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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Monday, September 17, 2007


I know I'm always heralding anniversaries of things and generally disobeying the maxim Don't Look Back, but it still came as a mild surprise at the scale of things to find that it is forty years ago this month that I was first in London having things published in underground and music papers.

Two such pieces came out in September 1967, the first an interview with the late British DJ John Peel, conducted in a basement flat somewhere in, I think, Chelsea. He was just about to move from pirate radio to the imminent BBC Radio 1, and was expressing some anguished scruple about this. The interview was conducted jointly (probably in both senses of the word) by me and Dave Phillips, who went on to become a professor at the London School of Economics. It appeared in an issue of John Wilcock's Other Scenes that was published inside OZ.

The second article, mine alone, was an "opinion piece" precariously titled Plasticine Pushers / the poly-vinyl world of pop... Hmm. It was a scathing attack on the way that commerce was cashing in on hippie culture and mentioning flowers, if not San Francisco, in almost every 45rpm single achieving release in the UK. It was accompanied by a Barry Wentzel photo of me, taken on my 21st birthday, sitting in the corner of a bare floorboarded room with an ashtray placed like a begging bowl in front of me. I'm looking exactly how my father most hated to see me, wearing a beard, long hair and long face but, to be fair, excellent hand-made boots by Anello & Davide.

The piece was immediately attacked by some old Fleet Street pro hack who had a cosy slot on the same paper, i.e. Melody Maker, whose own byline photo made it clear that he was a 1950s Sinatra fantasist. His wife or sister Val, a book reviewer for the Daily Mail, has kept on loyally sneering at my work ever since, bless her.

1967 was not all peace n love, man, but it was a very good year.


Blogger Paolo Vites said...


7:13 pm  

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