collins UK, Netgalley and Kenneth Womack for providing me with an electronic advanced copy of the book in return for an honest, unbiased review.
The book is now available to purchase in e-book and hardcover formats

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As I finished reading this book, The Beatles have just shot up to No I in the pop charts with ‘Now and Then’ and it seemed appropriate and poignant. Mal Evans was in the eye of the storm at the court of the Beatles and was one of them who knew them best. So how did he end up dying at the age of 40 after being shot by the US police?
Before he met the group he had a conventional life as a Post Office engineer, got married to Lil and was presumably looking forward to retirement. Until he visited the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool and fell under the Beatles spell. He became their road manager and nothing was ever the same again for him as he became part of their inner circle. As his wife put it in the book, ‘he had four mistresses, John, Paul, George, Ringo. ‘
As well as being their roadie, he was also, cook, bodyguard, procurer, errand boy, fixer, handyman, chauffeur, housekeeper and bouncer. At 6ft 3ins he was an imposing presence and he can be seen in many photos with the group. He said himself ‘I would do anything for them.’ and he was described by several people in the book as a big cuddly bear. But there was a darker side to Beatlemania as he sampled the girls who wanted to sleep with Beatles first and then selected the most likely ones to be passed on.
He was not well paid during his tenure and when the Beatles imploded so spectacularly suddenly he had to find a new role within the newly created Apple organisation. The book quotes John Lennon as saying ‘You’ve got to be a bastard to make it and that’s a fact.’ Mal was held in great affection by the Beatles and their coterie and it’s stated several times in the book that ‘everybody loved him.’ In fact, Peter Blake’s wife, Jan Haworth, described him as ‘a very sweet person in a world of poseurs’ However, none of them seemed to be able to see him outside his usual roles. After spending his time anticipating others needs, he now had to consider his own But as he said to his then partner, ‘I don’t have a regular life anymore it’s gone.’ He’d been as famous as the Beatles and was now freefalling into another life. He was having to face up to the reality of life outside the Beatles bubble.
Mal was a successful talent scout and discovered the groups Badfinger and Splinter. He also tried being a record producer and songwriter but they all seemed to come to nothing. Towards the end of his life, he talked of writing his memoir of his time with the Beatles and approached a publisher. But this slipped through his fingers and finally in 1976 it all ended so tragically.
His diaries and photos ended up languishing in a basement of a publisher and were about to be thrown out as rubbish until a temp, Leena Kutti realised how important they were and dropped a letter to Yoko Ono at the Dakota Building in New York. Apple Corp’s lawyers swung into action and the 6 bankers boxes were sent to Mal’s wife.
The book is a portrait of a man who lived an extraordinary life and also a frustrating one. Was it a lack of self confidence, not getting the breaks or the shifting sand of Apple records – who knows? But Mal Evans has earned his place in rock history and perhaps that’s what he would have wanted. It’s well written and has Mal’s archive as research. It’s a fascinating record of the time.
It's a shame that Mal isn't here to see his his book in print.
My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC.

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An interesting look at what life was like being around the Beatles. All I can say is Mal had a wife with far more patience than me! So many times I wanted to shake him. I found he came across as very selfish.

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This book was a fascinating insight into a man who was there from the start of the Beatles! He became their right hand man, so to speak, and explain just had crazy the fame was at times, and the lengths people would go to to get closer to the Fab Four.

Mal had his own demons too, and through his own writings, diary entries, and input from his family, we get to see behind the scenes in not only the fame aspect of life around The Beatles, but also how that impacted on him and his family and led to a very tragic ending for Mal when he took his own life in 1976.

Watching how his life changed when he happened to be in the right place at the right time was really interesting to learn about. Just shows how fate can move your life in a way that is unimaginable! From their early days to the height of their fame, we see from his perspective the madness that followed them where ever they went.

The spotlight on the toll it took on his family too, with him always travelling and becoming part of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle he found himself in. It was very sad to see his life spiralling downwards and also it was fascinating to learn of how his memoir and documents were eventually found and given back to the family. An enthralling piece of music history.

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A really interesting read if it can all be believed. Paul McCartney claims in interviews it was his mother in a dream who told him to "Let it Be". He never mentioned Malcom??

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I absolutely loved this book! I am a huge Beatles fan and having recently watched - several times - the Get Back documentary, I was eager to read about the omnipresent Mal Evans.
Wonderfully detailed and researched, it was great to read about his early life and how he ended up from a Beatles superfan to their most loyal member of staff. It did shatter any illusions I had of Mal as a straight up, steady family man. He was Mr Fix it for all four Beatles, anything they needed he was able to source. However, perhaps not unsurprisingly, he was not adverse to joining in the hedonistic lifestyle his heroes were leading at the time. He was a rock to the group, but in devoting his life to the Beatles, he sacrificed his family life, appearing to be a selfish and inadequate husband and father.
His loyalty to the group never seemed to be reciprocated, his wages never rose above £38 a week and he was frequently short of money which seemed really sad. His death in 1976 was tragic, from the book it appeared to be death by suicide by the US police.
Absolutely fascinating read.

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An extensive biography of Malcolm Evans: roadie, assistant, etc to The Beatles. Based on Evans's personal diaries alongside all the memorabilia he had collected over the years, this work is definitely warts & all. It was a fascinating read to see what went on behind the scenes at the recording sessions & the real life friendships of the Beatles & how it all fell apart.

Infidelities, drug use, & partying all took their toll on Evans when his work life clashed with his private life. I didn't particularly like him as a person after reading this, he seemed to be supremely selfish when it came to his family. His wife & two children spent months of each year without him & he didn't even have the decency to hide evidence of his on-the-road dalliances from his wife. Plus some of these girls were extremely young & maybe he was no different to many other men in the rock & roll lifestyle of the time but it was grim reading. When things started to implode, I had problems feeling any sympathy for him to be honest.

Overall, it's an informative read which covers the whole gamut of the Beatles' career as a group. It doesn't shy away from showing the seamier side of the lifestyle, & the issues that can stem from that. It's well written & keeps the reader's attention.

My thanks to NetGalley & publishers, HarperCollins UK/Mudlark, for the opportunity to read an ARC.

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