Alan Wilson - Doin’ My Own Thing an Autobiography
Released 2021 by Western Star
You may know Alan Wilson as the Sharks' Front Man, or the Owner of Western Star. You may not even have heard of him!
Well, whether you know the name or not very few will truly know the Man.
In Alan's Autobiography he takes you through his life, starting with his upbringing, much of which those of us of a certain age will relate to. Sounds like he was a bit of a lad…
The book then goes on through Alan's teenage years, covering how Alan fell in love with 50’s music and became a musician, leading up to the formation of the Psychobilly band the Sharks, I was surprised to read how the band came to record their first album “Phantom Rockers”, which I still play on a regular basis.
The rest of the book takes you through Alan's colourful life, and he talks about various bands he joined or helped out and how Western Star started, how he has made many new friends, some sadly no longer with us, how he reignited the Sharks, his touring antics, how he met his Wife his true love, and much, Much more.
The book is also full of Photographs which helps the reader relate to various parts of the book.
Though I’m sure there are many more stories to be told and many more adventures for Alan to take this is a great Autobiography that once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down.
This book is not just about Psychobilly. It's about Alans Life which has taken so many twists and turns, It’s a great read that will appeal to all you Katz and Kittens.
Would I Recommend you read this book? Hell yes….
Max Decharne, Rocket In My Pocket!
The Hipsters Guide to Rockabilly Music (London,2010)
This gem of a book by Max Decharne (former keyboard player with Gallon Drunk) is a veritable treasure trove of information pertaining to a genre of music that for many of us has become the soundtrack to our lives.
The book begins quite rightly, with an analysis of what Rockabilly music actually is. Thus, we are provided with an account of the progenitors of rockabilly in a chapter appropriately entitled hillbillies on speed. This is before we are treated to an overview of the incredible figure that is Sam Philips and his legendary Sun Studios where, of course the Hillbilly Cat walked into the studio and effectively changed the face of modern popular music. But, of course, Elvis is only one part of the story. Other artists who recorded for the Sun label included such towering greats as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison to name but a few. Moreover, Sun was only one label of a cluster from within this southern state that included Meteor Records. This was as well as such labels as Chicago's Mercury.
A few rockabillies signed with major labels. Ronnie Self did a stint at Columbia then Decca, while Elvis had signed to RCA and Gene Vincent to Capitol. Then there is a section devoted to female rockabillies, notably Wanda Jackson and Janis Martin, Barbara Pitman, but also the likes of Charline Arthur and a welter of one-hit wonders, or rather no-hit wonders. Indeed, the story of those who never had a breakthrough track is a real strength of this book. There is really excellent on material that sat on shelves gathering dust until it was rediscovered in their late 70s and 80s and given its first public airing 30 years after being recorded, I think here of 'Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache' by Warren Smith, but there were many more whose careers were revitalised or indeed resurrected by the enthusiasm of Brits. Such enthusiasm saw Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochrane touring the U.K. many times (this was, at least true for Vincent with Cochran dying in a car crash in 1960.)
The apogee of the US invasion was reached when in 1972, Wembley Stadium, played host to Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and others.
In the penultimate chapter Decharne explores the contribution of the Stray Cats, the Polecats, the Jets and the Cramps.
This is a very fine book and a very easy read. If its intention is really to verse the hipster beardy-weirdy in all things rockabilly, then I can't think of a better place to start.
My Life As A Rockabilly Rebel
A Stray Cat Struts by Slim Jim Phantom
Thomas Dunne Books Released Aug 2016
Before I start to get into the book, I must confess to being a Stray Cats fan. I can remember seeing Runaway Boys video on TV in the early 80’s and instantly Loved the band. This drew me further into the world of Neo Rockabilly and I love it!
So, when I saw that Slim Jim Phantom had released his memoires, I snapped it up, initially because I knew there would be insights to the Stray Cats early days. To my knowledge there is yet to be a book written purely about them, so if anyone knows of one, please let me know.
So that is why I Bought the book, however I soon found myself immersed into Slim Jim’s colourful life that goes way beyond the Stray Cats
Better get back to the book Review. Yes, it starts with the stray cats and there are some remarkable stories and insights. The book then covers life after the Cats including his marriage to Britt Ekland, his son TJ, and a lot of famous friends like Lemmy , Bill Wyman etc…
A true Rock n Roll lifestyle lived to the full.
The books a great read and if like me you love the Stray Cats it is a must read.
Slim Jim is still regularly active in the Rockin Scene, and I wish him all the best for the future and thank him for sharing with us his memories.
The Devils Rhythm
Lost Soul Books 2020.
Drummer Mark Robertson was only 24 when he joined up with P.Paul Fenech (vox/guitar) and Nigel Lewis (vox/bass) to form the Meteors, effectively launching the genre we know today as psychobilly. The latter two were only 19, as well as manager Nick Garrard. It’s hard to believe how quickly their popularity skyrocketed (one might say their rise was meteoric), but in the short time Robertston was with the band (beginning of 1980 to the end of 1981), they went from playing their first gig to supporting the Cramps and the Clash, filming “Meteor Madness,” signing with Island Records and recording the famous “In Heaven” album. In his first autobiography, Robertson hones in on those two years, offering up all the details he can remember, including trivia about the songs, people, gigs, shenanigans and a clear-eyed analysis of what went right and what went wrong.
From the get-go, the band was incredibly busy. While details of important events are chronicled throughout the chapters, you also get a handy list at the back with dates, locations and notes about 89 gigs, a discography page listing eight recordings, and 47 pages of photos, flyers and clippings.
To read “The Devil’s Rhythm” is like talking to a very humble, yet famous, friend. A legendary drummer, Robertson regrets never having taken lessons rather than boast about how much he achieved without them. And toward the end, he delicately says he was “getting on less well with Paul” after the autumn of 1981. Later, he goes on to praise Fenech’s musicianship while distancing himself from the aggression that has become a Meteors hallmark: “He’s a great guitarist and performer and deserves the success he’s worked so hard for. In what is a small scene though, the rift between the die-hard Meteors fans and the rest of the psychobilly world is regrettable.” Praise is freely given to lots of fellow musicians in the book, including those he replaced or was replaced by, and none are demonized. He even declines to gloat over Kirk Brandon’s failed libel suit against Boy George, despite Brandon having encouraged him to quit the Meteors for Theatre of Hate and then firing him after his first gig with them.
It’s what I would call a good bathroom book—not because it’s sh*t, but because you can pick it up and start reading anywhere for a few minutes. The anecdotes are generally short and to the point, the best parts generally being the “oh no” moments like when he describes losing his travel bag and buying a new shirt only to have it ruined, then getting a 45p replacement sweater that ends up having fleas. Or the time the stage pyrotechnics go awry. Or bandmates jostling each other while one is pissing in a dressing room sink. I nearly died laughing at the story about a girlfriend who plays the “In Heaven” album to him long after his Meteors days, not knowing he’d heard it before!
If you’re left wanting more, good news! The author has since published a follow-up book, “Ride This Torpedo,” covering his subsequent adventures in psychobilly. The bad news is, supplies of both books are very limited. If you’re looking for a copy, various distributors are listed on both books’ dedicated Facebook pages, and a contact email address is given as firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy hunting!