By James Hamilton
** BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week ** 'Compulsively readable - the pages seem to turn themselves' John Carey, Sunday Times 'Brings one of the very greatest [artists] vividly to life' Literary Review Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) lived as if electricity shot through his sinews and crackled at his finger ends. He was a gentle and empathetic family man, but had a volatility that could lead him to slash his paintings, and a loose libidinous way of speaking, writing and behaving that shocked many deeply. He would be dynamite in polite society today.In this exhilarating new biography - the first in decades - James Hamilton reveals Gainsborough in his many contexts: the easy-going Suffolk lad, transported to the heights of fashion by a natural talent; the rake-on-the-make in London, learning his art in the shadow of Hogarth; falling on his feet when he married a duke's daughter with a handsome private income; the top society-portrait painter in Bath and London who earned huge sums by bringing the right people into his studio; the charming and amusing friend of George III and Queen Charlotte who nevertheless kept clear of the aristocratic embrace.There has been much art history written about this chameleon of art, but with fresh insights into original sources, Gainsborough: A Portrait transforms our understanding of this fascinating man, and enlightens the century that bore him.
By Ray Connolly
What was it like to be Elvis Presley? What did it feel like when impossible fame made him its prisoner? As the world's first rock star there was no one to tell him what to expect, no one with whom he could share the burden of being himself - of being Elvis.On the outside he was all charm, sex appeal, outrageously confident on stage and stunningly gifted in the recording studio. To his fans he seemed to have it all. He was Elvis. With his voice and style influencing succeeding generations of musicians, he should have been free to sing any song he liked, to star in any film he was offered, and to tour in any country he chose. But he wasn't free. The circumstances of his poor beginnings in the American South, which, as he blended gospel music with black rhythm and blues and white country songs, helped him create rock and roll, had left him with a lifelong vulnerability. Made rich and famous beyond his wildest imaginings when he mortgaged his talent to the machinations of his manager, 'Colonel' Tom Parker, there would be an inevitable price to pay. Though he daydreamed of becoming a serious film actor, instead he grew to despise his own movies and many of the songs he had to sing in them. He could have rebelled. But he didn't. Why? In the Seventies, as the hits rolled in again, and millions of fans saw him in a second career as he sang his way across America, he talked of wanting to tour the world. But he never did. What was stopping him?BEING ELVIS takes a clear-eyed look at the most-loved entertainer ever, and finds an unusual boy with a dazzling talent who grew up to change popular culture; a man who sold a billion records and had more hits than any other singer, but who became trapped by his own frailties in the loneliness of fame.
Last of the Giants
By Mick Wall
INCLUDES BRAND NEW CHAPTER COVERING GUNS N' ROSES EPIC WORLD TOURMany millions of words have already been written about Guns N' Roses, the old line-up, the new line-up. But none of them have ever really gotten to the truth. Which is this: Guns N' Roses has always been a band out of time, the Last of the Giants. They are what every rock band since the Rolling Stones has tried and nearly always failed to be: dangerous. At a time when smiling, MTV-friendly, safe-sex, just-say-no Bon Jovi was the biggest band in the world, here was a band that seemed to have leapt straight out of the coke-smothered pages of the original, golden-age, late-sixties rock scene.'Live like a suicide', the band used to say when they all lived together in the Hell House, their notorious LA home. And this is where Mick Wall first met them, and became part of their inner circle, before famously being denounced by name by Axl Rose in the song 'Get in the Ring'.But this book isn't about settling old scores. Written with the clear head that 25 years later brings you, this is a celebration of Guns N' Roses the band, and of Axl Rose the frontman who really is that thing we so desperately want him to be: the last of the truly extraordinary, all-time great, no apologies, no explanations, no giving-a-shit rock stars. The last of his kind.
The Most Beautiful
By Mayte Garcia
In The Most Beautiful, a title inspired by the hit song Prince wrote about their legendary love story, Mayte Garcia for the first time shares the deeply personal story of their relationship and offers a singular perspective on the music icon and their world together: from their unconventional meeting backstage at a concert (and the long-distance romance that followed), to their fairy-tale wedding (and their groundbreaking artistic partnership), to the devastating losses that ultimately dissolved their romantic relationship for good. Throughout it all, they shared a bond more intimate than any other in Prince's life. No one else can tell this story or can provide a deeper, more nuanced portrait of Prince--both the famously private man and the pioneering, beloved artist--than Mayte, his partner during some of the most pivotal personal and professional years of his career. The Most Beautiful is a book that will be returned to for decades, as Prince's music lives on with generations to come.
By Mick Wall
Prince was an icon. A man who defined an era of music and changed the shape of popular culture forever. There is no doubt that he was one of the most talented and influential artists of all time, and also one of the most mysterious. On 21st April 2016 the world lost its Prince; it was the day the music died.This book will open a door to Prince's world like never before - from his traumatic childhood and demonic pursuit of music as a means of escape, to his rise to superstardom, professional rivalries and marriages shrouded in tragedy, internationally bestselling music writer Mick Wall explores the historical, cultural and personal backdrop that gave rise to an artist the likes of which the world has never seen - and never will again.Mick, a lifelong Prince fan, was one of the first UK journalists to ever write about this enigmatic star, and it was his story that put Prince on the cover of Kerrang magazine in 1984 and inspired the biggest mailbag of letters the magazine has ever had. As Prince sang in '7', 'no one in the whole universe will ever compare', and this book is a shining tribute to the forever incomparable Prince.
By Lindy Woodhead
War Paint is the story of two extraordinary women, Miss Elizabeth Arden and Madame Helena Rubinstein, and the legacy they left: a story of feminine vanity and marketing genius. Behind the gloss and glamour lay obsession with business and rivalry with each other. Despite working for over six decades in the same business, these two geniuses never met face to face - until now. 'The definitive biography of women and their relationships to their faces in the twentieth century' Linda Grant, Guardian'I have seldom enjoyed a book so much . . . the research is staggering . . . a wonderful read' Lulu Guinness
By Mick Wall
In 'The Ace of Spades', Motörhead's most famous song, Lemmy, the born-to-lose, live-to-win frontman of the band sang, 'I don't want to live forever'. Yet as he told his friend of 35 years, former PR and biographer Mick Wall, 'Actually, I want to go the day before forever. To avoid the rush...'. This is his strange but true story. Brutally frank, painfully funny, wincingly sad, and always beautifully told, LEMMY: THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY is the story of the only rock'n'roller never to sell his soul for silver and gold, while keeping the devil, as he put it, 'very close to my side'. From school days growing up in North Wales, to first finding fame in the mid-60s with the Rockin' Vicars; from being Jimi Hendrix's personal roadie ('I would score acid for him'), to leading Hawkwind to the top of the charts in 1972 with 'Silver Machine' ('I was fired for taking the wrong drugs'); from forming Motörhead ('I wanted to call the band Bastard but my manager wouldn't let me'), whose iconoclastic album NO SLEEP 'TIL HAMMERSMITH entered the UK charts at No. 1.Based on Mick's original interviews with Lemmy conducted over numerous years, along with the insights of those who knew him best - former band mates, friends, managers, fellow artists and record business insiders - this is an unputdownable story of one of Britain's greatest characters. As Lemmy once said of Wall, 'Mick Wall is one of the few rock writers in the world who can actually write and seems to know anything about rock music. I can and do talk to him for hours - poor bastard.' With the hard part of his journey now over, Lemmy is set to become a legend. LEMMY: THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY explains exactly how that came to be.
By Jo Berry
For all the Superwoman fans out there, this is the ultimate unofficial guide to Lilly Singh and Unicorn Island!Jam-packed with everything you need to be a part of Team Super, this book is filled with Lilly's top tips on dating, Superwoman motivation, YouTube, restyling your bedroom and getting Lilly's unique look with her hair and beauty tutorials.From her early life in Toronto to her world tour and life in LA, get to know Lilly's friends and collabs, her superheroes and her super rants like never before. From puzzles and challenges to Lilly's favourite catchphrases and her unicorn inspo for finding your happy place, this book is a must-have fan book for Superwomen everywhere!
The John Lennon Letters
By John Lennon, Hunter Davies
A lifetime of letters, collected for the first time, from the legendary The Beatles musician and songwriter John LennonJohn Lennon is one of the world's greatest-ever song writers, creator of 'Help!', 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds', 'Imagine' and dozens more. Now, his letters have been collected and published, illuminating as never before the intimate side of a private genius.Hunter Davies, author of the only authorised biography of The Beatles, has tracked down almost three hundred of Lennon's letters and postcards - to relations, friends, fans, strangers, lovers and even to the laundry. Some of the letters are tender, informative, funny, angry and abusive, and some are simply heart-breaking - from his earliest surviving thank-you note, written when he was ten, to his last scribbled autograph given on 8 December 1980, the day he was shot, aged forty.
By Michael Coveney
'Coveney is the only writer who could get under Smith's skin, capturing her steeliness and vulnerability' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAYFrom her days as a star of West End comedy and revue, Dame Maggie's path has led to international renown and numerous accolades including two Academy Awards. Recently she has been as prominent on our screens as ever, with high-profile roles as the formidable Dowager Countess of Grantham in DOWNTON ABBEY, as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the HARRY POTTER movie franchise and as the eccentric Miss Shepherd in the film version of THE LADY IN THE VAN by Alan Bennett. Paradoxically she remains an enigmatic figure, rarely appearing in public and carefully guarding her considerable talent. Drawing on personal archives, interviews and encounters with the actress, as well as conversations with immediate family and dear friends, Michael Coveney's biography is a captivating portrait of the real Maggie Smith.
Getcha Rocks Off
By Mick Wall
Hanging out with rock stars, trying to steal their chicks, or throwing up over their guitars after launching into the hospitality a little too enthusiastically, Mick Wall spent much of the 1980s sprawled in limos and five-star hotels with the biggest rock bands in the world, including Led Zeppelin, Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Mötley Crüe, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Van Halen, Motörhead and more. He was Kerrang! magazine's star writer and the presenter of Monsters of Rock, his own weekly show on Sky TV, and the decade passed in a blur of hard drugs, hot women, and some of the heaviest people your mother definitely would not like. Depicting a world where vague concepts like 'the future' are disdained in favour of nights that last a week and weeks that last forever, Getcha Rocks Off is a rock apocalypse Cider With Roadies, and a more frank and disturbing Apathy for the Devil. It is the kind of book you need to put on your leather jacket to read, open that bottle of Jack and reach for the Charlie. And let the good times roll...
Going Off Alarming
By Danny Baker
The dazzlingly funny second volume of Danny Baker's memoirs: the television years.Since my first book was published I have had countless friends and family members get in touch to say how come I hadn't included this story or that tale. Was I ashamed of being shot twice, once up the arse, in Jamaica Road? How long should a man live with such a secret? If by retrospectively dropping my trousers every few pages I can reveal a fuller picture of myself during these years, then so be it.Besides. Being shot up the arse. In front of your mates.What else did I forget?
By Peter Guralnick
Rock 'n' roll was born in rural Alabama, 1923, in the form of Sam Phillips, the youngest son of a large family living in a remote colony called the Lovelace Community. His father had a gift for farming, which was brought to an end by the Depression. His mother picked guitar and showed the kind of forbearance that allowed her to name her son after the doctor who delivered him drunk and then had to be put to bed himself. And yet from these unprepossessing origins, in 1951 Phillips made what is widely considered to be the first rock 'n' roll record, Ike Turner and Jackie Brenston's 'Rocket 88'. Just two years later a shy eighteen-year-old kid with sideburns, fresh out of high school, wandered into his recording studio to make a record 'for his mother', secretly hoping that it might somehow get him noticed. His name was Elvis Presley. Elvis's success, and the subsequent triumph of rock 'n' roll, was initially propelled to an almost astonishing degree by a limited number of releases by Carl 'Blue Suede Shoes' Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis - all from this tiny, one-man label. An engaging mix of biography and anecdote, Peter Guralnick's book brilliantly recreates one shining moment in the history of popular culture. And Sam Phillips was the man who brought it all about.