Guide to British Music of the 1960s

June 2006

Book Review

Ticket to Ride by Graham Sclater

Graham Sclaterís book reads like an autobiography. He spent much of the 1960s as an English musician playing in Germany and he has written a novel about The Cheetahs on the back of his own experiences. Think of British musicians in Hamburg and you immediately think of The Beatles. This book is set after this period in the second half of the decade. The story is about The Cheetahs, a five-piece band that manages to get a residency at a Hamburg club, even before the group has been formed! Once in Germany the band goes from strength to strength, following the Beatles into places like the Star Club as well as playing further afield in Germany and Switzerland.

Life for a band in Germany was not easy. There was a seemingly endless supply of pills to keep them going for the long hours they spent on stage in the clubs. Alcohol was flowing too. There was also a plentiful supply of girls, many of them prostitutes who formed friendships with the musicians. There was plenty of sex on offer but with this came other problems such as VD. The cold, hunger and poor living conditions were something that the bands had to endure but sexually-transmitted diseases were everywhere too.

The bands dreamed of stardom, after all, the Beatles had made it after learning their trade in Hamburg. The Cheetahs managed to make a record and towards the end of the book it enters the charts. However, for various reasons, the band is no longer together to make the most of it. It is a very sad ending to a mostly uplifting story.

Ticket to Ride is a fun book to read. The fact that it is rooted in reality makes it seem like a genuine biography or autobiography rather than a novel. It is evident that much of it is, or could be, based on actual events. The book provides an insight into the life of a hard-working band in the 1960s.

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