Publisher Callaway Arts and Entertainment has announced that the first official Beatles book in 20 years is set to be published next year on 31st August 2021. The book, called The Beatles: Get Back, will be published alongside the upcoming Peter Jackson documentary of the same name that’s being made in partnership with Disney. The ambitious project was originally scheduled to be released in September of this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused it to be delayed.
The film, which follows the making of the group’s final album, Let It Be, will see a limited release in 1,000 cinemas across North America, and will then be released on streaming services and home media. The book has essentially been 55 years in the making and first took hold when Nicholas Callaway, the publisher’s founder, and c.e.o., saw the band perform live at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York to for the variety show, which attracted 70 million viewers, the largest ever at the time. Callaway has been an enormous Beatles fan ever since, and said the band “is the great touchstone for me of the role of art and communicating positive messages in this world, forming the essence of what creativity can be.”
As The Bookseller reports, The Beatles Anthology was the last official Beatles book to be published, and was released 20 years ago in 2000 and included a video and six CDs. The $60 book, published by Chronicle under Apple, was a huge success, selling approximately 2 million copies across the globe. “Ever since then I’ve been knocking on their [Apple Corps] door, and we are very honoured to be their publisher [for Let It Be]. They chose us over every other major publisher,” said Callaway, though the exact size of the deal has not been revealed.
Jackson’s film is being created from over 55 hours of unseen footage recorded during the making of Let It Be, which was originally shot by Michael Lindsay-Hogg in 1969. Jackson also has access to around 140 hours of unheard audio recordings from the final album’s sessions.
Callaway has said that the upcoming project has thrown doubt on the idea that The Beatles ended their journey in a bitter break-up. “It’s a joyous story,” he said. “It’s a very happy story about four geniuses gathering together in complete creative collaboration and making one last hurrah after changing the world through their music.”
The book is described as a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ experience of the creation of The Beatles’ final album. The 240-page book is primarily made up of transcripts edited by journalist, writer, and critic John Harris. Readers will also have access to 200 photos, taken by Linda Eastman, who went on to marry Paul McCartney, as well as pictures taken by Ethan Russell, who Callaway describes as being lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. The book also features restored film stills printed on, what Callaway describes as “the most beautiful uncoated paper ever made”, Mohawk Superfine, and shows how the book and the film are as one.
Let It Be has become one of The Beatles’ most popular albums, and was recorded during an uncertain time for the world. Globally, it was a time of great strife, with the Vietnam war, civil rights movements, and political chaos. Despite this, Let It Be was an album about peace and positivity. “We think it’s uncanny that 50 years later we have this opportunity through the books, the film and the re-release of the album to re-introduce this great creative achievement at a time when the world is maybe turned even more upside down,” Callaway said.
No doubt we will hear more about the ambitious project as its release date draws closer. An extensive promotional campaign is planned, as Callaway said: “We are going to give it our all. It’s a great project and we hope to make the world a little happier.”