The book is a satellite map of the rock’n’roll universe.

It gives you outlines and connections that you knew about but had never seen laid out before. But it zooms in on particular places and events as well.

Who’s it for?

The initiated, who’ve been there and know their way around; and the uninitiated, who’ve heard about it and want to see what it’s like.

  • If it were a geography book, it would contain the Mississippi, the Bronx and Abbey Road.
  • If it were a sociology book, it would contain the Black Panthers, LSD and bubblegum.
  • If it were an art book, it would contain the Plastercasters, Don Van Vliet and the history of album covers.

In fact, it covers all of these – and more:

 not just the music, despite people’s love for it

not just the image, important as that is

not just a history (though I like history)

not just an account of the roots of rock or of particular forms of it – rockabilly, soul, psychedelic, doo-wop, though these are rich veins

not just a biography or even a set of biographies, though they often beat anything you’d read in a novel

not just the assessments and opinions, though they can make you think

not just the money and success, which can be extraordinary

not just the dreams and exaggerations, which can be fantastic

– but all of it.

Everything gets in: genius and garbage, #1 hits and lost souls, luck and blood, sweat and tears.

  • It’s an almanack (because it sets store by facts and figures).
  • It’s an encyclopedia (because it covers most everything you can think of).
  • It’s a treatise (because it has plenty of ideas).
  • It’s a eulogy (because it loves its subject).

It includes Nik Cohn (rock’n’roll as a hit straight into the bloodstream), Dave Marsh (rock as popular culture’s storytelling and drama), Charles Shaar Murray (rock as the hip adventure/blues-in-the-night) and Greil Marcus (rock’n’roll as an understanding of American civilization).

This is a book with Tiny Tim and the Marquis de Sade in the same chapter, Jack Kerouac and the Shangri-Las on the same page, and Shakespeare and Jerry Lee Lewis in the same sentence.

It’s swoops into rock’n’roll (like the intro to ‘Green Onions’), struts through it (like ‘Hi Heel Sneakers’) and gets out the other side (like Roy Buchanan doing his impression of Elmore James).

Every page is self-contained. Drop into the book anywhere and you’re already on it.
A.E.WaiteA.J.AyerAbbaAbbie HoffmanAbdul QadirAbraham LincolnAC/DCAdam AntAdam YauchAlabama ThunderpussyAlannah MylesAlec GuinnessAleister CrowleyAlexander TrocchiAlexandre JacobAlice ColtraneAlice CooperAllen GinsbergAlvin ChipmunkAnaïs NinAndrew Loog OldhamAndy KaufmanAndy SummersAndy WarholAntonin ArtaudArchie AndrewsArchiesAretha FranklinAristotle OnassisArnold SchönbergArthur RimbaudAugustus JohnB.Bumble & The StingersBabajiBarbara CartlandBarry GeorgeBarry WhiteBatmanBeach BoysBeastie BoysBeatlesBeau BrummelsBee GeesBen E.KingBernadine DohrnBernie RhodesBessie SmithBette MidlerBianca JaggerBig BopperBig Mama ThorntonBill DrummondBill HaleyBill HicksBilly ChildishBilly CorganBilly HigginsBilly JoelBing CrosbyBishop Franzo KingBjörkBlack SabbathBlurBo DiddleyBob DylanBob MarleyBobby SealeBobby WhitlockBon JeloudBon JoviBonoBoris GodunovBrian EnoBrian JonesBrian WilsonBruce DickinsonBruce JohnsonBryan AdamsBuddhaBuddy HollyBurt ReynoldsByrdsC.S.LewisCaesar and CleoCalamity JaneCandice BergenCaptain BeefheartCarl JungCarlos SantanaCarly SimonCarpentersCat StevensCecil TaylorCeline DionCharles DickensCharles FortCharles ICharles IICharles MansonCharles OlsenCharles Shaar MurrayCharles WilliamsChe GuevaraCherChogyam TrungpaChris IsaakChris StampChubby CheckerChuck BerryClashCliff RichardClyde McPhatterCoastersCoco ChanelConfuciusConrad RooksCornelius CardewCount BasieCourtney LoveD.T.SuzukiDamon AlbarnDaniel JohnstonDanny BonnaduceDanteDave EdmundsDave Lee RothDave MarshDavid BlaineDavid BowieDavid CassidyDavid CrosbyDebbie HarryDee SniderDelaney & BonnieDennis HopperDerek & the DominosDianaDick CavettDionne WarwickDionysusDixie ChicksDolly PartonDon CherryDon HenleyDon Van VlietDonald CammellDonald TrumpDonna SummerDoorsDoris DayDougal ButlerDr. JohnsonDriftersDuchess of YorkDuran DuranDwight YorkDylan ThomasEartha KittEd BergenEd SandersEddie CochraneEdgard VarèseEdith SitwellEdward LearElijah MuhammadEllie GreenwichElton JohnElvisElvis CostelloEminemEric ClaptonErik SatieEshu-ElegbaEtta JamesFairport ConventionFather John McArthurFrances BallardFrank SinatraFrank ZappaFrankensteinFrankie and JohnnyFrankie ValliFranz KafkaFred 'Sonic' SmithFreddie MercuryFriedrich NietzscheFu ManchuFyodor DostoevskyGary GlitterGary LarsenGary RayeGene SimmonsGene VincentGeorge ClintonGeorge HarrisonGeorge JacksonGerald Manley HopkinsGlenn GouldGoetheGorillazGoyaGrace SlickGraham Bond OrganisationGraham ParkerGram ParsonsGreil MarcusGreta GarboGrimaldiGuns N'RosesGurdjieffGuru Maharaj JiHamletHank WangfordHans BellmerHans van MeegerenHart CraneHeinrich SusoHelen ShapiroHenri Cartier-BressonHenry JamesHenry PurcellHerbert DexterHerbie HancockHermann GoeringHitlerHolger CzukayHolly JohnsonHomerHoward HughesHunter S.ThompsonIdi AminIggy PopIngemar JohanssonInklingsIvan KaramazovIvan the TerribleJ.C.CrawfordJ G BennettJ.J.CaleJ.R.R.TolkienJack KerouacJack NicholsonJackie OJackie WilsonJackson PollockJames BookerJames BrownJames CarrJames CawleyJames LeeJames TaylorJamie ReidJAMSJane FondaJanis JoplinJarvis CockerJean CocteauJean GenetJeff BeckJeff BuckleyJeff KatzJefferson AirplaneJefferson StarshipJeffrey DahmerJerry GarciaJerry HallJerry KasenetzJerry Lee LewisJFKJill DandoJim CarrollJim GordonJim MorrisonJim PriceJim ReevesJimi HendrixJimmy CautyJimmy EllisJimmy PageJoan JettJoe CockerJoey LevineJohann Sebastian BachJohn CageJohn CarpenterJohn ColtraneJohn ConstableJohn DenverJohn DonneJohn FowlesJohn GilbertJohn HiattJohn KeatsJohn Lee HookerJohn LennonJohn McLaughlinJohn MellencampJohn MiltonJohn SquireJohn TravoltaJohn Wayne GacyJohnny GreenJohnny MooreJohnny RottenJohnny ThundersJoni MitchellJorge Luis BorgesJosephJoshuaJudas PriestJulian ClaryJulian CopeJulie CypherKaren CarpenterKaren DaltonKarl MarxKarlheinz StockhausenKashyapaKate BushKeith MoonKeith RichardsKenneth AngerKevin CostnerKiki ApostolakosKingsmenKinksKissKit LambertKraftwerkKris KristoffersonKurt CobainKurt RussellLa Monte YoungLao TzuLaughing BuddhaLawrence DurrellLead BellyLed ZeppelinLee MarvinLenny BruceLeonard CohenLeonard NimoyLester BangsLiberaceLinda McCartneyLinda RonstadtLink WrayLisa Marie PresleyLittle ElvisLittle RichardLiz PhairLolo FerrariLord BuckleyLoretta LynnLou ReedLuchino ViscontiLucille BallLudwig WittgensteinMa RaineyMadnessMadonnaMalcolm LowryMalcolm McLarenMalcolm XMarc BolanMarcel DuchampMaria CallasMarianne FaithfullMarie OsmondMarilyn MansonMarilyn MonroeMark WahlbergMarlene DietrichMarlon BrandoMarquis de SadeMartin Luther KingMartin ScorseseMarvin GayeMary WeissMavis StaplesMC5Meher BabaMichael HutchenceMichael JacksonMick JaggerMiles DavisMilli VanilliMiriam MakebaMiroslav TichyMo TuckerMojo DixonMojo MenMona LisaMonkeesMorrisseyMott the HoopleMr.BlobbyMuddy WatersMuhammad AliNancy SpungeonNaomi CampbellNapoleonNapoleon XIVNatalie MainesNeem Karoli BabaNeil BogartNeil SedakaNeil YoungNelson RiddleNew York DollsNick CaveNick CohnNick DrakeNick KentNick RhodesNicoNicolas CageNik CohnNikola TeslaNirvanaNisargadatta MaharajNoam ChomskyNoddy HolderNoel CowardOlivia Newton-JohnOrlanOrpheusOrson WellesOrvilleOscar WildeOthelloOzzy OsbournePaganiniPartridge FamilyPatsy ClinePatti SmithPaul KleePaul McCartneyPaul SimonPaul SimononPaul VerlainePaul WilliamsPete BestPete TownshendPeter BlakePeter BroughPeter FondaPhil CollinsPhil SpectorPhilip GlassPhilip LarkinPicassoPierre BonnardPierre Teilhard de ChardinPigasusPink FloydPinky and PerkyPinocchioPlatoPlattersPops FosterPrincePrincess DiPu-taiPublic EnemyPulpQueenQuentin CrispRabindranath TagoreRadioheadRam DassRainer Maria RilkeRasputinRay CharlesRay DaviesRay KajowskiRaymond ChandlerRed Hot Chilli PeppersRenata ScottoRennie DavisRichard HellRichard NixonRichard ThompsonRicky NelsonRingo StarrRitchie ValensRob HalfordRobbie RobertsonRobert Anton WilsonRobert FrankRobert GravesRobert HeinleinRobert JohnsonRobert KennedyRobert MapplethorpeRobert PlantRobert RauschenbergRobert SheaRock HudsonRod StewartRoger DeanRoger TaylorRoger WatersRoky EriksonRolling StonesRoman PolanskiRonnie McDowellRosemary ClooneyRoy OrbisonRudy LewisRumiSam CookeSam PhillipsSam SpadeSamuel BeckettSamuel JohnsonSamuel PalmerSamuel PepysSamuel Taylor ColeridgeSchopenhauerScreamin' Jay HawkinsSengaiSex PistolsShadow MortonShadowsShakespeareShangri-LasSharon OsbourneSharon TateShelby SingletonShivaShrila PrabhupadaSid ViciousSituationistsSly StoneSnoop DoggSolomon BurkeSonic YouthSonny and CherSonny CrockettSpaceSri ChinmoySt.Theresa of AvilaStan GetzStaple SingersSteely DanSteve JonesSteve MillerStingStokely CarmichaelStone RosesStorm ThorgersonStu SutcliffeSuggsSun RaSupertrampSupremesSwami SatchidanandaSyd BarrettT.E. LawrenceT.RexTed NugentTemptationsTerry MelcherTerry RileyTerry Southernthe 5 DimitrysThomas MertonThompson TwinsTim OwensTimelordsTimothy LearyTina TurnerTiny TimTom HaydenTom VerlaineTom WaitsTuli KupferbergTwisted SisterU2Van MorrisonVaslav NijinskyVelvet UndergroundVillage PeopleVince TaylorVincent van GoghVishnuVivienne WestwoodW.B.YeatsW.C.HandyWait WhitmanWeather UndergroundWendy O.WilliamsWhite PanthersWhitesnakeWhitney HoustonWhoWillem de KooningWilliam BlakeWilliam BurroughsWilliam HazlittWilliam MartinWilliam WordsworthWilson PickettWinston ChurchillWomblesXTCYesYoganandaYogi BerraYoko OnoYorickZeus
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