As a writer for Melody Maker, Ray Coleman was a widely read music journalist in Britain at the time the "beat boom," or the British Invasion as it's known in the U.S., took off in 1963. He was one of the first writers to give national coverage to the Beatles, who appreciated him as one of the relatively few reporters at the time who would discuss their music as well as their celebrity. Coleman got to travel with the Beatles often during Beatlemania, and wrote about them throughout the '60s. It was to Coleman (then editor of Disc), in fact, that John Lennon revealed in early 1969 that, "if Apple goes on losing money at this rate, we'll all be broke in six months." Paul McCartney then berated Coleman for reporting the remark, although Lennon hadn't told Coleman it was off the record. This was one of the many incidents in 1969 that caused tension within the group as they started to head toward their famous split. Coleman's personal experiences with the Beatles and their circle provided good background and source material for two lengthy Beatles-related biographies, one on Brian Epstein, and one on John Lennon. The Lennon bio can be seen as a sort of gentle corrective to Albert Goldman's famous and scurrilous tome on the same subject. If Goldman erred by going too far in one direction, it could also be argued that Coleman went too far in the other. He painted a beneficent portrait of the artist that did not go too deeply into his darkest side, though it was more realistic and accurate than Goldman's book. Coleman also wrote straightforward biographies of the Carpenters and Eric Clapton, and collaborated with Bill Wyman on his autobiography. He also served as editor in chief of Melody Maker for 11 years, and wrote on popular music for numerous papers and magazines.
by Richie Unterberger