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.
By Alan Parker
The last word on Sid Vicious - the world's most iconic punk figure.The old school register for Soho Parish Primary school has a note in the margin recording that five-year-old John Simon Ritchie turned up for his first day at school unaccompanied in September 1962. He'd walked from his mum's council flat near Drury Lane, across Covent Garden and several major road junctions to Gt Windmill Street alone. Somehow it's a fitting start to the wild and troubled life that would be Sid Vicious's. It's also a story that's indicative of the detailed research Alan Parker has put into this biography of Sid Vicious. He spent an evening discussing young Simon Ritchie's schooldays with the headmistress of Soho Parish, has interviewed the likes of fellow Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Glen Matlock at length, as well as numerous other punk luminaries. The basics of Sid Vicious's brief 21 years are well known: art school, junkie mother, life in a squat, a year in the Sex Pistols until their demise in 1978, Nancy Spungeon's death, Sid's arrest, followed by Sid's own fatal overdose on 2 February 1979. Parker brings a wealth of new detail to the story, much gained from the New York Police Department and extensive interviews with Anne Beverley (Sid's mother), prior to her own suicide in 1996. This enables him to come to dramatic conclusions about who killed Nancy Spungeon and how Sid himself died. This will be the definitive and final word on Sid Vicious, and the perfect tribute to a man who has become a true icon of the 21st century.