Guide to British Music of the 1960s

April 2024

Book Review: Chain Reaction by Jon Kremer

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Making Time covered Jon Kremer's previous book, Bournemouth A Go-Go in September 2013. His new book takes a very different approach to music biographies. Chain Reaction looks at how there are chain reactions in music, i.e. event A caused event B to happen which caused event C. These linkages exist throughout music and it is fascinating to view how these developed.

The 1960s is the focus of these linkages although they date from the 1950s and earlier and into the 1970s. British artists covered by these links are the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Anthony Newley, David Bowie, the Hollies, Al Stewart, the Tornados. However, the linkages would frequently be transatlantic.

What would have happened if that had not happened. For example, without Paul McCartney meeting John Lennon at Woolton fete would there have been a Beatles? What if McCartney could not play Twenty Flight Rock? There are many chance meetings that led to much more. The Ealing club was a key linkage in the early days of British R&B. Without this club in Ealing Broadway the members of the Rolling Stones would (probably) not have come together, maybe no Cream, maybe no Manfred Mann.

Then there is Andrew Loog-Oldham who started in PR with the Mersey moptops but without his knowledge and attitude, the Stones would not have made their breakthrough and then their second single was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. What if Loog-Oldham had not locked Mick and Keith in a room until they wrote a song? Then again if Roger McGuinn had not returned to watch A Hard Day's Night for a second time to check out George Harrison's 12-string guitar would there have been a distinctive Byrds sound?

How did the deaths of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens in 1959 have an impact on the career of Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan. Again there is a linkage here via another Robert, Bobby Vee. The rubber ball comes bouncing back. And from Dylan came Al Stewart.

Again another linkage involves the Beatles so how did Bobby Darin's wedding play a role in the break-up of the Beatles?

A particular fascinating chapter is about Davy Jones. No, not more Monkee business but the Bromley boy who found fame as David Bowie. How original was he? Bowie's voice clearly had shades of Anthony Newley, actor and husband of Joan Collins but Newley impacted much more of the young Bowie and the linkages appeared throughout his career. Of course, though not covered here, Bowie links to Peter Frampton and then directly and indirectly to Small Faces.

Chain Reaction is a fascinating book. Quite different to a standard music biography the chains and linkages across time make for a very interesting and insightful read. Presumably these chain reactions are still occurring so it is mind-boggling to think what could have been occurring more recently. Highly recommended.

Published: 8 April 2024

New Haven Publishing

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