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An Accidental Musician: The Autobiography of Judy Dyble Paperback – 14 Apr 2016
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"Do read it." --Mojo
"A delightful cut above... 4 stars." --Record Collector
"Her quietly quirky recollections glow with warmth... 7/10" -- Classic Rock
"Engaging memoir" --R2
About the Author
Born in 1949, Judy Dyble was the original female singer with Fairport Convention, replaced by Sandy Denny. She then teamed up with Robert Fripp for Giles, Giles and Fripp before forming Trader Horne with ex-Them singer Jackie McAuley. She married In 1973 and left the music business. Her husband died in 1994, which devastated her, In 2003, she felt able to restart her music career, releasing albums to great critical acclaim. She is probably better known now than at any other time in her life.
Dave Thompson is the British born author of over 100 books, largely dealing with rock and pop music (The Fall, Patti Smith, Rod Stewart, The Sparks and many more), but also covering film, sports, philately, numismatics and erotica. He lives in Newark, Delaware and is married to writer Amy Hanson.
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A privilege to learn my aunt's life story, with all its highs and lows. And whatever help she had from her co-author, this is absolutely Jude's authentic voice. The self-deprecation, delicate timidity and always seeing the best in others. Qualities which seemed to disqualify her from great success in the music business, but which protected her from the self-destruction that brought down so many of her contemporaries. New youth movements are defined not only by their clothes and their music but also by their outlook on life. Angry punks, cocky mods: Jude's book evokes that pastoral, ethereal and good-humoured optimism of the early folk rock and psychedelic movement - as well as its outrageous sexism. The rest of us called them hippies, a term Jude conspicuously avoids.
A privilege too to have my beloved Uncle Simon brought back to life. He was a huge influence on my parents' life, DJ-ing their whacky parties and depositing his tripping pals on our floor. He also gave me my lifetime love of Hendrix, Zappa, Santana, Cream; bands relegated to the second-hand bins by the mid-Seventies.
There are lots unexpected tales too. I was amazed to read of Jude's association with Astralasia, whose album Pitched Up At The Edge Of Reality is a favourite of mine. I had no idea of the connection to early Hawkwind.
Here are a couple of anecdotes I can add. The first was the time my mother took us children up to see Simon and Jude in their Notting Hill flat, because our French au pair was obsessed with their friends, the Pink Floyd. We spent the whole visit trying to spot some of the mysterious substance called 'pot', which was constantly in the news headlines at the time. A burning joss-stick we decided was near enough.
In 1980 I was promoting New Wave gigs in a seedy Birmingham club (the Cedar Cub). An unusual booking was the League of Gentlemen, a short-lived vehicle for Robert Fripp. My boss instructed me not to sign the contract and then a few days before the gig call the band's management and inform them that because there was no contract there'd be no gig - or else they could play for a percentage of the door money, but no fee. The band caved in because they were already on the road and wanted to promote their album to their Midlands fans. So we ripped them off for the fee and spent no money at all on publicity, just free listings in the music papers' gig-guides i.e. we did absolutely nothing in return for 75% of the ticket money.
On the night I took a tray of booze up to the dressing-room and met Robert Fripp for the first time. He then told me how he had once been flatmates with my Aunt Jude and how fond he was of her.
Imagine my shame! So when I was reading this book I had to keep reminding myself I'd been one of the bad guys.
I enjoyed it very much. No sordidness that you find in lots of modern day autobiographies.
Full marks from me then, and well done to Judy for her observations
This book gives a deep and personal insight into the pre-digital days of music and recording and takes us through the transition that Judy herself experienced into a music scene dominated by computerised recording and social media. We’ve had previous glimpses into the world of Muswell Hill from which Fairport arose, thanks to a number of biographies of members of the band and histories of the folk-rock movement. What you get here is the view from the inside by someone who grew up in North London and experienced the Flower Power years as a teenager, immersing herself in every possible variety of music and art. You get a flickering magic-lantern view of school, parties, music, teenage pranks and the sheer enjoyment of growing up in the Sixties. You also get a deep sense of the bond of friendship between the musical teenagers that has lasted down the years to this day.
Then come gigs with Fairport, the experimentation with music by a band who knew no musical boundaries. We learn the fascinating details of the clunky procedures of pre-digital recording techniques and hear of the boredom of time spent in black-hole studios. To counteract that, there are the contacts with the great bands of the time, with numerous amusing anecdotes of life on the road. Later come the agony of leaving Fairport, the tedium of endless car journeys up and down the land with Trader Horne and the dubious financial behaviour of agents and managers.
Understandably, there’s much about Simon Stable, Judy’s late husband who, died in 1994. After working in music and as a journalist for many years, Simon moved with Judy to Northamptonshire and then to Oxfordshire, where their tape-duplicating business enjoyed considerable success. Judy spent some 30 years away from music and only picked up the threads after Simon’s tragically early death. Three albums with producer Marc Swordfish were followed by Talking with Strangers and Flow and Change, in tandem with producer-musicians Tim Bowness and Alistair Murphy. Judy brings out the differences in approach to the various albums. The story of her increasing confidence in the studio and on-stage is an honest appraisal of her development as a musician and singer over the years.
Yes, this is a history of a certain era of music in Britain, but it’s more than that. It’s the story of a quietly determined woman who’s seen bright days and dark ones, who’s been at the heart of the London scene and been right out of it. It’s the story of a musician who’s been down and is now up, who is still writing, still singing and still making recordings. What you’ll take away from this book is a vivid impression of the rock scene in the Sixties and Seventies, the modern-day sense of the respect and affection felt for Judy by fans and other musicians and, above all, the knowledge that this is a really honest book that gives a previously unseen view of one person experiencing the music scene. Add it to your ‘history of rock’ shelf, but enjoy it for its deeply personal and very witty look at life. Essential reading.
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