Who is Spencer Leigh?
Spencer Leigh has been broadcasting on BBC Radio Merseyside for over 40 years. “I’m embarrassed to say that my first series was a poetry one called No Holds Bard, and I didn’t appreciate at the time that written puns didn’t work on radio.
“That was in 1972 and I hope I’ve improved since then.”
His music programme, On The Beat, has been on air since 1985 and, as a result, he has interviewed hundreds of musicians. On The Beat is broadcast on Sunday nights at 7pm and each programme is available on line for 30 days.
There have been special concert performances from Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas, Dennis Locorriere, Sonny Curtis, China Crisis, Clinton Ford, the Merseybeats, John Power, Pete Wylie, Hank Walters and Up and Running.
From time to time, Spencer amalgamates his interviews in special series, the best-known being the 1981 series, ‘Let’s Go Down The Cavern’, which led to him writing the first book about the Merseybeat era, also called ‘Let’s Go Down The Cavern’
Spencer’s books include biographies of Frank Sinatra (2015) and Simon and Garfunkel (2016) He has written extensively about Merseybeat and the Omnibus series ‘The Beatles in Hamburg’, ‘The Beatles in Liverpool’ and ‘The Beatles in America’ has been successful. Earlier biographies include Billy Fury, Lonnie Donegan and the Cavern DJ, Bob Wooler. In recent years, there have been biographies of Elvis Presley, Simon and Garfunkel and Frank Sinatra and a comprehensive biography, ‘Bob Dylan: Outlaw Blues’, is being published in July 2020.
Spencer has written the sleeve notes for over 300 albums and was delighted when the soundtrack album,’ The Best Of Heartbeat’, made Number One on the album charts in 1994. “Of course no one bought it for my sleeve notes,” says Spencer, “but it was great to see it at the top of the best sellers.” The demand for CD notes, like CDs, is levelling off but Spencer has written many notes for Not Now’s recent compilations.
You may find Spencer’s work in such magazines as Record Collector, Now Dig This and Country Music People. He writes obituaries of musicians for The Independent and The Guardian and says “When I meet someone, I am tempted to offer them the full package of radio interview, magazine feature and forthcoming obituary.”
Paul Simon – Now and Then (1973)
Presley Nation (1976)
Stars In My Eyes – Personal Interviews With Top Music Stars (1980)
Let’s Go Down the Cavern (1984)
Speaking Words of Wisdom (1991)
Halfway to Paradise, Britpop 1955–1962 (1996)
Drummed Out! – The Sacking of Pete Best (1998)
Baby, That Is Rock and Roll, American Pop, 1954–1963 (2000)
Brother, Can You Spare a Rhyme? – 100 Years Of Hit Songwriting (2001)
Puttin’ on the Style – The Lonnie Donegan Story (2002)
Sweeping the Blues Away – A Celebration of the Merseysippi Jazz Band (2002)
The Best of Fellas – The Story of Bob Wooler, Liverpool’s First DJ (2002)
Twist and Shout! – Merseybeat, the Cavern, the Star-Club and the Beatles (2004)
Sound! – The Liverpool Pop Quiz Book (2004)
Wondrous Face – The Billy Fury Story (2005)
Things Do Go Wrong (2008; Kindle 2012)
The Cavern – The Most Famous Club in the World (2008)
Everyday – Getting Closer to Buddy Holly (2009)
Tomorrow Never Knows: The Beatles on Record (2010)
It’s Love That Really Counts – The Billy Kinsley Story (2010)
The Beatles in Hamburg (2011)
The Beatles in Liverpool (2012) Republished in paperback, 2014
The Beatles in America (2013)
British Pop Before The Beatles: Volume 1 The Story (2015) ebook
British Pop Before The Beatles: Volume 2 The Profiles (2015) ebook
American Pop Before The Beatles (2015) ebook
Best Of The Beatles: The Sacking Of Pete Best (2015) Updated ‘Drummed Out. Paperback and ebook
Frank Sinatra: An Extraordinary Life (2015)
The Cavern Club: The Rise of the Beatles and Merseybeat (2016) Revised and updated version of ‘The Cavern’
Simon and Garfunkel: Together Alone (2016)
The Beatles On Record: Love Me Do to Love Me Don’t (2016) Revised version of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’
Elvis Presley: Caught In a Trap (2017)
Buddy Holly: Learning The Game (2019)
Spencer Leigh has also written or collaborated on the following books with other authors:
Memories of Buddy Holly with Jim Dawson (1996)
The Walrus Was Ringo – 101 Beatles Myths Debunked (2002) by Alan Clayson and Spencer Leigh
1000 UK Number One Hits (2005) by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh
Aspects of Elvis – Tryin’ To Get To You (1994) edited by Alan Clayson and Spencer Leigh
Behind the Song – The Stories of 100 Great Pop and Rock Classics (1998) by Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh