The US edition of Behind the Locked Door is published next week (January 22), by The Overlook Press in New York.
In the run-up, there’s been a couple of nice starred reviews in the Library Journal and Booklist, published in full below:
Thomson, a prolific contributor to various music magazines and author of a well-received Kate Bush biography (2010’s Under the Ivy), adds to the mountain of Beatles bios with this long and thorough telling of the life of George Harrison (1943–2001). Eschewing Geoffrey Giuliano’s mud-slinging approach in Dark Horse (1989) and Gary Tillery’s overly subjective emphasis on Harrison’s spirituality in Working Class Mystic (2011), Thomson instead delivers an extensive, evenhanded account of the former Beatles guitarist, covering his youth, his years in the Beatles, and a sporadically successful solo career. The author draws from both previously published interviews and new conversations with insiders, including wives, employees, and collaborators to craft an intimate portrait of a gifted and usually reclusive musician whose life followed two contradictory paths, one humble and spiritual and the other luxurious and entitled, as Harrison enjoyed the spoils of fame while mostly shunning the limelight. Thomson explores this fascinating dichotomy at length in prose that is both richly detailed and clearly written.
VERDICT Fans of either the Beatles or Harrison the solo artist will find much to relish in this thorough and accessible account that, when paired with Harrison’s I Me Mine (1981), gives a well-rounded picture of both the man and the musician.—Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
He was known as the Quiet One, a “shallow” and “simplistic label,” as journalist and music biographer Thomson rightly notes. But George Harrison, the youngest Beatle, was a complicated fellow, “the least flashy, the least brash,” asserts Thomson; the Beatle who was least drawn to the glare of fame. Indeed, Harrison, who had a serious green thumb, seemed happier tending his garden than playing the role of the rock star. Many critics thought he would disappear from the spotlight after the Beatles officially split in April 1970. Instead, he enjoyed his most fertile period with the release of a triple album, All Things Must Pass, and the “symbolic pinnacle” of his career, the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, the first benefit music concert. Thomson looks at Harrison’s normal upbringing in Liverpool; his joining the Beatles and the chaos that followed; his forging a solo career as well as his stint with the Traveling Wilburys; his role as a movie producer; and his final years, including a violent attack in his home and his death in 2001 in Beverly Hills at 58. Thomson is especially compelling in his illumination of Harrison’s inner life, his robust spirituality, and his deep love of Indian culture. A must for all Beatles collections and for fans of the quiet man himself. — June Sawyers