When I was a kid, my favourite song was “Twist and Shout.” I loved A Hard Day’s Night as a teenager and always thought The Rolling Stones were so cool. Living during the ’60s and ’70s must have been so exciting, but being in the bands inner circle must have been spectacular.

Such was the case of Chris O’Dell, a young American, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. When Chris met Derek Taylor of A&M Records in Los Angeles she was in awe of his connection to her favourite band, The Beatles. Months later she packed up and moved to London, hoping to secure a permanent position at Apple Corps. From cutting out news clippings to answering telephones, Chris kept herself busy and eventually was hired.

At Apple Corps., Chris became close to George Harrison, who offered her a job at his new home with Pattie Boyd. Living at Friar Park, Chris was freezing (they had no heat) but excited to be living with her idol, Pattie. Chris thought Pattie was beautiful and applied her makeup so perfectly, and they quickly became friends. Pattie learned to trust Chris because she was one of the few women loyal enough to Pattie not to engage in an affair with her husband.

One friend of Pattie’s without loyalty was Maureen, the wife of Ringo Starr. Chris O’Dell was sitting with George Harrison, Pattie Boyd, Maureen and Ringo when George announced “You know, Ringo, I’m in love with your wife” (263).

But O’Dell was no saint; when Ringo needed space from Maureen and visited Chris, they engaged in an affair of their own. Ringo even wrote a song for O’Dell (275), but his didn’t quite make the mark George Harrison’s did, the aptly titled “Miss O’Dell.” When George sang “Miss O’Dell” to Chris, she was dumbstruck. “He played the last chord, hands still on the guitar, and laughed. He knew full well what it meant to have a Beatle write a song about you, and he was getting a big kick out of my stupefied reaction” (190). Later, when O’Dell toured with Queen, the song “Miss O’Dell” gave her cred with Roger Taylor.

Being best friends with Pattie Boyd brought her close to another man, Eric Clapton, who didn’t enjoy Chris’ company like the Beatles had. Waiting to be with his “Layla” for years made Eric jealous of people who took Pattie away from him; and because Chris and Pattie were so close, he felt enraged by her. “Eric was possessive of [Pattie] and jealous of me, and I realized that I’d never felt like a third wheel with George, who had always treated me like part of the family, a ‘sister,’ as Pattie sometimes called me. With Eric I felt more like a distant cousin, someone he had to put up with for Pattie’s sake” (287).

Although Chris was always a “Beatles girl,” she worked with many music acts, including The Rolling Stones. In 1971, O’Dell became the personal assistant to the Stones. From writing out Mick Jagger’s song lyrics to keeping Keith Richards company, O’Dell did it all. And being so close to the band gave her interesting insights, O’Dell writes, “[Keith Richards] could be terribly insecure. A few weeks earlier he had asked me to listen to his song ‘Happy.’ ‘Do you think it’s okay?’ he asked me, clearly nervous about my reaction… What a paradox Keith was-a sweet, sensitive soul who wrote songs about needing love to be happy and yet he lived his life as if he couldn’t give a shit about anything” (213).

However, O’Dell has Mick Jagger to thank for actually touring with them. Jagger needed his Ossie Clark stage outfits delivered from London and wanted Chris to bring them to Chicago. “‘You wanted to come on tour, didn’t you?’ he said, with that sly hint of mischief in his voice. I knew what he was thinking. See Chris? I found a way to get you here” (216).

As if The Beatles and The Rolling Stones weren’t enough, O’Dell toured with the great Bob Dylan. Not only that, she even danced with the soulful poet. “I put out my hand and he pulled me close, his arm around my waist, holding me tight. I literally felt the room spinning, for in that moment I feared that all my professional rules were at risk, especially my One Big Rule about romances on tour: never get involved with the Big Guy” (337).

Miss O’Dell tells the extraordinary story of a woman who knew some of music’s greats, battled with drug addiction, and married aristocracy. It is an incredible page-turner for those who always wanted to be in music’s “inner circle.” As the cover writes, “Chris O’Dell wasn’t famous. She wasn’t even almost famous. But she was there.”

Miss O’Dell; My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and the Women They Loved by Chris O’Dell with Katherine Ketcham is $34 Canadian/$26 U.S.