By Philip Norman
Eric Clapton is acknowledged to be rock's greatest virtuoso, the unrivalled master of its most essential tool, the solid-body electric guitar. Clapton transfigured three of the 1960s' most iconic bands, the Yardbirds, Cream and Blind Faith, walking away from each when it failed to measure up to his exacting standards. He was the only outsider be an honorary member of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and the studio musician of choice for solo superstars from Bob Dylan to Aretha Franklin.Yet even as a rock god in excelsis, his true passion was always the blues. Even his own blues heroes, the likes of Muddy Waters, B. B. King and Buddy Guy, would recognise the supremacy of this wispy white boy from the English county of Surrey.No life has been more rock 'n' roll than Clapton's in his epic consumption of drugs and alcohol, his insatiable appetite for expensive cars, clothes, and women - most famously revealed when he fell in love with Pattie Boyd, the wife of his best friend, George Harrison, and the inspiration for 'Layla'.With the benefit of unrestricted access to family members, close friends and fellow musicians, and his encyclopedic knowledge of sixties music and culture, Philip Norman has written the definitive portrait of the insecure, often pain-racked man.
The Story of NOW That's What I Call Music in 100 Artists
By Michael Mulligan
Everyone remembers their first NOW album. Since NOW That's What I Call Music Volume 1 was released in 1983 on double vinyl and double cassette, NOW has become synonymous with pop music and has featured some of the most iconic artists of the last three decades. To celebrate the release of the 100th NOW album, The Story of NOW That's What I Call Music in 100 Artists looks back at some of the most memorable - and occasionally regrettable - hits of the last 35 years! Jam packed with amazing facts and 'Well I never!' moments about the 4,000+ artists to have graced the NOW track listings - from Phil Collins to Pharrell, Bananarama to Lady Gaga and Peter Andre to Pet Shop Boys - The Story of NOW is a celebration of pop music through the decades. So plug in your earphones and pump up the volume, because this party is just getting started!
Some Fantastic Place
By Chris Difford
Longlisted for the Penderyn Music Book PrizeOver the course of a thirteen-album and multi-award-winning career with Squeeze, it was clear from the very beginning that Chris Difford has few peers when it comes to smart, pithy lyricism. In Some Fantastic Place, he charts his life from his childhood in south London to becoming a member of one of Britain's greatest bands and beyond. Along the way Chris reveals the inspiration and stories behind Squeeze's best-known songs, and his greatest highs and lows from over four decades of making music.
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 Ann Widdecombe
Forthright memoirs of a singular personality - former MP and STRICTLY COME DANCING star, Ann Widdecombe.With characteristic verve and integrity, Ann Widdecombe recalls her life and highlights the people and events that most influenced her along the way.From her early family life in Singapore and her convent school days to her student ambitions at Birmingham and Oxford, and her long-serving years as an MP, this is the life story of one of our most outspoken and celebrated politicians. Offering unique insight into her time as a Minister in three Departments and the Shadow Cabinet in the 1990s, Ann also explains the roots of her conversion to Catholicism in 1993 and her deeply held views on abortion and gay marriage.A rare anti-hunting Tory, who campaigned for prison education and once put on a miner's overalls to go down a coal mine, Ann Widdecombe has never been afraid of controversy. Her memoirs reveal a singular personality who lives life to the full. From feisty and witty appearances on Have I Got News For You to her unforgettable and star-turning performances on Strictly Come Dancing, Ann has earned her place in the public's affections and has been heralded as a 'national living treasure' by the Guardian.Also containing Ann's trenchant views on the Coalition, MPs' expenses and the state of the nation, this is a provocative and entertaining read. Frank, fearless and engaging, Ann's autobiography will delight her admirers and win her yet more fans.
Stieg and Me
By Eva Gabrielsson
The poignant account of the 30-year life shared together by Stieg Larsson and Eva Gabrielsson.There is only one person who can tell Stieg Larsson's story other than himself - his lifelong companion and muse, Eva Gabrielsson. Here she tells the story of their 30-year romance, of Stieg's upbringing and early years, and how this shaped his morals and personality. She talks of his life-long struggle to expose Sweden's Neo-Nazis, of his struggle to keep the magazine he founded, Expo, alive, his difficult relationships with his immediate family, and the joy and relief he discovered writing The Millennium trilogy.Their story is told as a series of short vignettes, and Eva Gabrielsson speaks with rare candour and dignity, inspired only by the truth as she knows it. This book is poignant in its account of two soulmates and the life they shared, and most importantly is deeply insightful into the man everyone wants to know better, and about whom so little is known.
By Mark Todd
The greatest equestrian of the 20th century makes a stunning comeback in the 21st century.Mark Todd's eventing career is the stuff of legend and encompasses one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time.When he 'retired' from competing in eventing in 2000, he had already been named 'Rider of the Century' for his natural empathy with a horse and his extraordinary success, which included back-to-back Olympic gold medals, five Burghley wins and three Badminton victories. He has also show jumped to Olympic level and trained winners on the racecourse. Considered a legendary horseman by his peers, he seemed to have done it all.He returned to train racehorses in his native New Zealand but, eight years later, the idea of a comeback took root, part dare, part personal challenge to see if he could still cut it in a changed sport. Within eight months, he was riding at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and in 2011, he hit the headlines by becoming the oldest rider to win Badminton. He is now at the forefront of New Zealand's resurgence ahead of the London Olympic Games.The story of his progress from dairy farmer to world renown is told with typically laid-back humour, but it reveals the fierce determination, discipline and personal sacrifice which lies behind the relaxed outlook.
By Clive Small Tom Gilling
Organised crime doesn't just exist on our television screens. The real world of serious crime operates every day in every country. It is a multi-billion dollar business and at its core are the drug trade and a world of secrecy and self-protection where intimidation and violence are used as the first and only resort.Smack Express takes us deep into this world and unravels the web of criminal connections that are at the heart of the Australian underworld. It is about stand over merchants, big time drug dealers and small time crims, politicians, corrupt police, informants, undercover cops, contract killers, criminal gangs, and lawyers and accountants operating on the edge of the law. It is also about the Calabrian Mafia, triads and an international milieu that has connections across Southeast Asia and into Columbia.Authoritative and meticulously researched, Clive Small and Tom Gilling fit together all the pieces of this frightening and fascinating puzzle. Theirs is the book on organised crime for this generation.
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.
Season in Red
By Kirsty Needham
When Kirsty Needham went to Beijing as a 'Foreign Expert' she had no idea quite how foreign - or confronting - the experience would be. Her romantic expectations of how it would be to work and live as a journalist in Beijing are swiftly swept away by the bizarre realities of this extraordinary country. As she grapples with the strange and often contradictory world of modern China - a country of communist slogans and transvestite nightclubs, SARS scares and SWAT-like teams of tourist handlers - Kirsty becomes embroiled in a world that constantly challenges her perceptions as it quietly wins her heart. By turns enlightening, hilarious and sometimes not a little scary, Kirsty's is a unique take on contemporary China as it is evolving right now. From a city where where St Bernard dogs are the new status symbols and nice middle-class Beijingers play the NASDAQ for fun she provides a fresh, compelling outsider's view of a little known and fascinating part of the world.