I read a really good book recently, y'all — Rubber Soul, by Greg Kihn. Let me tell you a little about it.
Rubber Soul by Greg Kihn
Greg Kihn is a rock star, seasoned radio host and author. Rubber Soul, his latest novel is inspired by intimate interviews that he conducted with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Pete Best, Yoko Ono and Patti Harrison. Though Rubber Soul is fiction, as Greg says it is “100% historically accurate” and an candid glimpse of the phenomenon that is The Beatles.
Rubber Soul is a an innovation in the Rock Thriller genre, taking readers on a rollicking ride through The Beatles legacy from the early days in Liverpool to six sold out shows per night in Hamburg and full-fledged Beatlemania.
Dust Bin Bob runs into some lads from Liverpool at his second hand shop on Penny Lane. The lads: John, Paul, George and Ringo and Dust Bin Bob become firm friends, sharing vinyl that will spark a revolution. Murder, mystery and Beatlemania mayhem ensues—with the boys narrowly avoiding an international incident and an attempted assassination. It’s the ultimate Beatles story that could have happened!
The Ed Sullivan Theater on West 53rd Street only held seven hundred people but the show had received about fifty thousand applications for tickets. Cops lined the street in front. Bobby thought the Beatles were keeping remarkably calm.
Ed Sullivan himself greeted the band, waving a telegram from Elvis Presley.
“He wishes you luck,” Ed said proudly. “Elvis and the Colonel both wish you success in America.”
All four band members nodded, impressed that the King of Rock and roll would acknowledge their presence.
Bobby stayed out of the way and accompanied George’s sister Louise to her seat. Bobby saw a dense crowd of teenage girls squirming in their seats. The atmosphere crackled with electricity. TV cameras waited.
At last the stiff, uncomfortable image of Ed Sullivan appeared. After a rehearsal John had said Ed walked like he had a pole up his ass. Bobby could now corroborate this although no pole was visible. The red lights above each camera flickered on; the time was at hand.
Ed welcomed the viewers, made a few remarks, then introduced a brief commercial. A minute later he returned to a breathless audience. He must have known his words would go down in history, yet he rushed through them in the excitement of the moment.
“Now, yesterday and today, our theater has been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agree with me that the city has never witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves the Beatles. Now, tonight
you’ll be twice entertained by them, right now, and in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles!”
Paul counted off the song and went into the first line of All My Lovin’. As soon as the band joined in, shrill keening filled the air. The sound shook the theater walls, echoing across America and raised the hair on the back of Bobby’s neck. Hysterical screaming drowned out the music washing over them like a sonic tsunami. Louise clutched Bobby’s arm.
The response to the Beatles was thunderous. The manic behavior of the audience frightened Bobby. Faces around him seemed twisted and desperate. The screaming rang in his ears. Tears rolled down the cheeks of the female audience members. Bobby found himself swept up in it and realized he too was shouting at the top of his lungs.
The Beatles seemed above it all, delivering their music to the frenzied masses in a thoroughly professional manner. The harmonies in All My Lovin’ were perfect; the vocal blend was as natural and smooth as the Everly Brothers. Bobby was impressed that the group could play that flawlessly with relentless screaming in their ears.
All My Lovin’ ended and Till There Was You started with another Paul vocal. Bobby thought it odd that they would follow All My Lovin’ with another ballad sung by Paul but realized it was probably a group decision with Brian Epstein and Ed Sullivan approving the choice.
The third song, She Loves You, galvanized the audience and caused the greatest reaction of the set. Bobby considered She Loves You the ultimate Beatles song. Its “yeah, yeah, yeah” chorus and high pitched “whooo” at the end of the verses made it instantly recognizable.
When it ended the theater seemed to deflate. When the Beatles left the stage a huge vacuum sucked up the atmosphere.
Bobby looked at Louise. She blinked unbelieving.
“Good Lord. I don’t believe it.”
“It’s beyond anything we could imagine,” Bobby said.
They hardly noticed the next act, a man in a tuxedo doing card tricks.
Bobby’s mind went back to the Beatles. He wondered what they thought of it. They were used to British Beatlemania, but this was… well, this was out of control. Bobby wondered where it would all lead.
The cast of the Broadway show Oliver followed, but Bobby couldn't focus on the song. Frank Gorshin did impersonations of celebrities Bobby never heard of, but Bobby enjoyed the man’s elastic face and wild body language. Tessie O’Shea stood larger than life, strumming her banjo and belting out show tunes, but it seemed boring and ordinary to Bobby. The Beatles made everybody sound boring and ordinary.
An odd comedic team did a skit about a boss and his secretary, and Bobby found himself glancing at the clock, counting the minutes before the Beatles returned. At last they were back, and the screaming began anew.
“One! Two! Three! Fah!” Paul barked the count and Bobby instantly recognized the guitar intro to I Saw Her Standing There.
George played his dark brown Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar held high, picking the notes to the solo with a flourish. Bobby wondered why he wasn't using the black Rickenbacker he’d bought in St. Louis. John was playing his. Bobby imagined the matching black guitars would have looked cool on television. I Want To Hold Your Hand finished the set and caused the audience to expend what little energy they had left screaming and stamping their feet.
I really enjoyed Rubber Soul by Greg Kihn! I hope you approve of my excerpt choice, as it has personal meaning for me. I, too, witnessed The Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, along with Greg Kihn and Dust Bin Bob.
Oh, wait — Dust Bin Bob is fictional. I kept forgetting that because, to me, this excellent book read more like the memoir of Robert "Dust Bin Bob" Dingle than a work of fiction.
Rubber Soul is such a fun read! Kihn has perfectly captured the same quirky, zany characterizations of The Beatles as seen in their movies Help! and A Hard Day's Night. I recommend Rubber Soul to all Beatles' fans, especially to those of us who are Baby-Boomer mystery aficionados. Rubber Soul is an amazing, fab-ulous read about the Fab Four, which has earned my Five-Kitty seal of approval.
“There’s no one more qualified to write a rock-and-roll novel than Greg Kihn. He’s the real deal and at his Kihntillating best in this book.” – Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist of Apple
“Rubber Soul is a magical mystery tour de force by Greg Kihn, a rocker who obviously has a way with words as well as music. His imagined story about the Beatles is fast-moving, full of twists and tension, and musical nuggets and insights. Great story-telling set to a Fab-four beat.” – Ben Fong Torres
“Rubber Soul captures what Rock-n-Roll is all about – and Greg Kihn would certainly know! This nearly-true story of the Beatles is pure magic and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.” – Eddie Money
“Greg Kihn is the most compelling author who ever had a top five singing career. Rubber Soul is a fantastic story by Greg, with an historical back beat. I urge you not to miss this.” – Joan Jett
“I’m happy to report that Rubber Soul, the latest work by my pal Greg Kihn, has correct punctuation, complete sentences, even full paragraphs – some of the exact same literary devices that can be found in the greatest novels our culture has ever produced! It’s also written in English, which happens to be one of my very favorite languages.” – “Weird Al” Yankovic
“While the RIAA may not be able to certify Kihn’s work with a gold disc, fans of Kihn and The Beatles, as well as those who long for the simpler yet magical time of the 1960’s will thoroughly enjoy and fall in love with Rubber Soul. They certainly don’t write ‘em like this anymore.” – Chris Shapiro, RetroPulse
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Author Greg Kihn
NBC called Greg Kihn “Rock’s True Renaissance Man” and for good reason. As part of the eponymous band he has: toured the globe, had hit records, been inducted into the San Jose Rock Hall Of Fame, opened for the Rolling Stones and jammed with Bruce Springsteen. You may have heard of his smash worldwide #1 hit “Jeopardy” and “The Breakup Song”, not to mention the parody written by Weird Al Yankovic.
Being a famous and successful rock star is only one part of the mosaic that is Greg’s story. In the 90s Greg poured his passion for lyrics into writing fiction—publishing four novels, one of which “Horror Show” was nominated for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel.
In this vein, Greg merged his love of writing with Rock and Roll and wrote “Rubber Soul”—a unique rock murder mystery featuring The Beatles. The inspiration for this novel came from Greg’s interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Pete Best, Yoko Ono and Patti Harrison. In this way Greg gained exclusive access to the biggest band ever to exist. “Rubber Soul” is a work of fiction, but it is 100% historically accurate and a story that only rock veteran Greg Kihn could have written.
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Note: I received a review copy of Rubber Soul from the publisher, with no expectation of a positive review.