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.
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.
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.
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!