Saturday, October 29, 2022


 This was the launch party on November 1st 2001 for Rock's Back Pages and Paul Gorman's oral history 'In Their Own Write'. Pictured are three of the very best music writers namely Charles Shaar Murray [with Anna Chen], Vivien Goldman and Chris Salewicz. I wasn't interviewed for the book but I was mentioned twice. There was Jonathon Green talking about Frendz :'Dick Lawson was the rock 'n' roll editor... and there was people like John May, who later worked for NME and was a real journalist, writing lots of very informed and radical stuff.' Chris said; 'John was very good as Dick Tracy. He started the film section with what was called Silver Screen and he was quite instrumental in changing the paper'.

Paul Gorman has returned to the subject with a 360 page whopper of a book that traces the whole history of music papers, magazines and fanzines starting with Melody Maker which was first launched in 1926. New Musical Express  came in 1952 and within a couple of years it had a circulation of 100,000 while MM was selling 97,000. They were soon joined by two other weeklies Record Mirror and Disc. All had a different take on the pop scene. MM was jazz, blues and folk and they were not interested in the new rock 'n' roll.

In the States there were two trade papers -Billboard and Cashbox and the jazz journal Downbeat which had been founded in 1934. In the 40s and 50s these were joined with a string of teen mags - Seventeen, Dig, 16 and Hit Parade, which switched from pop to rock 'n' roll.

By the 1960s there was a dozen weeklies aimed at the 5 million teenagers in Britain that made up 15% of the population who were using their spending power to buy records and record players.

In the States apart from the teen mags a new kind of music mag was emerging  which was more concerned with the aesthetics of rock. Paul Williams' Crawdaddy  lit the touch paper, says Gorman, 'for a cerebral strand of music criticism that was to play out for decades in the American press'. This led to Rolling Stone  which marked a real sea change with writers like Greil Marcus, Lenny Kaye, Lester Bangs, Ben Fong-Torres alongside the new journalism of Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson.

The underground press that emerged in the '60s in the US and the UK provided another platform for music journalism and record company advertising kept many of them in business. For a brief time there was a British edition of Rolling Stone which morphed into Friends then Frendz. Gorman judges it to be the best when it comes to music coverage. In the early '70s when most  of these papers closed down Nick Kent and photographer Pennie Smith left Frendz, Charles Shaar Murray left OZ, and all joined the NME to be followed by Mick Farren  from International Times and myself. Those were great times to be around. 

The great late Ian MacDonald said NME had most of the best writers and photographers, the best layouts, a sense of style and human and the feeling of real adventure. Mick Farren (now also no longer with us) said 'NME had an incredible pass-on rate. We could claim 900,000 readers at the peak'. 

NME ignored punk for a while but fanzines flourished and Sounds was on it with the great Jon Savage alongside Vivien Goldman on dub. Gorman is good on the subject of the women journalists who had to fight to hold their own in a very male driven atmosphere, Penny Valentine  being one of the pathfinders.

The inky papers were always in competition with each other as sales fluctuated and music styles evolved. But in 1978 when Nick Logan left the editorship of the NME he created the first of new kind of music mag which was a bigger threat to their survival.  Smash Hits  was a colourful magazine which combined glossy star shots with the actual lyrics of the new releases. Within a short time it was selling 100,000 copies, just 35,000 less than the NME and 10,000 more than the MM.

Post-punk had arrived and with that came Neil Spencer as the new editor of the NME and what Peter York called the'pale boys' a new generation of writers like Paul Morley and Ian Penman who used a style of literary criticism to write about experimental bands like Cabaret Voltaire, Human League, Joy Division and others. Readership figures fell by some 40,000.

Meantime Nick Logan used family money to launch The Face  a completely new styled mag combining music and fashion for the New Romantics. It's huge success marked a decisive shift away the previous music papers.

 In 1984 Smash Hits was selling 500,000, NME 120,000. Sounds 80,000, Record Mirror 70,000 and Melody Maker 68,000. 

Smash Hits was edited by David Hepworth who hired Mark Ellen as his Features Editor. This duo went on to create a string of successful titles including Q, (which lasted for 34 years) Mojo, Heat and The Word. They felt the post-punk bands had an inflated sense of their own importance and that pop stars were absurd.

Hard on their heels came a string of others: Blitz  was a challenge to The Face; Kerrang was the bible for metal heads, Collusion was for world music lovers. From the US came Details, Wet and Andy Warhol's Interview amongst many others.

The golden days of music papers has passed although my local newsagent still carries MojoUncut, Record Collector and expensive definitive magazines on major bands like Led Zep as well as punk and heavy metal titles. In his Epilogue Gorman writes: 'Despite the substantial odds stacked against them over the course of the 2000s and 2010s, music magazines continued to emerge, albeit on a micro level'.

This review can only skim the surface of this very large and detailed history which is a definitive work that will stand the test of time.

Visit the Generalist Archive and click on the Dick Tracy banner to see many of the stories I wrote for the NME

Saturday, October 08, 2022

Rock's Diamond Year


This the fourth new book I have reviewed recently which documents the history of the pioneering musical venues, largely clustered around the Thames and South West London and Soho, which were to introduce electrified fock and blues music into Britain. This includes Eel Pie Island and other venues in Richmond, the string of Ricky-Tick clubs on London's outskirts and, most importantly, The Ealing Club where 60 years ago Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies began the British R & B scene with a band called Blues Incorporated on the 17th March 1962.The make-up of the band was fluid and many of its members went on to create other influential bands. Ronnie Wood is quoted as saying: 'The Ealing Club and Blues Incorporated were heavy influences of just about everybody, but especially of Fleetwood Mac, Cream, the Yardbirds, Manfred Mann, John Mayall and the Pretty Things.'

'Rock's Diamond Year' is a condensed and valuable collection of profiles and personal reminiscences about the venues and bands. This is the territory and the time when the Rolling Stones not only came into being but also played a huge number of gigs. The Crawdaddy Club in Richmond was particularly important in these early days as was Giorgio Gomelsky who had worked in the music industry in the UK Europe and the US and helped the band find their feet and build an audience. There's a really good profile of him here which adds fresh information to the story of the Stones rise to fame.

The Bull's Head in Barnes was another significate venue which was I was unaware of. It is described as 'a magnet to the cream of the British folk movcment' as well as R&B bands. The book ends with essays on the Ricky-Tick Clubs, The Marquee and the 100 Club. Illustrated throughout with some good black and white photos from the period, this is readable and valuable addition to the ongoing investigation into Britain's musical history.

Friday, October 07, 2022

2001/Rob Godwin/Space and Music

 Here at The Generalist Archive we love things like this email which arrived out of the blue from Rob Godwin in Toronto.

Hello John,

'Just watched your talk at the Printing conference on Youtube. Really interesting. It made me decide to reach out to you.[I didn't know at that time that a talk I'd given at the University of Westminster about mimeograph printers and the Underground Press had been filmed.]

'We have a few things in common. I briefly worked with Lucasfilm, ran Hawkwind's record label in the USA for five years, I have a pretty good collection of Friends/Frendz going way back to my misspent youth. I write and edit for a living, including books on science, spaceflight, science fiction and music. I'm also a historian on various aerospace history committees.

'About two years ago I decided to start writing a paper (not a newspaper, but a "paper" to submit at a conference) about the crossover between the Space Race and rock music in the 60s and 70s. The limit for such a paper was only 15 pages, and by the time I got to 50 pages I knew it would likely never see the light of day. However, I can't give it up because it has become too much fun. It roams around between primitive astronomy, pirate radio, underground press, alternative clubs, Kubrick, Ginsberg, Stockhausen and of course Hawkwind.

'I've drilled down to the point where I realised that Space Ritual was the nexus for all of this stuff and it has become the focal point of my essay. I believe you were on the road (and the stage) for some of the early shows.  I read about you in a copy of The Snail (I think) from the start of the tour. I missed the Space Ritual tour by a few weeks (I was at a show in Southampton the previous August). I wondered if you might share any anecdotes about those nights?'
All the best
Rob Godwin


 A day or so later we had at least a two-hour phone conversation which was followed by an exchange of further messages over the following weeks.

First stop was Rob Godwin's Wikipedia entry which is impressive and extensive and complete with References and numerous External Links. Rob set up his own music business and publishing operation and produced a large number of books and publications on space and music.

Between 1987 and 1998 Collector's Guide Publishing released books on many different rock artists including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Kate Bush, Alice Cooper, Wishbone Ash and Kiss.

In 1998, at the invitation of astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Godwin would begin his imprint Apogee Books.

Between 1998 and 2018 Apogee Books published over 150 book titles about space flight with contributions from Buzz AldrinSir Arthur C. ClarkeTom HanksRon HowardDavid R. ScottHarrison Schmitt and Wernher von Braun

In addition vintage science fiction and 40 NASA Mission reports

Action on TV/Video and web


Rob promised to send me two books both entitled '2001: The Lost Science'. Some while later a large package arrived from C.G. Publishing, 2045  Niagara Falls Blvd containing the two oversized books.

You can purchase copies here:

2001:The Lost Science/Introduction



Adam K. Johnson

In January 1965, while staying at the Harvard Club in Manhattan. Frederick I. Ordway Ill arranged a social meeting with his 'old friend' Arthur C. Clarke. The next day, at Clarke's insistence. Ordway. and his associate Harry Lange, met with famed film director Stanley Kubrick who quickly invited Ordway to be the Senior Science advisor on his proposed new science fiction epic provisionally entitled 'Journey to the Stars'. Within two days. the project that would eventually evolve into the film '2001: A Space Odyssey' emerged from the meeting between the four men.

 In the following 2 I/2 years spent working on the film, Stanley and Frederick worked painstakingly on a daily basis to ensure scientific realism. Working at the zenith of the 'space race' their efforts drew upon the most current space travel 'hard science' available. 

Between January and August 1965, working from Stanley's New York Office "Hawk Films" (also known to the contractors as Polaris Industries). Fred contacted a multitude of companies known to be on the forefront of aerospace technology and asked for their assistance on the film. By Early 1966, over one hundred companies had submitted engineering and design proposals to aid the vision of Kubrick and Clarke. 

This book is intended as a companion to viewing the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as a resource for modern day aerospace engineers interested in how the proposed 21st century technologies might have worked if so implemented. 

Creating the designs for the film involved over 2400 detailed schematics that were drawn 4 x 6 feet or 3 x 5 feet. These drawings were saved as blue-line prints using ammonia based blue ink that replaced the original pencil or ink lines. Over time. this blue ink fades, and if exposed to light, completely vanishes. The U.S. SPACE & ROCKET CENTER archives still possess about 100 of the known existing 200 blue-line prints (in various states of condition) created for 2001. 


2001: THE LOST SCIENCE/Scientists, Influences and Designs from the Ordway Estate


(From Left)Harry Lange: Spacecraft designer and Set designer
Arthur C. Clarke: Writer and researcher
Fredrick I Ordway III: Scientific consultant

Volume 2 of material from The Ordway archives profiles the space flight pioneers and the long history of space craft imagined if not built over many years. This book is packed with blueprints, backstage photos. Kubrick spent two years researching everything he could on the subjects of space flight and alien intelligence decided to have the top scientific minds interviewed for his film. He examined all past science fiction movies.

In this book's Introduction Adam K. Johnson writes:

Ordway and Lange bought a massive collection of rocket and space science data from the Future Projects office (Marshall Space Flight Center) in Huntsville, Alabama to Borehamwood studios. This was later referred to as 'NASA East' by the Kubrick team. Even after arriving in England, during the preproduction stages, the team continued to collect aerospace data from all of the British contractors. Much of the concept information is here in this second volume of 2001: The Last Science. It is important to know that the best scientific minds on earth contributed to these designs.

Fred Ordway created and sustained relationships and correspondence with all all the individuals described in this book. Through these connections he was able to document the history of rocketry and space travel accurately in his writings.

Fred Ordway's collection is extensive and has taken many years to collate, identify and catalog. For example, his 'pulp' science fiction and fantasy stories collection (over 900 editions) were donated to Harvard University. His 2001 collection went to the USSEC and the remainder...stayed hidden in his private residence until his passing in July of 2014. This book represents a glimpse into his private work, research and studies into the history of space travel. It has been a joy and honour to 'discover' all these well-hidden artefacts waiting for their stories to be told. Most importantly, it was an honor to spend time with Fred. Our similar backgrounds in aerospace and out interest in science  fiction made our relationship wonderful.'

2001: A Space Odyssey/Frederick I. Ordway III/Stanley Kubrick/Adam Johnson



In 1964 master film-maker Stanley Kubrick began his epic campaign to make the best science-fiction movie ever made. Already well-known for his remarkable ability to absorb and understand massive amounts of complex information, 

Kubrick set himself the goal of reading every book, and watching every movie available, on the subjects of space flight and alien intelligence. Having convinced himself that it would be possible to accomplish his unique vision he promptly surrounded himself with the best experts in the world. 

His main collaborator, scientist and fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, had already sold Kubrick the rights to several of his short stories; one of which was named The Sentinel. Clarke's short story concerned mankind's first encounter with proof of extra-terrestrial life. Kubrick would use this as the template for his screenplay. 

In January 1965 good fortune would smile on Kubrick and Clarke when a chance meeting at the Harvard Club in Manhattan would lead to the recruiting of Fredrick Ordway III and Harry Lange. 

These two experts had been working in the office of NASA's future projects in Huntsville, Alabama and had coincidentally just completed a book called Intelligence in the Universe. Within two days Kubrick had persuaded Ordway and Lange to join his production team. 

Stanley Kubrick's meticulous attention to detail would be well-served by Ordway and Lange who were both connected at the most intimate levels with virtually every major aerospace company in the world. 

Drawing on an unprecedented well of talent and resources Ordway and Lange would bring the science to Kubrick's set. Whatever detail Kubrick needed, the contractors provided; from giant centrifuges, to robotics, to spacesuits. 


I asked Rob for more information as to who Ordway and Johnson were. He wrote:

I was very close friends with Fred for the last 15 years of his life. I met him at the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission. I had been reading his stuff for years before that. When Fred found out I was writing and publishing Space books he asked me if I would republish his NY Times bestseller "The Rocket Team", which I jumped at.

Fred used to be Wernher von Braun's speechwriter in the 1950s and 60s.

He was the absolute epitome of the American gentleman. Polite and dignified to a fault. I never heard him raise his voice or say a bad word about anyone.

Incredibly knowledgeable. He had one of the largest collections of space and science fiction books in America before he ever met von Braun. When America began its space program Fred got a job at Reaction Motors. At the time von Braun was still a prisoner in the US desert.

As progress began on rocketry Fred was writing journals and news sheets and magazine articles.

 Eventually when von Braun was "rehabilitated" and given work to do for the US Army he met Fred and asked him to come and work for him. For a young engineer it was the opportunity of a lifetime to be brought into the heart of the rocket and missile program. 

Von Braun quickly realised that Fred knew everybody, including the Soviets, because Fred was the only American in attendance at the first international astronautical congress in Paris in 1950.

He was one of the main people who brought the world's peoples together to explore space peacefully because he was an officer in US Air Force intelligence and he used to meet with Soviet colonels in Greenwich Village where they would feed him information about what they were doing. This allowed him to have almost unique perspective on every missile and rocket system in the world.

Eventually when von Braun was allowed to travel, and make appearances, he got Fred to prepare and write his speeches because Fred had both the knowledge and the clearance.

Later in his life Fred was condemned by some people for working with the "Nazi", which was very sad. Fred was a liberal democrat. Kubrick initially considered approaching von Braun for 2001, but for obvious reasons chose not to. When Arthur suggested to Kubrick that he call Fred, that's what he did. The rest is history.

I introduced Adam to Fred. Adam was a keen 2001 enthusiast and had spent some time digging through Fred's enormous archive, which Fred had donated to the US Space & Rocket Center. He asked me to help him, so I did.

 I am currently writing Fred's biography which he asked me to do before he died.



When 2001 opened in 1968 the critical reviews were mixed. Kubrick had deliberately understated every single message in his story, often leaving his viewers and the critics baffled. But as time has passed the critics have honed their observational skills and gradually come to realize that 2001: A Space Odyssey is truly one of the greatest accomplishments in cinematic history. 

In the last four decades Kubrick's triumph has been dissected in books and theses from every conceivable perspective and until humanity actually encounters extraterrestrial intelligence, his movie will continue to draw attention to this most tantalizing subject. 

However, what is often overlooked in all of these critical studies is the almost flawless scientific facade constructed by Kubrick, Clarke, Ordway, Lange and the hundreds of other engineers and scientists who contributed to the production. 

Author and engineer Adam Johnson has spent years accumulating information, believed to have been long since destroyed, to create a detailed and unprecedented analysis of the technology envisioned in Kubrick's masterpiece. From British designers and model-makers to Soviet astronomers; from Canadian special effects wizards to German artists; from American spacecraft engineers and artificial intelligence scholars to French stylists; this is the Lost Science of 2001

Sleeve notes and email from Robert Godwin