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White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s [Paperback]

Joe Boyd
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Oct 2007
When Muddy Waters came to London at the start of the ?60s, a kid from Boston called Joe Boyd was his tour manager; when Dylan went electric at the Newport Festival, Joe Boyd was plugging in his guitar; when the summer of love got going, Joe Boyd was running the coolest club in London, the UFO; when a bunch of club regulars called Pink Floyd recorded their first single, Joe Boyd was the producer; when a young songwriter named Nick Drake wanted to give his demo tape to someone, he chose Joe Boyd. More than any previous ?60s music autobiography, Joe Boyd?s White Bicycles offers the real story of what it was like to be there at the time. His greatest coup is bringing to life the famously elusive figure of Nick Drake ? the first time he's been written about by anyone who knew him well. As well as the ?60s heavy-hitters, this book also offers wonderfully vivid portraits of a whole host of other musicians: everyone from the great jazzman Coleman Hawkins to the folk diva Sandy Denny, Lonnie Johnson to Eric Clapton, The Incredible String Band to Fairport Convention.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (4 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852424893
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852424893
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.1 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 187,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

As a memoir of the enchanted Sixties, White Bicycles is among the elite...Exhilarating --Observer Music Monthly

This engaging and readable book is an important addition to the history of its time…terrific… pleasantly gossipy --Hanif Kureishi, New Statesman

If there's such a thing as living a perfectly timed life, then Joe Boyd has managed it... impossible to put down --Q Magazine

About the Author

Record and film producer Joe Boyd was born in Boston in 1942 and graduated from Harvard in 1964. He went on to produce Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, REM and many others. He produced the documentary 'Jimi Hendrix' and the film 'Scandal'. In 1980 he started Hannibal Records and ran it for 20 years. Boyd lives in London where he writes for the Guardian and Independent. His next book is about World Music.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remembering the 60's & really being there 7 Mar 2007
Format:Paperback
I've long thought the statement, 'If you remember the 60's you couldn't been there', to be a nonsense.

As a weekend hippy who got high on very good music, cheap Canadian Clubs and ginger (and no stronger chemicals), I remember the times pretty well. This meant having the ability to slip into the action at weekends and then do a day job to pay for the records, the gigs..... and then through the drag of the working week, eventually slip into next weekend's action. It was improved most Wednesday evenings by making the trip to Tolworth's Toby Jug off the A3, to see the likes of Timebox (soon to become Patto, and with Ollie Hassell doing a Keith Moon destruction job on his vibraphone), Fleetwood Mac (a half crown for this, and 'Albatross' had just left the No. 1 singles spot), King Crimson (first UK tour - but this was a terrible venue for the band), Led Zeppelin (1st tour and the audience only warming to them in the second hour of playing), Edgar Broughton Band (audience only just in double figures, but still a great show), a classic line-up with Jeff Beck (Nicky Hopkins, Ron Wood, Tony Newman and Rod Stewart), or the Groundhogs backing John Lee Hooker. Then get rather disillusioned about the hippy ethos at the end of Traffic's Oz Benefit concert at Central Middlesex Poly one summer's evening, when I discovered I'd been sit on the floor (of that canteen, which Traffic welcome us to), immediately in front of Oz-man-in-chief Richard Neville. I stood up and accidently trod on his cloak; he mouthed f*** off' retrieving a portable cassette recorder concealed there, on which it seemed he was making a bootleg recording - of a band who were doing him a huge favour.

This is not the first book to describe this period of radical musical change and social "revolution".
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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid, tasty piece of work 19 May 2006
Format:Paperback
I'd feared Joe Boyd's White Bicycles would be lightweight--not sure why, except that so many books are, nowadays--and thought I might only be interested in the section about the Witchseason artists and their time period (a favorite of mine). To my delight, Boyd's accounts of earlier adventures in the States and the UK, and of the many musicians he worked with then, are just as fascinating. He writes well, and his knack for remembering and expressing detail makes all the people he encountered seem very real, and gives depth to the book.

As reviewers elsewhere have pointed out, this isn't an autobiography of Boyd himself, but a memoir of his role in a specific timeline. There isn't much reference to his childhood, or to personal relationships; those aren't what Boyd is concerned with. For instance, of all the photos of musicians and moguls in the book, only two snapshots include him. You might expect him to be egotistical, considering the influential career he's had, but he really doesn't sound that way. While he does come across as quite confident--and if he hadn't been, he wouldn't have been able to work with so many people in so many different situations--he doesn't cast himself as the central figure. He portrays himself simply as one of the players in an amazing part of musical history, and gives the impression of trying to be fair as he looks back on everything. A few times I found myself reading between the lines, as he talked about a person or situation with which I was already familiar, and I suspected he was being careful not to say what he really thought. But this was obviously in deference to the feelings of others, not from a desire to lie or be secretive.

Throughout the book, you're impressed by the fact that no one else has had quite Boyd's point of view.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Window on the golden era of rock 6 Dec 2006
Format:Paperback
Written by a man who has produced so many classic albums and who has encouraged and brought to the limelight many artists I love, I simply had to get this book. And it certainly delivers. Many, many interesting facts, dates, anecdotes about as many artists are crammed into the pages, so it makes for avid reading, especially if you're a music fan interested in the music in the past century (for we can not only read about obvious artists and groups like Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band, but about jazz artists like Duke Ellington and Sonny Rollins as well).

The downside of this book for me is the fact that it stays on the surface too much. Both the artists as indeed the writer himself stay a bit distant, so that I didn't feel as involved as I wanted to. It might well be that Joe Boyd just wants to keep it factual and concise, but I think that he could have written a better book had he chosen to go a little deeper into (some of) the artists whose records he has produced.

Nevertheless, this is a fine book and you'll love all he has to write. Like I said, for me not buying and reading it immediately was not an option.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MOVING READ 1 Oct 2007
Format:Paperback
I had, since reading Fred Goodman's extraordinary "Mansion on the Hill" in 2004, wondered if an equally well written counterpart would appear which would map the development of music of the sixties and early seventies in the UK rather than the US... reading Boyd's memoir I was delighted and moved to find such an erudite and bewilderingly knowledgable book. It is razor sharp in analysis of the constantly evolving nexus between the artists, producers, management and audience, which easily equals Goodman's tome, subtitled "Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce". It is also heartbreakingly on the money when it comes to the industrialisation of the (counter)culture which proceded almost as soon as artists could establish themselves outside the confines of Tin Pan Alley. A brief period in the development of music which can be readily seen as a golden era, accounted for with great humility and wit. A must buy for any serious music fan.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars History of music
It's an interesting collection of memories and very interesting for someone who follows this sort of music and the 1960's era.
Published 5 months ago by Ms J. Sayer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
This is probably one of the best music-related books I've read. I'm a fan of many of the artists Joe Boyd worked with so I'm sure that helped but I think anyone with even a passing... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Surrealistic
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read from a surviver of the 60's
Really enjoyable autobiography from Joe Boyd. I bought this as I've attended a few of Joe's talks over the years and never managed to get a copy as it had always been sold out... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Gerald
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended to 70s fans
Can't add much more than others have already said but there are some
insights that I was pleased to see Joe write about. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Miss S. P. Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Memoir
Just finished reading this and felt instantly moved to contribute a review. Joe Boyd was deeply involved in many of the key events of the late 60's Underground Scene, from the... Read more
Published 24 months ago by S. Mccluskey
3.0 out of 5 stars folk memories
Joe boyd is a famous producer who worked in the UK in the 60s/70s. A good read if you have any interest in Anne Briggs, Richard Thompson, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny and The Incredible... Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2011 by piliboduinn
4.0 out of 5 stars He remembered the 1960s, he was there
Joe Boyd closes his excellent memoire observing that he dispelled at least one myth about the 1960s: he was there and he remembered it. Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2011 by Neil Kernohan
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
What an inspiring book. Yes, it has confusing chronology, yes it's opinionated. But as a memoir of music making or of the 1960s UK music scene, it is up there with the very best. Read more
Published on 13 Oct 2009 by W. Higham
5.0 out of 5 stars essential reading
a great book trawling through great times, through the eyes of a man who was at the heart of it. I know Joe Boyd through Nick Drake, but his early experiences as a promoter and a... Read more
Published on 3 Jun 2009 by G. Wilkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars The great man, the great man, historians his memory, Artists his...
This is a terrific read, the sixties remembered and recounted from the inside looking out. For all it is the story of Joe Boyd, musical entrepreneur, it is also the story of... Read more
Published on 22 April 2009 by Junglies
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