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Web-Exclusive Book Review

Miss O'Dell: My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, and the Women They Loved

O'Dell's opus delivers some genuine scoops. She was at home with George Harrison on the April day in 1970 when he learned from London newspapers—along with the rest of the world—that his band was breaking up. She recalls a 1974 get-together at New York's Plaza Hotel where John and George reminisced about watching Beatlemaniacs storm that very establishment a decade earlier. We even get her take on Bob Dylan's mother, Beatrice "Beatty" Zimmerman, whom O'Dell met during the Rolling Thunder Revue tour in 1975. Unlike her disaffected son, O'Dell reports, Mrs. Zimmerman was "joyful… warm and affectionate… social and uninhibited."

Punctuating O'Dell's highs are some inevitable lows. In her later career as a tour manager, for example, she functioned as "everything from babysitter to mother, secretary, therapist, problem solver, travel agent, maid, and alarm clock." Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were prima donnas about their hotel accommodations, she reveals, and behaved as if they were "above the law." As for the Stones, O'Dell concluded that they were simply "a little too raw, too raunchy." As evidence, she cites the time they filmed an orgy aboard their private plane and afterward sent one of the compliant young women home, dazed and ashamed. And she deplores the male rock-star proclivity to make many women "just another nodding appendage."

The book's title comes from the song George Harrison wrote after Chris stood him up one night in Los Angeles. Released in 1973 as the B-side of Harrison's hit single "Give Me Love," the "Miss O'Dell" cut has since been largely forgotten. Chris O'Dell's fresh confessions should give it a new spin.

Charlie Clark, a Washington writer, says he would have accepted a job with the band.

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