Monday, September 10, 2012

At last I can name the mystery band who came to stand for ROCK

Sorting stuff out this weekend I came upon this copy of the NME Encyclopedia of Rock. This came out in 1976 and was edited by Nick Logan, who taught me to proof-read and Bob Woffinden, who gave me the invaluable advice "don't ever use the word 'feel' as a noun". (Amazing what you remember.)

Before the internet this was the place you went if you wanted to check how many records Paul Kossoff had made or Joni Mitchell's date of birth. I tweeted about it and I clearly wasn't the only one who remembered it with great affection. Some had committed whole sections to memory. David Quantick said he taught himself to write reviews by reading it. One person could only afford the unillustrated version and used to borrow the pictorial version from the library.

Looking at it I remembered the many hours we used to spend trying to work out the identity of the group on the front. Again I wasn't the only one. Even Nick Logan didn't know. It had been the publisher's choice. The guesses came in. Budgie? Mountain? Wishbone Ash? Mahogany Rush? Rush? Can? Steve Hillage and Gong? Iron Butterfly?

I have to thank Mark Blake for giving me the correct answer. It's Quiver, an excellent group who subsequently merged with the Sutherland Brothers and had Tim Renwick and Bruce Thomas among their number.

The person who took the photograph was Robert Ellis, who also supplied the picture of Pink Floyd on the back. "It was deliberately chosen to be obscure," he told me. "They were first band on at the first show at the newly opened Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park London, supporting the Who, in November 1971. The cover of the book deceives the eye. My original photo, which I still have, shows the four members of the band."


  1. With rock music being as much a business as art nowadays, why are there not more mergers of bands. Hostile takeovers even !

  2. MN - Have you not seen Doctor Feelgood lately?

  3. Good lord. I can still see my copy from where I'm sitting. I haven't picked it up for years, but it was my bible when I was growing up. Actually, just picked it up for a look. I don't remember the print being so tiny before...

  4. I don't have my copy anymore but I remember it being very nasty to The Eagles. Something about music for parents to enjoy with a glass of wine after putting the kids to bed.

    Of course now I'm an old fart I think: what's wrong with that?

  5. Just looked and it's not nasty about the Eagles at all. That may have come in some later Stalinist revision. In the last para it says that Joe Walsh has just joined and "it seems likely that his stay will only be a temporary one." Thirty-six years later, he's still there.

  6. My copy must have come out while the punk thing was still, um, exploding, because there were short entries for The Pistols and Clash, which I vaguely remember had a "stayed tuned to this story" vibe.

  7. I only had to move three paces in my studio here to pull my tatty but still intact copy out of my bookcase. I'd actually forgotten quite how wonderfully comprehensive and sensible it is. A quick flick through it now makes me recall those old joyous feelings of musical discovery in the 70s.

    I think I can say in all seriousness that I would have been a different person without it! I can see now where I got a lot of my knowledge and interest, and even tastes, in music. Even now in the internet era it strikes me as a really useful and enjoyable resource which I should place on our dining table AKA library for the edification of all.

    Not to mention happy memories for me.

    And yes, that's hilarious about Joe Walsh!

  8. The band on the cover of the 1982 edition is Yes.(The book doesn't even MENTION America's biggest band of the time:Van Halen.)Nice to see a mention at least of Canada's best band,Mahogany Rush,who only did a brief first tour of England in 12/77 to little acclaim (and small audiences-this was at the height of punk),so were unlikely to grace any book covers.Btw,Marino used a Strat for some numbers in US tours,as well as his modified Gibson SG.Ronnie Montrose,whose death I learnt of on this site,plays on his tribute album,ditto Jacko's guitarist Jennifer Batten.