A really good read. Many books written about music are penned by musicians. The problem with musicians is that they have big egos, and are often convinced that they're good writers. Often they are wrong - see Morrissey's unreadable autobiography. In this case, Simon Parkes is an excellent writer with an easy, free flowing style, and he's got some great stories to tell. The industry was certainly very different back in the seventies and eighties and the story of how he took the decrepit building from ruins to riches is a fascinating one. The slimy agents, nasty bank managers, local gangsters and exploding drummers are all here in a book that's hard to put down. Highly recommended for any live music fans, particularly ones who've experienced a gig or three at the Academy over the years.
This book is packed with great stories! A very fun and engaging read, that will give you an insight into the story behind one of the world's greatest ever venues and the people that occupied the stage and the backstage... Highly recommended!
Like thousands of others, I've been lucky enough to visit Brixton Academy on a number of occasions to witness amazing gigs (The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers immediately spring to mind) but I was never aware of the story behind the venue. Parkes eloquently lays out the meandering path he took in great detail, from his early child right up to selling the venue when it was at its peak. The book is littered with feel good, and often nerve-wracking, accounts of how Parkes and his team over came adversity in it's many forms (both legal and illegal), as well as numerous stories about the world class rock, hip hop, metal, dance, reggae and even pop acts that passed though the doors during his tenure.
Parkes is openly honest about it all, without ever really breaking rank by fully lifting the lid on what undoubtedly went on behind the Academy's closed doors. I suppose this is my only slight gripe in that, aside from the opening gambit about the Manchester promoter, there's very little detail or even tales of the sex, drugs and debauchery that he occasionally alludes to. I'm sure there's at least another book in him if he ever wanted to divulge the full story, although his (and their) lawyers would probably have the final say on that!
Parkes predominantly comes at this from a logistical perspective and, as a avid gig goer and music fan, it was fascinating to find out first hand what went on behind the scenes to make the many hundreds of gigs and raves a reality. Very enjoyable from start to finish!
not in the habit of reading non fiction but this book is an exception. workload growing as i find myself distracted (just another chapter then i'll put it down) by this brilliant account of the wierd and wonderful world backstage at the academy. got to be a film. too sound and visual for just a book. but a comedy? musical? love story? gangland thriller? the least it deserves is 'three weddings and a funeral goes urban' with balls on. anyway read this book its brilliant. unless of course you dont like music?!
This is a great page turner about a bygone era before concerts were sanitised, a time when Simon Parkes and a small handfull of others were pushing the envelope and creating great musical experiences. Simon should be very proud of the legacy he has left in Brixton and reading this book it is a miracle he lived to tell the story.. But what a story ...