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.
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.
“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 Tony Fletcher tells us about Wilson Pickett, who was impossible as a child, inimitable as a singer and incorrigible as a success, and how he came to write “In The Midnight Hour”.
The perfect “In The Midnight Hour”.
He couldn’t improve on it. Not even with Bruce Springsteen…
Here he is with Duane Allman on “Hey Jude”.
In which Barney Hoskyns talks to us about Woodstock and the part it played in the lives of Dylan, the Band, Albert Grossman and Van Morrison, as related in his book “Small Town Talk”.
Here’s the Bobby Charles record that gave the book its name.
Here’s the Band rehearsing in Woodstock back in the day
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.