All About….

Photo0003English author Dave Thompson has spent his entire working life writing biographies of other people, but is notoriously reluctant to write one for himself.  Unlike the subjects of some of his best known books, he was neither raised by ferrets nor stolen from gypsies.  He has never appeared on reality TV (although he did reach the semi finals of a UK pop quiz when he was sixteen), plays no musical instruments and he can’t dance, either.

However, he has written well over one hundred books in a career that is almost as old as U2’s… whom he saw in a club when they first moved to London, and memorably described as “okay, but they’ll never get any place.”  Similar pronouncements published on the future prospects of Simply Red, Pearl Jam and Wang Chung (oh, and Curiosity Killed The Cat as well) probably explain why he has never been anointed a Pop Culture Nostradamus.  Although the fact that he was around to pronounce gloomily on them in the first place might determine why he was recently described as “a veteran music journalist.”

Thompson was born in Bideford, Devon; raised in Hoo St Werburgh, Kent; and schooled in Bournemouth, Dorset.  He gravitated to London in time to catch the last days of glam rock (and once had the trousers to prove it), and he remains convinced that “American Pie” was written by Fanny Farmer and is best played with Meatloaf.  He lists his five favorite artists as old and obscure; his favorite album is whispered quietly and he would like to see Richard and Linda Thompson’s “I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight” installed as the go-to song for the sad, sappy ending for every medical drama on TV.

Sylvain Sylvain, Kurt Cobain, Phil Collins, Alice Cooper, Joan Jett, David Bowie, John Travolta, Eric Clapton, Jackson Browne, Bob Marley, Roger Waters and the guy who sang that song in the jelly commercial are numbered among the myriad artists about whom Thompson has written books; he has contributed to the magazines Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Mojo and Melody Maker; and he was also regular guest on WXPN’s Highs in the Seventies show.

His non-musical output includes titles on The Rocky Horror Show, Robin Hood, Jack the Ripper, Doctor WhoThe Twilight ZoneSouth Park and a number of numismatic and philatelic titles… which surprises anyone who knows him only for pop groups.  In addition, a reprint of his novel To Major Tom debuted Foruli Books’ fiction line. And he once wrote a book called I Hate New Music.  Because he often does.

20 thoughts on “All About….

  1. Hi Dave 🙂 Great to see another rock nut is on wordpress. 🙂 Your work looks really interesting, even though I haven’t come across many of your titles myself. I’ll be sure to look harder in future. 😀

  2. Just finished Wall Of Pain. Great insights, but I find myself still determined to make a musical hero of the guy. Much looking forward to Ronnie’s UK tour.

    1. I agree. If artist was to be condemned/dismissed because of whatever else has happened in their life, there really wouldn’t be many left to like. Leadbelly was a murderer too.

  3. Any chance of a Pere Ubu biography some day? Somehow Wikipedia doesn’t quite fill out their story, and the ubuprojex web site is a bit scattered in its approach…
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for something from you. Thanks for all your great work!

  4. Dave,

    I played Linda Ronstadt’s Heart Like a Wheel backwards last week in iTunes (it was sorted by date added so last song was the first to play) and i (re)discovered You Can Close Your Eyes. I see you are quoted in Wikipedia:

    “According to music journalist Dave Thompson, producer Peter Asher, who produced both Taylor’s Mud Slide Slim and Ronstadt’s Heart Like a Wheel, reinvented the song for Ronstadt.[1] Thompson considers it a “highlight” of Heart Like a Wheel.[1]”

    I cannot agree more.. that album captured my imagination when it came out (i was born in 1964) and now i have made it my goal to master the piano arrangement that Peter Asher and Andrew Gold developed and do a cover in my home studio, playing all instruments and vocals. Found and purchased the sheet music online last night, though i’m not really a pianist.

    But of course this has led me to you and your oeuvre. Going to scan your book list and order a few from Amazon!


    Christopher Martin
    Redwood City, CA

    1. I thought for a moment you played it literally backwards (the Satanic messages are in the title track by the way) – but glad you enjoyed it, and my words struck a chord. Good luck with the arrangement – I agree; it’s one of PA’s best.

      1. Well Played, Dave!! Turn me on Dead Man!!!! BTW, the reason i got the sheet music is there are very nuanced chord voicings that normal chord charts and tabs out there do not get into! Thanks, and what book was that quote from, i need to get it!

      2. It’s from “Hearts of Darkness: James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Cat Stevens, and the Unlikely Rise of the Singer-Songwriter” (published by Backbeat Books in 2012) – there’s a fair amount of early Linda in there, and Peter Asher too.

  5. Hey Dave,
    In your excellent Goldmine review of Wreckless Eric’s “amERICa” album, you mention that one of his records was in your opinion the best of it’s resoective decade.
    Just wondered which one you were referring to?
    (Catching up on Eric’s back catalogue before I see him play live at the weekend!)

      1. Hi Dave…I was reading a review of yours on Dexy’s “Don’t Stand Me down” and realized how much I enjoy your writing and went from there. Glad to find you (if I have). (Happy Birthday coming up)! I’m a big fan of Eric’s. He’s a very good friend and collaborator… a true artist. Le Beat Group Electrique is my favorite. Life changing for me. Anyway…you have a big fan in Atlanta, Georgia. Thanks for what you do.

  6. Dave
    Thanks a lot for taking the time to reply.
    II’ll try to check out the Len Bright Combo lp.
    (And the Captains Of Industry. Hopefully Fire! will reissue that too.)
    Basically, I need to get Eric’s full discography!
    All the best!

  7. Hi Dave. Doing a lot of catching up on your career and numerous books. Can I find somewhere a download of the songs from the CD that came with the “Seance at Syd’s” ??
    Thanks Greg

  8. Is there any mention of Gentle Fire in the ICES book? Also, are there any photos by Michael Dunn included?

    1. Yes, they’re covered during the Day Two report. There’s also coverage of Naked Software (featuring Hugh Davies) and their performance later in the festival. No photos by Michael Dunn.

  9. Hi Dave – May I ask: do your books cover musicians’ private lives, as well as the music? I’ve got a blogpost investigating the rumour Jackson Browne beat Daryl Hannah. (I think he probably didn’t.) One thing held against him is Joni Mitchell’s song, ‘Not to Blame’, which is widely believed to accuse Browne of physical abuse. There seems to be no substance to that accusation, but it continues to damage Browne. Mitchell is still extremely bitter about Browne (as in the 2017 authorised biography). The question (my question, anyway) is: why? In an interview about his song ‘Fountain of Sorrow’ (widely believed to be about Mitchell), Browne said, ‘It’s about the fact that when you fall in love with someone, when you’re brokenhearted, you don’t see them as a person.’ Was he saying that during his relationship with Mitchell, he was still heartbroken from a previous relationship? Was it his continuing focus on a previous lover that so distressed Mitchell. I can’t find any information about who Browne was seeing before Mitchell. Does your book on Browne and others cover that kind of detailed personal information? Cheers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s