Part 2 (of 12): The Lewisohn and Rogan connection

Published March 30, 2010

Flash forward to 1988 and the publication of what must be my all-time favourite Beatles book: The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn. I can still remember the sense of revelation as I turned page after page of this fantastic book and learned the background stories of the songs I had loved all my life, finding out how they were created - not to mention learning about the unreleased songs and alternate takes that existed in the archives. The book was also beautifully designed, conveying a great sense of atmosphere with the aid of archival documents and photographs that were almost exclusively related to the subject of the book: the recording sessions.

Two important books: The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn...A few months later, I also snapped up an earlier title of Lewisohn's which was just about to go out of print, entitled The Beatles Live! This was an exhaustive documentation of each and every concert The Beatles had ever been known to play. Like The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, this book was the result of an amazing research effort. For instance, Lewisohn was the one who pinned down the exact date when John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met each other (this particular piece of information was originally published in Philip Norman's Beatles biography, Shout!). Most notably, although both books were based on hard facts and plenty of detailed information, Lewisohn had managed to make them readable and entertaining.

About a year later, I bought another important book in this story: the paperback version of Johnny Rogan's Starmakers And Svengalis, which dealt with the history of British pop management. This book fascinated me on two levels. Firstly, I thought it was such a refreshingly unusual subject for a book. Instead of having to trawl through the all-too familiar career trajectory of the typical rock band, this book tackled a very important subject for the music business: the often very dramatic lives and careers of a number of British managers.

...and Starmakers And Svengalis by Johnny Rogan. They were the catalysts that inspired me to start writing music books. Secondly, almost as fascinating as the book itself was Rogan's Acknowledgements and Introduction, where the reader could learn exactly how much work and personal sacrifice had gone into the writing of the book. In the Acknowledgements Rogan wrote about his "obsession to complete this book without a prior commission", thanking friends who had "provided fictitious addresses and telephone numbers when I was homeless and intimidated". In his Introduction, Rogan described how he had gone about creating the book. "Before even beginning the marathon interviewing sessions," he wrote, "I had to read through every British weekly music paper from 1954 to the present." He then went on to explain how, after several years of hard work and countless interviews, a manuscript of 1084 pages had been restructured and edited down to a more manageable size. Now, that's what I call dedication!