Guide to British Music of the 1960s

August 2021

Book Review

Thinking About Tomorrow Excerpts from the Life of Keith West By Ian Clay

This is a fascinating book about songwriter and singer Keith West. He was the lead singer of Tomorrow, one of the most important bands of the late 1960s British psychedelia. However, he may be better known for his massive solo hit, Excerpt from a Teenage Opera (Grocer Jack). West's career is a long one even if he was in the public eye for a relatively short time. His first "major" band was The In Crowd who recorded the theme song for the film Blow Up although it was never used. The In Crowd played to the Mod audience, hence their name taken from the Dobie Gray song. Steve Howe later joined on guitar and the band with Twink now on drums transformed into Tomorrow. With West's lyrics and Howe's guitar lines Tomorrow became one of the hottest bands of the summer of love. My White Bicycle has since become a classic of English psychedelia. However, the LP Tomorrow was not released until 1968, missing the summer of psychedelia.

Meanwhile, West had been approached to write lyrics for Mark Wirtz's Teenage Opera project. The single "Grocer Jack" became a massive hit. However, the Teenage Opera never came to fruition despite many false starts and some material being written. It did raise its head at intervals over the years but it looks like it will never be finished. Of course, Pete Townshend came along with Tommy.

Keith West's story starts, as many do, by hearing Elvis Presley. With Tomorrow he was at the heart of the English psychedelia movement although the band did not gain the commercial success they certainly deserved. Many years later West is still working having embraced many musical styles over the years including punk.

This is a fascinating read as it looks at the music scene in the late 1960s from an insider's perspective. Without wishing to spoil anything, the Madonna anecdote is wonderful.

Published: 8 February 2021

Hawksmoor Publishing

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