British Rock Guitar
The first twenty years of British rock guitar,
the musicians and their stories.
by Mo Foster
BRILLIANT BOOK FROM MUSICAL RACONTEUR MO FOSTER!
This is Mo's second significant book and a worthy successor / follow-up to '17 Watts'.
Mo is a fabulous wit, writer and raconteur - he is a great story teller and here, he has assembled a host of stories from our top contemporary musicians about their own experiences in the business, along with stories of how they acquired their first guitar.
Some of stories will make you rock with laughter, others will make you squirm at the delightful naivety of the musicians concerned - who could imagine Rick Parfitt stripping off the jack plug on his guitar lead and replacing it with a conventional wall plug? Just priceless!!
As a read, it is fine for dipping into or to read cover to cover. The book is a heavy, well printed and bound hardback with a dust jacket.
It should ideally be adorning the coffee table of every serious musician and music fan in the land!
Magnificent and worth every penny!
Mo Foster is a highly respected session musician who has has played both in the studio and the live arena with an enviable roster of major names including Phil Collins, Van Morrison, Jeff Beck, Gerry Rafferty, Ringo Starr, Gary Moore, Joan Armatrading, the RPO and the LSO amongst many others. He has also played on numerous soundtrack sessions including For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, Revenge of the Pink Panther, Minder and Bergerac to name but a few.
He was part of jazz/rock trio RMS alongside guitarist Ray Russell and drummer Simon Phillips in the 1980s, by which time he had gained a reputation in player's circles for being a scrupulous collector of musicians' stories. He has put his many contacts, experience and story collection to extremely good use in his latest book, which builds upon his earlier volume 'Seventeen watts?' and presents a fascinating and comprehensive insight into both the British recording and performance world.
With a foreword by Hank Marvin and a superb array of photographs, illustrations and cuttings, this book serves wonderfully as both an introduction to backstage life for an audience member and rock era fan, as well as a welcome and often humorous reminder for musicians of colleagues, incidents and events in the British music popular industry from the late 1950s onwards.
Over 250 pages, the list of musicians involved is lengthy and impressive. And while guitarists feature heavily, understandably, instrumentalists from all genres and styles will enjoy and appreciate the recollections of and about Ritchie Blackmore, Clem Cattini, Eric Clapton, Herbie Flowers, Joe Brown, Lonnie Donegan, Vic Flick, Mark Knopfler, Brian May, Joe Moretti, John Paul Jones, Big Jim Sullivan and so many more.
A merited and valuable record of a major era in British music and social history, Mo is to be congratulated for collating and producing this work which will serve as a reference book for those wishing to learn what it was like to be at the heart of the industry at a time when British music influenced a generation.
" Another great read thundered through my letter box the other day from the venerable Mo Foster friend and renowned bass player, producer and composer who has worked with everyone including Jeff Beck, Ringo, Armatrading, Morrison, Gary Moore, Phil Collins and Hank Marvin to name a few.
Titled British Rock Guitar it is not only a good guide to the history of that instrument but stuffed full of funny stories, anecdotes and strange tales on the road and in the studio from super stars. Not just for musicians – much Mo."
"It goes without saying that the book will be a joyous success because it is intelligently written with wit and insight by my favorite bass player / gentleman / scholar … "
"Read most of the book and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Well done. The book is presented very well and will look good on any shelf or coffee table — when it's not being read."
"Good luck with the book, I'll push it up here and I have other friends at other universities I can recommend it to."
"I bought your book on the first week of release btw....a damn good read!"
"Gutted not to make it to the launch but I'm on the road with Steeleye Span! Yes I'm a folk rocker! It's great fun and I play a Strat, but fully clothed!"
"I love the book. It chimes at so many levels and brings back lots of memories."
"The indispensible pairing with Pete Frames 'The Restless Generation'."
The Birth of Rock Guitar
by Mo Foster
I found I was still awake after reading the full title of this book, which was obviously a good sign.
When Mo called to tell me his idea for this book, being an author myself (Rock 'n' Roll I Gave You All The Best Years Of My Life) available at all good second hand book shops, I thought to myself, 'good luck', with all the hard work I knew it would entail.
So here I am reviewing the result!
For those of us who were there and those of you who wished you were, quite simply this is a book you must rush out and buy now.
Anyone who has ever played a tennis racquet or air guitar or aspired to being a rock star will not be able to put it down. From the dawn of rock n roll all your favourite British players with their stories are here. With a wealth of infor-mation of how they started, what they played and the trials and tribulations of trying to become a 'pro' musician. The amount of detail is staggering, old photographs, the amps, record players (remember them?) guitars and newspaper adverts brought more than a nostalgic smile to my face many times. This was my whole life I was reading about, so many memories evoked by Mo's work.
Musicians all over the world, I have found, have their own way of looking at life, their humour is legendary and their anecdotes and sayings are told here with great affection and are very funny. After I had read the book I went to my studio and patted the old pink Strat. I can still recall the smell of the 1958 Fender catalogue from which it came.
As a man who has spent nearly forty years playing through an AC3O, never more than half on, I have to say Seventeen Watts is 'too much'. But what would I know, I gave up on Bert Weedon's Play in a Day because it was too complicated.
My thanks to my old mate Jerry Lordan for Apache and all that followed and to my friend Mo for a wonderful book!
"17 Watts?" Softcover Edition reviews
The re-vamped version of his book "17 Watts?" garnered many new positive reviews, here are a selection...
At a 1989 recording session the onomatopoeic Vic Flick, the guy responsible for that twangy lick on the 1962 007 theme, regaled bass guitarist Foster with tales of throat microphones and home radios converted into amps. This set Mo to wondering: 'Perhaps all the other great players had daft stories too', and hence he set sail to discover the nearly forgotten history of the rock guitar in the UK.
From the "quiet houses of the 1950's" before TV, CD, VHS and DVD he recreates a post-war world re-inventing itself with skiffle music, inky 'Practical Wireless' magazines, flip-over 78-45rpm stylus dansette Minor record players and home-made twelve-inch speaker cabinets with scrawny coffee table legs.
Mongrel guitars emerge via hire purchase, merchant navy uncles and pawn shops, with Bert Weedon's 'Play In A Day' the Rosetta Stone. With a cast including (randomly sampled, please note) Donegan, Sullivan, Page, Marvin, McLaughlin, Flowers and Moretti, here's your ticket to anecdotal heaven. Witness the advent of the Watkins Dominator amp with its two glorious ten-inch speakers and seventeen enormous watts, causing the orgasmic grunt: "Oh the thrill of all that power!"
Musicians will tingle at unlimited technical cornucopia and drummers will guffaw at optimistic management: "Stick with me and you'll fart through silk" and stories of showing respect for one's superiors: "I'll thank you to keep a civil tongue up my arse". Learn how, after take twenty, an edgy, head-in-hands, white-knuckle producer attempts to put a terrified young singer at ease: "Now relax, FOR CHRISSAKES!" A wonderful, near essential read.
17 Watts? - The Birth of British Rock Guitar - Mo Foster
Sanctuary Publishing £12.99
The praise that was heaped on this book when it was first published was simply enormous. Although subtitled The Birth of British Rock Guitar it goes way beyond that, well into the era of sophisticated studio techniques and endless sessions for some of the great names of British rock and pop music. Mo Foster is not only one of our top musicians he has a beautiful writing style that extracts the maximum humour from countless musical anecdotes. We loved the book when it was first published; now that it is in paperback there is absolutely no excuse not to buy it. It is, in fact, almost a history of popular music in Britain from the '50s onwards.
“The definitive, if not the only, book on early British rock guitar — a great read.”
“A personal and often very funny account of how the early rock stars grappled with the fact that nobody had the faintest idea of how to go about becoming a rock star because no-one had ever done it before. Such a good book"
“Poignant, hilarious stories of those who dreamed of stardom, but woke up in the van! I am honoured to be included.”
“An invaluable history of the British recording industry — bloody funny too! Musicians’ humour is unique. Hell, musicians are unique! A one-off book about a one-off business. Brilliant!”
“For those of us who were there and those of you who wished you were, quite simply this is a book you must rush out and buy now. Anyone who has ever played a tennis racquet or air guitar or aspired to being a rock star will not be able to put it down. From the dawn of rock n roll all your favourite British players with their stories are here. I’ve told a lot of people to buy it”
“A great book, and it's now one of my prized possessions.’”
“Never, since the arrival of rock music, has so much hearing loss been suffered by so many, caused by so few.”
"From Transit vans to tellies out the window, a fascinating story of human endeavour."
“It's funnier now than it was at the time”
“Mo Foster is not only one of our top musicians but he also has a beautiful writing style that extracts the maximum humour from countless musical anecdotes. We love the book, and there is absolutely no excuse not to buy it — it is, in fact, almost a history of popular music in Britain from the 1950s onwards.”
"At last - from someone who was there and who knows the truth - a lively, intelligent, articulate account of what happened in the reality of those uncanny, weird, and wonderful times. Nostalgia is often a fear of the future. This book exposes the so many commentators/eunuchs of the music industry to very careful scrutiny".
“So well written and very funny”
“Excellent and entertaining”
"I couldn't put it down"
He claims that he is now 'between retirements'.
"It's the bible".
“The ideal present for the air-guitarist in your life”.
“I bought mine yesterday and have hardly put it down since”
“I’ve really enjoyed your book — please write another”
“Foster’s Ring”: an indentation on the buttocks which occurs when reading a fascinating book in the toilet and all other thoughts are obliterated. An affliction described by
“You did me proud — it’s a lovely book and I send you my congratulations for a job well done.”
“Mo has captured a great era which comes to life with passionate depth"
"Funnier than Bill Bryson"
"If there's a book that captures the essence of the dawn of rock music in the UK, this is it!"
"It's a great fact-filled and photo-packed reminder of the times of high hopes and low tech"
"A humorous and nostalgic trip for those who were there, and a revelation for the youngsters of today to see just what crazy things their mums and dads got up to"
"I loved it. Its great strength is in the stories we haven't heard before. Great photographs as well"
"Top session bassist Mo Foster's book chronicles the rise of rock guitar from the late Fifties onwards. Accurate, well-researched and very, very funny. Highly recommended"
"Equally fun, witty and very informative, this is a smorgasbord of vintage guitars, road stories and true history. Highly recommended"
"The best Christmas or birthday present a musician could give to another musician".
“It’s wonderful. At last someone has written the ultimate history of the music business which we can dip into for years to come”
"It's not Mo's style to theorise about the musicology of the British rock scene, but his good-natured anecdotes all help build a true-life picture of a vital period in music that's all too often forgotten in our —still continuing — love-is-blind crush on all things American".
"For anyone who ever did the Shads Walk in their bedroom, this book will provide giggles and sniffles aplenty".
"You'll laugh. You'll cry. You won't want it to end. Make itthis year's holiday read. A humorous and nostalgic trip for those who were there, and a revelation for the youngsters of today to see just what crazy things their mums and dads got up to. Prepare yourself to be informed and amused. Go and buy a copy now - you won't be disappointed".
"The mere thought of questioning the need for 17 watts (the advertised output of the Watkins Dominator Amplifier) nowadays, where we regularly deal with outputs in increments of 100 watts, for me, sums up what the book is all about".
"A great mix of laughs and ah-yes-I-remembers".
“What a great Christmas present — you could spend a week and never touch the same spot again”
"From the fifties style cover to the hilarious anecdotes about some of the legendary names the book is a delight".