Critic at Large
I have just finished reading a new novel, Billy Shears Ė The Secret History of the Beatles, by Doctor Lev, whose birth name is Bruce, but for some unknown reason prefers to call himself Doctor. Thatís probably a story in itself! Back in the mid sixties, when the Beatles were at the zenith of their worldwide fame and popularity, a rumor spread like wild fire that Paul McCartney, one of the most popular Beatles, was killed in an automobile accident. In order not to upset the money making machine, the remaining three Beatles, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison and their management team, found a McCartney look alike and sound alike replacement for Paul in the person of Billy Campbell, a young Scottish musician, who was a dead ringer for McCartney, both in looks and in voice. Besides, he was a guitarist and songwriter, playing and singing in local bands until that supposedly fatal day.
I was already in Florida when the rumor surfaced and I remember a local radio personality, Robby Yonge, losing his job for spreading the rumor. Now, Doctor Lev has written a fascinating novel about the affair, and when you finish reading it, you will be filled with a sense of doubt, just as I was. So plausible is Levís account that the book reads like a documentary. He uses real names and recreates conversations and situations as if it were the real thing.
Whenever I see Paul McCartney on TV now, I wonder if he is the real thing, or an imposter playing a role? I was never a serious Beatle fan, as is Doctor Lev. I admired their work and what they had accomplished, but that was all. Doctor Lev is an unabashed fan and even has a web site. You can send him an email at inquiring any and all Beatles knowledge. He is not only a fan, but also an historian. The book is an easy read and I finished it in one sitting. Billy Shears is published by Dorrance and sells for $18.00. Even if you are not a Beatles fan, itís great and interesting. It will leave you wondering.