Max Décharné

The short-lived wonder of Creedence Clearwater Revival

Million-selling rock bands are rarely happy families. They are an uneasy combination of a creative alliance and a business partnership, which is frequently thrown together on an ad hoc basis by people barely out of their teens. They are tested to destruction by long hours, minimal sleep, deafening noise, international travel, a bedroom schedule that

A glimpse of lost London – before the yuppie invasion

In a 1923 book called Echo de Paris, the writer Laurence Houseman attempted to conjure up in a very slim, elegant volume the atmosphere and especially the conversation of an afternoon a quarter century earlier that he had spent in the company of the exiled Oscar Wilde. It was a conscious act of imaginative recreation,

What’s a scribbled signature worth?

In 2002 I was living in Berlin. One day my upstairs neighbour Peter told me he had just returned from outside the Hotel Adlon, having seen the self-proclaimed ‘King of Pop’ casually dangling a baby from a third-floor window. Peter was not there among the onlookers as a Michael Jackson fan but rather as a

The dark past of the pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge

A distinctive pattern of horizontal and vertical lines appears in the background of many of Eadweard Muybridge’s best-known photographs, giving his images of animal and human locomotion a strangely modern appearance, despite their being products of the 1880s. The lines also anticipate those adopted in the 20th century against which US criminals appear in police

When Decca records were part of everyday life

In 1929 in America, Dashiell Hammett published his debut hardboiled novel Red Harvest, over in Paris Buñuel and Dalí began showing their film Un Chien Andalou at a small cinema, while in Britain the fledgling Decca Record Company opened for business. Issued to mark 90 years of the label’s existence, this large format, fully illustrated

They just keep rolling along

At the end of 1969, teenage Rolling Stones fans reading the new Fab 208 annual could be forgiven for thinking that time wasn’t on their side: After five years as Britain’s most controversial group, how much more moss can they gather before they call it a day? Will we ever see the world’s most exciting

Loved and lost | 21 March 2019

On 19 June 1948, the modern LP was unveiled at a press conference by the Columbia Records president Ted Wallerstein, who, as Billboard magazine reported, ‘demonstrated listening qualities of both 10- and 12-inch vinyl microgroove platters’. The company issued Frank Sinatra’s long-player, The Voice of Frank Sinatra, a week later. The title of David Hepworth’s

The road not taken | 25 October 2018

In the 1970s, when Mark Kermode first picked up an instrument, the UK record business was a very different place. There were five weekly music papers — NME, Sounds, Melody Maker, Record Mirror and Disc. Around 15 million people tuned into Top of the Pops every Thursday; Radio 1 reached more than 20 million listeners

Getting their kicks on Route 66

In 1973, four years before he disappeared down the Star Wars rabbit hole, George Lucas directed the film American Graffiti, eulogising his days as a teenage car fanatic in Modesto, California; parking at drive-ins, hot-rodding and cruising for dates. This vanished world was only a decade away —‘Where were you in 62?’ said thepublicity —

Angels with dirty faces

The year 1971 was a busy one for Mary Whitehouse, self-appointed ‘Clean-up TV’ campaigner. Not only did she help establish the Nationwide Festival of Light, making religious inspired protests against the so-called permissive society, she also wrote an autobiography, Who Does She Think She Is?, published by New English Library. Thus her thoughts regarding the

War of words

At the close of the 1970s, I found a selection of postcards in an antique shop which had been sent from the Western Front in 1917 by a soldier named Private Howe to his young daughter Ena. I was struck by the immediacy of the language, and the careful avoidance of anything hinting at danger,

In cold blood

If you search Google Images for Ted Lewis, the results show an American jazz-age band-leader in a battered top hat, or the determined features of the world champion boxer Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis, the ‘Aldgate Sphinx’. In between falls a picture of the crime writer Ted Lewis perched on a stool at a cable-strewn film location

Days of frantic strumming

‘It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it,’ sang the Desperate Bicycles on their self-funded debut single in 1977, summing up the punk belief that you didn’t have to be the world’s best musician before getting up on stage or making a record. Twenty years earlier, a previous generation learned a similar message