April 2014 Update

Bathed In Lightning: John McLaughlin, the 60s and the Emerald Beyond (Jawbone Press) is now available. Reviews so far have been very positive, bar one chap who found it ‘relentlessly detailed’. That’s the trouble with history: it comes with the blighters (details). But, joking aside, I’ve made the book as accessible as I could, while still corralling huge amounts of information and interwoven narratives, and I’m delighted that almost everyone, in print and in person, seems to find the balance right.

The book is available in print and in expanded eBook. Additionally, the eBook bonus content is available separately, with a custom designed ‘cover’ for a mere £2.97 (I think that might be a publishing first…). A fair amount of the text can be sampled at amazon with their ‘Look inside’ function, so do please check it out. If it’s too relentless, in any way, don’t buy it!

Work on the uilleann piping book The Wheels Of The World (see previous post for more info) continues, which I’m finding tremendously exciting – far more so than I imagined possible. Among recent interviewees and correspondents have been 1950s/60s London-Irish music doyen Reg Hall; Jenny Barton, organiser of London’s Troubadour Club 1958-64 and friend of Seamus Ennis; Irish folk legend Andy Irvine; and Helena Grimes, daughter and biographer-in-progress of piping legend Leo Rowsome. Helena has been a mine of tremendously helpful information and, hopefully, I’ve been able to reciprocate a little with material researched at the BBC Written Archives in Caversham last month.

Actually, one of the delightful things about writing non-fiction books is coming into contact, karmicly or coincidentally or perhaps inevitably, with other people writing books, in and around the same field or sometimes even when the overlap appears slight. Mutual assistance or at the very least mutual encouragement and moral support always occurs. In recent months I’ve been in touch with several other authors – people writing biographies of The Who and Paul Simon come to mind, as well as Mick Houghton, whose new biography of Sandy Denny I look forward to, and the excellent Peter Doggett whose book on The History Of Everything still requires a title, which any amount of brainstorming has thus far failed to deliver. Perhaps he should just go with The History Of Everything – it’s certainly an eye-catchingly outrageous title! A couple of other recent communicants have been Mike Barnes, working on an exciting Progressive Rock tome (and no, that wasn’t an oxymoron) and the astoundingly tenacious Mark Lewisohn, The Last Biographer the Beatles will ever need. Having read and been stunned (just stunned, not ‘shocked and stunned’…) by his first of three projected volumes, Tune In, I am not alone in hoping that he – and we – live long enough to see the rest of it.

It transpires there has, however unlikely it may seem, been a bit of crossover between the worlds of Bathed In Lightning and The Wheels Of The World and that of Mark’s forthcoming Beatles volumes. I was delighted to share a few bits of info and Mark was very generous in return. I’m honoured to have been even a tiny part of the process. However complex – nay, relentlessly detailed – my own books may feel during the writing process, they’re child’s play compared to Mark’s epic.

Mike Barnes had got in touch about the mighty Quintessence and, by happy coincidence, my Record Collector feature on the band has just appeared in the new issue (available till mid May). Unfortunately, it has been credited to someone else.

I had a very positive meeting, and beer-quaffing session, in Dublin last month with a ‘classic rock’ legend who shall not, yet, be named, concerning an assisted memoir. We’re both very positive about it and while my focus right now is to motor onwards with the various mini-book-like chapters of the piping book, we’ll be meeting again July to work on his book, all being well.

In a perfect world, the piping book will appear around April/May 2015 and the rock legend memoir around Autumn 2015. One can but try.

Sadly, Duffy Power passed on in February. I thought Duffy one of the truly great musicians and artists of the 1960s and I’m proud to have known him a little and to have helped on a couple of CD projects. I was asked to write obituaries for three publications – Record Collector, Mojo and the Guardian. With luck, there should be further Power CD projects via RPM Records and possibly a memorial event in London next year.

And finally… Fingers crossed… twice. In the last week I’ve had an Arts Council/Lottery Fund application submitted – which, if awarded in full or in part, will be of great assistance with the Uilleann Piping book (and associated media) – and I’ve also finished a PhD thesis. I should know about the success of the former in July and the latter in September.

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