A recent biography of rock legend Syd Barrett had me wondering what else might be on the shelves.

A very irregular head : the life of Syd Barrett by Rob Chapman

Da Capo Press, 2010

Da Capo Press, 2010

“I don’t think I’m easy to talk about. I’ve got a very irregular head. And I’m not anything that you think I am anyway.” Syd Barrett could almost have been throwing down the challenge to his future biographers with this startling bit of self analysis, slipped into a Rolling Stone interview in 1971. Even after he left Pink Floyd in 1968 his shadow loomed large over the band, and the landscape of British rock music generally. We have a number of biographies of Barrett, but this one by Rob Chapman was written with the full cooperation of his family and is generally considered one of the finest rock music biographies of recent years.

Hard road : the life and times of Stevie Wright by Glenn Goldsmith

Random House, 2004

Random House, 2004

The Easybeats were one of the hippest and most energetic Australian bands when I was growing up in the Sixties, and I can still remember watching Stevie Wright in glorious black and white almost jumping through the screen of our telly! He remains an iconic figure in the history of Australian rock music, and his rollercoaster life is memorably and affectionately captured in this fine biography. Mind you there’s nothing quite like listening to him, and to this day Friday On My Mind is a great song!

Wild about you! : the sixties beat explosion in Australia and New Zealand by Ian D. Marks & Iain McIntyre

Verse Chorus Press, 2010
Verse Chorus Press, 2010

If you want to see who else was about in the Sixties in Australia then this is the book for you, and what an explosion it was! The iconic bands are all here, alongside some that might be less familiar such as the Pink Finks, Bari and the Breakaways, the Purple Hearts, The Underdogs, Peter and the Silhouettes and The Tol-Puddle Martyrs, to name just a few! And let’s not forget The Loved Ones and their fantastic first single, not so coincidentally titled The Loved One. I love this song!

Last train to Memphis : the rise of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick

Little, Brown, and Co., 1994

Little, Brown, and Co., 1994

If ever anybody deserved a two volume biography it’s Elvis Presley, and this exhaustive (but not exhausting) examination of one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century does its subject proud in both its depth of scholarship and sheer readability. The figure of Elvis continues to loom large over the entire landscape of popular music (and indeed popular culture), and Peter Guralnick manages the complex task of sifting through the fact and fiction in order to present a truly vivid story of a life and career that defined one generation and transformed those that followed.

Careless love : the unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick

Little, Brown, 1999

Little, Brown, 1999

 

And from our Picture Collection, the Delltones about to take some close harmony to Vietnam in 1965

 

Delltones [from left, "Peewee" Wilson, Colin Loughnan, Warren Lucas and Brian Perkins] going to entertain the troops in Vietnam

Delltones: from left, "Peewee" Wilson, Colin Loughnan, Warren Lucas and Brian Perkins

This article has 1 comment

  1. Dermot
    I just love the way you have drawn attention to popular culture in the Arts collection.
    My shorthand definition of the Library’s collection building role is ‘the contemporary documentation of popular culture’. Let’s face it no-one else does it.

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