I’m working on some new books that draw on my experiences as a coach and a writer, dealing with issues such as creativity, ideas, and making your best work. But in the meantime, most of the books here are from my years as a journalist, covering all aspects of popular culture.
Adventures in Wonderland: Decade of Club Culture
My 1998 book about British clubbing, based on my own experiences and on hundreds of interviews with DJs, promoters, musicians, blaggers and clubbers. The book traces the roots of the music in Chicago, New York, Detroit and Ibiza; the frantic, E-fuelled summers of 88 and 89 in London, Manchester and beyond; the huge illegal raves in southern England and in Blackburn; Manchester, drum’n’bass and the rise of superclubs such as Ministry, Renaissance and Cream.
I’ve updated it slightly and a new 2020 edition is now available on Amazon.
Signed, Sealed, and Delivered: True Life Stories of Women in Pop
I wrote this set of essays on women in pop with Sue Steward in 1984, when I was still at university, and very earnest and naive. We covered everything from the women who put vinyl into sleeves at EMI’s factory to screaming girl fans, managers to label owners.
There are interviews with a wide range of musicians, singers, bands and artists,. Although some of it is hopelessly dated now (the idea of anyone putting vinyl into sleeves ready for distribution, for instance!), quite a bit of it still stands up. We spoke to key players in both early punk and hip hop, from Sylvia Robinson – the force behind Sugarhill Records – to The Slits and Poly Styrene.
David Bowie: Starman – a Colouring Book
Just after David Bowie died, The Guardian asked me to write a piece celebrating his style. As always with obituary pieces, it had to be written quickly, in a couple of hours, but I’d already done some interviews with designers who had worked with him, at the time of the V&A Museum’s big Bowie retrospective.
Later, a publisher asked if they could reprint it as a preface to a Bowie colouring book, which has to be one of the strangest – and most entertaining – reuse of something I’ve written.
Bliss to Be Alive: The Collected Writings of Gavin Hills
My friend Gavin Hills was one of the most talented writers I ever worked with. But more than that, he was one of the loudest, funniest, opinionated, most alive people I’ve ever known. He died far too young, just after his 31st birthday, in an accident too absurd and upsetting to describe here. Trawling through his computer afterwards to put together this collection of his work was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
The book came out in 2000, covering everything from clubbing, drugs, football and casuals to war and famine. The global conflicts he covered have moved on, the fashions and music has changed, but his words are still somehow relevant, and full of life. He remains a constant inspiration. To mark what would have been his 54th birthday in 2020, I put out a new edition of the book, with a new foreword by Miranda Sawyer, and an additional one of Gavin’s columns from The Idler magazine. You can buy it here.
Love is the Drug
An entertaining collection of essays about obsessive fandom, edited by John Aizelwood in 1994. I reprise my thoughts on being a Bay City Rollers fan in my early teens, a subject I also covered in Signed, Sealed & Delivered and in The Faber Book of Pop. In fact, over the years, I’ve probably spent more time writing about being a Rollers fan than I did actually being one! My tartan scarf lasted longer than my brief crush on Les, Woody and co: it was recycled by my mum, who took it to several Rod Stewart concerts.
Both edited by Eric Maisel, these two books from Routledge offer case histories or creativity exercises from coaches all over the world. I contributed a short chapter to both. I’m going to be honest and say that my contributions were both based on Creative Thinking blog posts you can read for free on this site. So don’t buy these just for my bits!
Note: If you buy any of these books after clicking on the links above, I get a tiny payment from Amazon, that helps with the upkeep of the site. If you prefer to buy from independent bookshops, more power to you!