If I could be any Beatle, at any time, I would be Paul McCartney in his Wimpole St years, living with Jane Asher and her family…

Think you know all about the Beatles? Wait till you read this mesmerising biography of Britain’s greatest band – by Britain’s greatest critic…

‘OK, there’s no more booze,’ said John Lennon. ‘Let’s talk about sex Jane,’ before asking her a creepily intrusive question.

The Beatles had first met Jane Asher, the 16-year-old actress and TV personality, backstage at the Royal Albert Hall that afternoon. The group were in awe of her, perhaps Paul most of all: ‘We had a photo taken with her and we all fancied her. We’d thought she was blonde, because we’ve only ever seen her on black-and-white telly doing Juke Box Jury, but she turned out to be a redhead.’

Now Jane and the four Beatles, plus Shane Fenton – later Alvin Stardust – and a few others, were at a tiny flat in the King’s Road. Lennon had found a bottle of amphetamines and washed them down with Mateus rosé. Charged up, he became aggressive towards Jane. For John, thwarted sexual attraction could sometimes shrivel into spite.

‘I’m not going to talk about that,’ said Jane, shocked but cool.

‘You’re the only girl here and I want to know.’

‘You know, John, you can be very cruel sometimes,’ said Jane. She started crying and was comforted by George Harrison.

‘It’s the beast in me,’ replied Lennon.

Paul ushered Jane out of the room and away from John.

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