Music Mentor Books, (204pp, paperback, £14.99, 2005)
In 1973 I wrote my first book, Paul Simon – Now And Then. The reviews were generally sound, but even now a line from one of the music papers still hurts. It said that I wasn’t prepared to leave Liverpool for an interview. It hurt because it was true. Very few people were interviewed for the book and those who were had passed through my home city. It taught me a lesson and I have realised, I hope, that the readers come first: you have to make the book as good as you can and if it means moving around to get interviews, then so be it. Generally speaking, it improves the material as you build up rapport with the performers, note how they say certain things or if they are being evasive, and you can comment on dress, demeanour and home, if you go there. Even when things go wrong (as in the interview with Jefferson Airplane in the Features section of this website), you can get a good story out of it.
I say all this because, compared to Dave Nicolson, my 1973 approach was adventurous. Calling his book of interviews with rock’n’roll performers, On The Road Again is a joke. The writer does not leave his north-east home for an interview – sorry, yes, he does: he interviewed Marty Wilde at Knebworth in 1987. All the other interviews have been conducted by e-mail, telephone and tape. He has never spoken to six of his 15 subjects. The “cool ghoul”, John Zacherle ends his interview by saying, “This is the end of the broadcast here; we’re not going to broadcast anymore.” These are not really interviews, much less conversations.