Guide to British Music of the 1960s

February 2020

Book Review

Have a Cigar by Bryan Morrison

Bryan Morrison spent most of his career in the music industry as a manager, music publisher and booking agent. As such he is well-placed to narrate stories from the music business of the 1960s to 1980s. He wrote the memoir some time ago but, following his death from a tumour after a polo accident in 2006, his family decided to go ahead and have it published.

Morrison started his managerial career with the Pretty Things. They were one of the top R&B groups in the country and he quickly secured more dates around the country and their first recording contract. This helped him learn about he way in which the business worked at the time as well as give the band a good start to their career. After this he moved on to Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett's solo career. This was a very interesting time as music was changing a lot in the late 1960s. Barrett was also a difficult character to work with, not least because of his drug consumption.

The early '60s were driven by the music publishers and this remained an important part of the industry. Ownership of a hit song would keep the money rolling in. Entrepreneurs such as Bryan Morrison would buy up catalogues and also look to sign budding artists and songwriters to publishing deals. By "owning" the song they and the writers would receive payment whenever the song was played. Consequently the biggest songs could end up as very lucrative money earners. Lennon and McCartney set up their own company with Dick James to ensure they owned their own sings although, later, the catalogue ended up in the hands of Michael Jackson. McCartney does have the Buddy Holly catalogue amongst others though.

Many artists passed through Morrison's management and he was instrumental in moulding their careers: Robin Gibb, T-Rex, the Jam, Wham and George Michael. The stories and anecdotes and fascinating and often humorous. Of course, with the music industry in the 1960s so high profile and lucrative - possibly not for the artists - others wanted to become involved. Hence, Bryan Morrison became acquainted with the Krays and almost ended working alongside them.

As he moved away from music Morrison became interested in playing polo and founded the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club here he played alongside Prince Charles, Princes William and Harry, Major Ronald Ferguson and Kenney Jones of the Small Faces and Faces. He died in 2008 after having a polo playing accident.

This is an easy book to read as it is full of humour and stories from the buzzing music industry.

Published 6 September 2019

Quiller Publishing

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