Word podcast 272 – Johnny Rogan and Sid Griffin on the extraordinary story of the Byrds

Johnny Rogan almost didn’t make it to this Word In Your Ear. He was so absorbed in a discussion about biography with friend of the podcast Mark Lewisohn that he had a small traffic accident that almost sidelined him for the evening. Anyway, he made it and brought along both volumes of his mammoth new account of their complex career. To help tell their story we were also delighted to welcome another friend of the pod Sid Griffin. It’s all here: the folk revival, Swinging London, psychedelia, square glasses, country music, personality conflicts and some very sad ends.

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Word podcast 271 – Sarfraz Manzoor and David Hepworth think Bruce Springsteen could use the publicity

Usually our guests are talking about freshly-published books. It’s actually ten years since Sarfraz Manzoor put out Greetings From Bury Park, his memoir about growing up in a traditional Pakistani family in Luton with an obsession with Bruce Springsteen.

With the prospect of the story being transferred to the screen in the offing, Sarfraz came along to talk to David Hepworth about how he found parallels between Springsteen’s songs and the challenges he faced in his life and how his desire to identify with the Boss led him into the odd unfortunate fashion choice. At the same time the two of them talk about Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born To Run as it comes out in paperback, because, face it, he could use the royalties.

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Word podcast 270 – David Hepworth on “Uncommon People: The Rise And Fall Of The Rock Stars”

We loved them because they could do things we could never do. We adopted them as our fantasy friends when we were teenagers and were still measuring ourselves against them forty years after. David Hepworth talks about his best-selling book “Uncommon People” which traces the history of the cult of the rock star from Little Richard to Kurt Cobain.

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Word Podcast 269 – Thomas Dolby on the most varied career in pop and technology

Thomas Dolby’s career has seen him sharing a helicopter with a terrified David Bowie over Wembley Stadium, labouring on the nightshift at a New York studio in search of noises that Foreigner might like and dropping in on Michael Jackson at home in the days before scandal consumed him. All this and a good deal more is in his memoir The Speed Of Sound which also covers his pop success and his adventures at the heart of the great Internet revolution. He came to Islington to talk to Mark Ellen and David Hepworth all about it.

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Word Podcast 268 – John Ingham on the early days of punk rock when his was the only camera in the room

Pic: David Lloyd Jones

John Ingham used to sign himself Jonh Ingham when he covered the very early stirrings of punk rock in 1976 for Sounds. Although he was a writer by trade he took along his camera because literally nobody else was taking pictures and he recognised that early punk was above all things colourful. Forty years later he’s got those pictures out from storage and published them in a fabulous new book called Spirit Of 76: London Punk Eyewitness, which has pictures of all the key players – the Sex Pistols, Clash, Siouxsie, Generation X and Subway Sect – in the last days before they were household names. It’s an extraordinary document. The book comes with an introduction from Jon Savage and a commentary from John himself. He came along to the Islington to tell us about the year it all happened.

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Word Podcast 267 – Miranda Sawyer and Barry McIlheney on the unique magic of Smash Hits

David Hepworth started at Smash Hits in the late 70s, Mark Ellen joined in the early 80s, Barry McIlheney arrived in the middle of the decade and Miranda Sawyer came along in the late 80s. Therefore they were well placed to talk about such key Smash Hits experiences as being pinned to a door by Jimmy Pursey, taking Bananarama to Burger King, asking U2 to draw a duck and getting a bit tired and going home halfway through a Stone Roses interview. All this and more in this bumper ish.

Brian McCloskey’s Smash Hits archive.

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Word Podcast 266 – Tom Doyle on Elton Hercules John, the artist formerly known as Reggie at the piano

Captain Fantastic” is Tom Doyle’s account of Elton’s most tumultuous decade, the 70s, during which time he assumed every role from bedsitter poet to intercontinental hell raiser, from singing frontiersman to singing hornet, from Pinner to Philly and back. He came along to Word In Your Ear to talk to us about the eternal puzzle that is Elton.

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Word Podcast 265 David “Ram Jam” Rodigan on ranking for fun and profit

There’s a rich British tradition of well brought up young men from the leafier suburbs developing a fixation on music from a very different culture and somehow getting themselves a job playing said music on the radio. Nobody has done it more successfully and more unexpectedly than David Rodigan. For a part of the career he’s run it alongside his work as an actor. No wonder there’s so much interest in turning his book “My Life In Reggae” into a film. It’s a story rich in humour and packed with incident, some of which he recounted to Mark Ellen and David Hepworth.

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Word Podcast 264 – Tessa Niles and Gina Foster talking BVs

We were delighted to be joined by two of the UK’s most respected providers of backing vocals and harmonies, who between them have sung with everybody from David Bowie at Live Aid on down. They showed us aspects of their vocal techniques, instructed us in the diplomatic arts required to rub along on tour when the members of the band aren’t speaking to each other and explain why the wordless refrain has gone the way of the whalebone corset. You can find the full story in Tessa’s book “Backtrack”.

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Word Podcast 263 – Jon Savage

In this shortcast Jon Savage talks to David Hepworth about his new compilation album, “1967 – The Year Pop Divided”. Forty-eight tracks of psych-flavoured pop, rock and soul from the last year before music went off into its own ghettoes, from the Byrds to Captain Beefheart, from Rex Garvin and the Mighty Cravers to the Shag, from the Thirteenth Floor Elevators to Gladys Knight and the Pips, from the Monkees to The Mickey Finn. “Do the lyrics have anything in common? Yes. Drugs.”