Roots, Radicals and Rockers

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ISBN 9780571327744 Format Hardback
9780571327744
Paperback
Published 01/06/2017 Length 448 pages
448

About Book

Roots, Radicals & Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World is the first book to explore this phenomenon in depth – a meticulously researched and joyous account that explains how skiffle sparked a revolution that shaped pop music as we have come to know it.

It’s a story of jazz pilgrims and blues blowers, Teddy Boys and beatnik girls, coffee-bar bohemians and refugees from the McCarthyite witch-hunts. Billy traces how the guitar came to the forefront of music in the UK and led directly to the British Invasion of the US charts in the 1960s.

Emerging from the trad-jazz clubs of the early ’50s, skiffle was adopted by kids who growing up during the dreary, post-war rationing years. These were Britain’s first teenagers, looking for a music of their own in a pop culture dominated by crooners and mediated by a stuffy BBC. Lonnie Donegan hit the charts in 1956 with a version of ‘Rock Island Line’ and soon sales of guitars rocketed from 5,000 to 250,000 a year.

Like punk rock that would flourish two decades later, skiffle was a do-it-yourself music. All you needed were three guitar chords and you could form a group, with mates playing tea-chest bass and washboard as a rhythm section.

Roots, Radicals & Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World is the first book to explore this phenomenon in depth – a meticulously researched and joyous account that explains how skiffle sparked a revolution that shaped pop music as we have come to know it. It’s a story of jazz pilgrims and blues blowers, Teddy Boys and beatnik girls, coffee-bar bohemians and refugees from the McCarthyite witch-hunts. Billy traces how the guitar came to the forefront of music in the UK and led directly to the British Invasion of the US charts in the 1960s.Emerging from the trad-jazz clubs of the early ’50s, skiffle was adopted by kids who growing up during the dreary, post-war rationing years. These were Britain’s first teenagers, looking for a music of their own in a pop culture dominated by crooners and mediated by a stuffy BBC. Lonnie Donegan hit the charts in 1956 with a version of ‘Rock Island Line’ and soon sales of guitars rocketed from 5,000 to 250,000 a year. Like punk rock that would flourish two decades later, skiffle was a do-it-yourself music. All you needed were three guitar chords and you could form a group, with mates playing tea-chest bass and washboard as a rhythm section.
  • About Billy Bragg

    Billy Bragg has been a tireless recording artist, performer and political campaigner for over thirty years. His albums include his punk-charged debut, Life's a Riot with Spy Vs Spy, Talking with the Taxman About Poetry, Don't Try This at Home, the treatise on national identity timed to coincide with the Queen's Golden Jubilee, England, Half English, and his stripped-down latest, Tooth and Nail. Billy has enjoyed a No. 1 hit single, had a street named after him, been the subject of a South Bank Show, appeared onstage at Wembley Stadium, curated Left Field at Glastonbury, shared spotted dick with a Cabinet Minister in the House of Commons cafeteria, been mentioned in Bob Dylan's memoir, and shaken hands with the Queen. At their best, his songs present 'the perfect Venn diagram between the political and the personal' (Guardian). Billy published A Lover Sings with Faber in 2015, containing over seventy of his best-known lyrics, selected and annotated by the author.

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