• Fab: The Intimate Life of Paul McCartney

  • By: Howard Sounes
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 25 hrs and 37 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (140 ratings)

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Fab: The Intimate Life of Paul McCartney

By: Howard Sounes
Narrated by: David Thorpe
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Publisher's Summary

He is the proud torchbearer of the Beatles, the greatest band in the history of popular music, and one of the most closely-studied artists in show business, yet secrets and surprises remain in the life of Sir Paul McCartney. The full story is told in Fab.

Howard Sounes, author of the acclaimed Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, spent more than two years investigating every aspect of Sir Paul’s life and work, including interviewing over 200 people. The result is the richest, most detailed, and most comprehensive biography of McCartney yet written.

Unlike previous biographers, the author pays equal attention to the story of McCartney in the Beatles and the ongoing story of his post-Beatles career, creating an engrossing history that spans the long arc of this great artist’s life and work. Fab also includes the full, fascinating story of Sir Paul’s calamitous second marriage to Heather Mills. Sounes proves a judicious critic of the music, while also delivering a superb psychological portrait of the man behind some of the world’s most beloved songs.

Howard Sounes is known for writing detailed and revelatory biographies of a wide range of extraordinary personalities, including the murderers Fred and Rosemary West (Fred & Rose), the writer Charles Bukowski (Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life), and the musicians Bob Dylan (Down the Highway) and Lou Reed (Notes from the Velvet Underground). Each book is based on extensive original research. For more information, visit www.howardsounes.com

©2010 Howard Sounes (P)2014 Audible Studios

Critic Reviews

"For fans willing to ponder their hero’s flaws, Fab delivers all you need to know." ( Rolling Stone)
"A McCartney biography that intrigues all the way through." ( The (London) Times)

What listeners say about Fab: The Intimate Life of Paul McCartney

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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fascinating biography

As a follower of the Beatles since the 1960s I really enjoyed this biography of Paul. Howard Sounes' detailed research is impressive, and I learned a lot about Paul the man, his relationships with the other Beatles, with family and friends and with other musos. The early days centred on sex drugs and rock'n'roll which became a little tedious, but once Linda arrived on the scene the focus changed and a mature and more interesting Paul emerged. Naturally the length of the book means a lot of characters and a lot of detail, but it held my interest from start to finish. I ended up seeing Paul as a decent and caring man and liking him for the person he is rather than liking his music and admiring him as a star. At the end I had just one question - why didn't Paul learn to write music? With so much musical apptitude and talent, his life might have been easier if he'd been able to jot down music as it came to him instead of waiting for a professional to do it for him. The book is well written, and David Thorpe does a great job of narration - right voice for the job and good with accents.

11 people found this helpful

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Quite Long But Good..

This is quite strong on detail for his post Beatle years. Overall, it is an excellent account of rock music's most enduring star.

I can't believe how much Paul has done in his career. The story is actually is actually quite epic in its length, but it managed to hold my interest over the 26 hours.

10 people found this helpful

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Nothing new here

Any additional comments?

If you're new to Paul McCartney, don't know much about him, this will be a very informative book. But if you've been following him for years, it's pretty much a rehash of everything else you've ever read. I didn't appreciate the author's critiques of McCartney's music. That's so subjective, and if he thought it made him seem unbiased, it didn't. I would rather have read an analysis of other professional criticism.

4 people found this helpful

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Does what it says on the tin. Good performance too

I know a fair bit about the Beatles, but decided I didn't really know too much about Macca himself. If you've got the albums/watched the Anthology series, there'll be nothing that astounding about the years leading up to the end of the Fab Four, but, for a rather lengthy tome, it went by in a breeze for me.

As for the performance, generally speaking I'm not a fan of someone doing all the voices in a non-fictional tale; for instance, when a man lighten's his voice a little and puts on an American accent, I'm still a long way from believing they actually got Linda McCartney in to do her own parts. That all said, Thorpe does a pretty good Macca impression, and has a decent grasp on a range of British accents. The American ones were less convincing for me, and the non-native English languages seemed a bit...much. That all said, I started to find them all charming after a while. (This in contrast with Elton John's autobiography, which I found almost unlistenable because of Taron Egerton's wildly over the top performance, Or Louis Theroux's borderline offensive accents he adopted for his own book).

I tend to switch between audio and text when I can - a 26 hour audiobook is not something I often think I'll stick with. However, I made it all the way through this one, both performance and story complementing each other nicely. Would definitely read/listen to another by both Thorpe and Sounes.

2 people found this helpful

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Good balance of facts

Like most Beatles fans, there's a fine line about knowing too much and not enough. I think this book strikes a nice balance.

2 people found this helpful

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  • H.
  • 11-19-14

True to the Title

What made the experience of listening to Fab: The Intimate Life of Paul McCartney the most enjoyable?

I just got done listening to the audiobook. This book is long which required a devotion to getting it done. If you are a big Paul McCartney fan, you will find this book is worth the listen. It's very good and gives good insight to the man and his character, some good and some not so good. The narrator did a good job of telling the story and doing imitations of Paul McCartney speaking.

I highly recommend this book.

2 people found this helpful

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you think you know someone.

In the end it's all about the music. 60 years later I learned who they really were, and I 'm not sure if knowing them intimately changes my admiration of their music!

1 person found this helpful

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New Bits Aren't Good and Good Bits Aren't New

Well-written and well-researched, but there is little that won't be familiar to most fans of McCartney and that band he played bass for. There was greater detail of Linda's death, which was heartbreaking, and way too much detail about Paul's second marriage, but I guess both are part of McCartney's story. It's worth listening to, despite the author being an obvious devotee of John Lennon, like so many who have fallen for the Martin Luther Lennon image Yoko has created in place of what John Lennon was actually like.

1 person found this helpful

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LIKE A BAD TABLOID

A negative, badly read look at a great musician. Read the Philp Norman instead. Terrible

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Very opinionated

Focuses on sex and money. Payoffs. With lots of the ignorant author’s opinions about the songs

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  • C. N. TURNER
  • 07-30-15

Thanks for the memories

I enjoyed every minute, having met The Beatles whilst they were shopping in a Woolworth store in 1963 and spoke to Paul I have always thought he was a genuine guy. The biography certainly hasn't changed my opinion.
Thank you Howard Sounes for writing this and David Thorpe for bringing it alive.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Bim
  • 01-23-15

So good and so interesting.

It's great how the author rolls through the timeline of Paul's life with such ease. And how it's not all "oh look at how great paul is".... In parts, he doesn't hold back. If paul was a bit of a dick at a certain time, he tells you.

The reader is top notch, the man with a 1000 voices. Brilliant

Even though I knew most of the stories, it's great to listen to them from start to finish in the proper order along with the views from close friends and family..................................................

4 people found this helpful

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  • Dean O'Leary
  • 07-18-16

A must if you're a Beatle fan

Whilst lots of books out there cover McCartney's life during the Beatle years it was interesting to hear about his life post this period , most notably with Wings and his subsequent solo material. What made this really enjoyable was the narration by David Thorpe and the accents he used for the characters albeit at times a little stereotypical but great to listen to.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Steve K
  • 05-02-16

Brilliant. A must for Beatles or McCartney fans

A great listen.

I'm a hard-core Beatle fan and thought I'd heard and read everything but still found out plenty of new things in this book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 06-20-15

Interesting

Took a bit of getting used to as narrator didn't seem as easy on the ear as the book about john but warmed to him in the end. Couldn't understand why the author decided to refer to Ringo as Richie but then occasionally did call him Ringo so I sometimes found myself wondering who Riche was.

Overall good unbiased summary of Paul's life.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tom
  • 02-06-17

All you ever wanted to know and a great deal more.

This is a huge piece of work. I stuck with this audiobook to the bitter end, but in retrospect, I can't say it's left me feeling I enjoyed it all that much. It very much underlines how much McCartney has done since The Beatles, but sadly, and perhaps predictably, much of it is far less interesting. Long stories of legal battles, personal relationships gone bad etc don't really do it for me in a book like this - or certainly, not at the length to which this book plays them out. Disappointing, although nevertheless good value in this format.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rob McIvor
  • 02-18-21

A mixed bag

If you've always suspected that McCartney was both a great talent and a bit of a ****, this book will probably confirm that view. It's exhaustively researched - although it's pretty obvious that the author had no access to its subject and most of the people who were willing to talk had scores to settle - but could have done with being cut to about half the length as it often becomes bogged down in irrelevant details. In particular, there is far too much about McCartney's divorce from Heather Mills, in which the author seems to take a prurient interest. You'll also learn a great deal about the younger McCartney's active sex life while supposedly being devoted to Jane Asher and almost as much about Linda McCartney's lengthy track record before finally bedding a Beatle. Probably more than you would want to know about either.

The author also makes some strange assertions about McCartney's music - describing Abbey Road as The Beatles' finest album, for example, or dismissing Pipes of Peace without acknowledging that it produced McCartney's only solo UK No 1. On the other hand, the accounts of McCartney's studio antics during the 70s and 80s go a long way to explaining why his output during those years was so erratic. And the story of "Give My Regards to Broad Street" encapsulates everything about why even a supremely talented artist needs someone (Lennon and Martin in the 60s) to help him with quality control.

It's also worth noting that the 'story' ends just after the Mills divorce.

Narration is good, apart from a few dodgy accents. The most irritating thing, however, is that every time an amount of money is referred to, it is translated from sterling to dollars, or vice-versa. I'm not sure what that adds and it very quickly becomes annoying.

Overall, a decent companion piece to the pedestrian Philip Norman biography and the self-serving "Many Years from Now", but it could have done with a decent edit.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • maestro mozart piaf
  • 10-08-19

Paul a good friend

Enjoyed this book well written well narrated meet Paul a couple of times a nice man

1 person found this helpful

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  • Annette Budd
  • 06-18-18

Amazing Book!

This book was full to the brim with interesting information. Could not put it down - well narrated it really took you into the lives of Paul, Linda their colleagues, family and friends... loved it and would read it again!

1 person found this helpful

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  • les bell
  • 06-21-22

long but mostly worth it

I love the beatles but Macca tends to grate a bit. This was a warts and all telling of the story which simultaneously allowed me to increase my respect for the man and enjoy the not so flattering side of his personality.

The book was read well and the narrator coped with all the characters and accents, other reviews say that he didn't, trust me they are wrong.

The only character accent that was somewhat annoying was that of Paul himself. Not because it was done badly but just because he has quite an irritating voice and it crops up the most. It in no way takes anything from the experience of the book though.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Beatles lore. You can really get your teeth into it.

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  • Travis Partington
  • 02-09-18

A great insight into McCartney

Although this can be a bit harsh sometimes it does give you a lot of detail about Paul with Before and after the Beatles.

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  • mrmaccafan
  • 11-13-17

Tough but probably fair

Couldn't stop listening to it. As a massive fan the criticism of some of the songs was tough to listen to and in my opinion just plain wrong once or twice. However, it gave me further insight into a massive idol just weeks away from his first concerts in Australia in nearly a quarter of a decade.