“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.
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.
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”.
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.”
In which Jeff Evans returns from researching the full history of “Rock and Pop On British TV” for his new book and talks to Mark Ellen and David Hepworth about not just “Six Five Special” but also “Cool For Cats”, not just Legs and Co but also Ruby Flipper, not just “The Tube” but also “The White Room”, and wonders whether, now that we have YouTube, we have finally come to the end of music television as a genre.
In which Paul Gambaccini, that son of New York who became an institution of British broadcasting, talks to Mark Ellen and David Hepworth about how the Beatles changed his life, how he got into broadcasting, what brought him to Britain, his experience of Radio One in the 70s, his recent ordeal at the hands of the Metropolitan police – fully documented in an amazing book Love, Paul Gambaccini – and how this experience has changed his view of the BBC and the Labour Party but not the British people. It’s an extraordinary listen, one that goes the full distance from hilarity to horror.
In which Mick Houghton, the author of a book about the legendary folk-rock label Elektra, and Adam White, the man behind a huge tome about the history of Motown, talk to David Hepworth about the unique challenges faced by independent labels, the charismatic men who founded them, the occasionally difficult stars they had to deal with and what keeps both Jac Holzman and Berry Gordy going at an age when most people are happy just to look at their great-grandchildren.
In which Richard Houghton, the author of I Was There, a collection of first-hand reminiscences from people who saw the Beatles back in the sixties, from under-attended dance halls in England to over flowing stadia in the United States, talks to David Hepworth about how he wrinkled out their stories.