ALL TIME FAVORITE BAD REVIEWS
“The sight of Geoffrey Giuliano’s face is enough to make anyone a recluse. My husband once made the remark: “That guy knows more about my life than I do.” Mr. Giuliano missed the joke and used it to endorse his book. To rate himself as the world’s greatest rock’n’roll biographer (a laughable title in the first place) is nothing but delusion. He has only ever been in the vicinity of my husband for about ten minutes and considers himself an expert. He parades as a spiritual person while comdemning the famous, yet without them his achievements in this life wouldn’t rate one line in any newspaper. To judge Paul McCartney as ‘vacuous and shallow’ after all Paul has written and offered to the world is surely the judgement of an arrogant mind, especially as Giuliano’s own recognition is not because he is creative, but because, like a starving dog, he scavenges from his heroes, picking up bits of gristle and sinew along the way, repackaging them for consumption by a gullible public. His life is a “curse” to himself, and perhaps his admitted 300 acid trips by the age of 19 have something to do with it. I’m sick of this guy.”
– Olivia Harrison, 1992
The Saint And The Monster
Making monsters out of martyrs makes money. Just ask Geoffrey Giuliano, the notorious Beatles biographer who’s recently made headlines and bank queues with Lennon in America. Giuliano’s latest work (based in part on the so-called “lost Lennon diaries”) slings mud on the saintly image John Lennon has achieved since his murder 20 years ago.Calling this biography controversial is an understatement — Lennon fans, casual or devoted, will shake their head in disbelief at the shocking facts Giuliano, the author of 18 Beatles biographies, has culled over 16 years of research and interviews.”I love John Lennon, man,” says an outspoken Giuliano amid the lunch-hour din at Fred’s Not Here. “But I love the real John Lennon, not the Disney character.”Giuliano is referring to a Lennon that, according to his book, had sexual relations with his mother and Linda McCartney, raped a fan, consumed alcohol, heroin, cocaine and marijuana at a self-destructive rate, and possessed an uncontrollable temper that led him to abuse himself and his family.Giuliano’s Lennon is from a different planet than the media-contrived pop idol who penned such classics as “All You Need Is Love” and “Give Peace a Chance.” For most, Lennon was a martyr, a brilliant artist who railed against a crumbling society and the final spokesman for a generation that wasn’t content to sit back and watch its freedom be repressed.But Giuliano shows no remorse in his contrary portrait. He also clearly believes his word on Lennon is law and wants to make sure everyone knows it. “I once sold all my research,” he tells a collection of local reporters. “But I went and bought it all back at double the price. It’s the only thing people want me to do.”Among Giuliano’s sources is a copy of Lennon’s handwritten diary (provided by Harry Nilsson) and a selection of recently discovered personal audiotapes.”Nobody went to the Liverpool uncles that were 80 years old but me,” says Giuliano. “Nobody went to the dying aunts’ houses. I did.”But no matter how convincing Giuliano’s spiel, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this photograph isn’t in focus. The rambling nature of the book races through shocking facts so quickly that it rarely stops to acknowledge that Lennon did anything but cause suffering. And why does a book that attempts to uncover the true Lennon focus so heavily on the bad while leaving the good shrouded in shadows?”Your concepts of bad and good seem kind of childish,” Giuliano tells me one-on-one. “I don’t think we should put a value system on the activities of human beings caught in the web of their own emotional circumstances. Is it bad to be homosexual, is it bad to shoot heroin?”Well, I suggest, it’s bad to rape fans, for one. It’s bad to beat your wife and kids.”Are you Christian?” Giuliano asks with a venomous eye. No, I tell him. “Well, I don’t think I share quite the same concept of good and bad. The book makes him neither more saintly nor demonic, because those are superhuman terms. It makes him look more human.”Lennon in America might be the only book that took 16 years to research and only three months to write. “It’s not that well-written,” admits Giuliano, who rushed writing the book to beat the competition of a second Lennon biography, due this summer. “Whoever gets out first sells. That’s the way it is.”If there is one person who won’t be happy with this book, it’s Yoko Ono, who has spent her life fighting to preserve the Lennon name and estate. The couple’s relationship has always been a hot topic among Beatles fans, and Giuliano is no exception.”She is a cold-hearted bitch,” he says. Giuliano feels Lennon’s marriage to Ono “made him more codependent and brought out his socio-sexual retardation — he was pussy-whipped.” Giuliano also says he considers Ono’s art “shit” and even accuses her of theft. “I left a John Lennon gold record at her house and she refused to give it back!”
– Kevin Hainey, Toronto, Canada, May 11, 2000
THE MOTHER TERESA OF ROCK JOURNALISM
Note: This is a response from one of Giuliano’s long time literary associates.