Welcome to 1973...
This is a year in which everyone seems to be saying goodbye. At the start of the year, Leonard Cohen comes to London to say that he is deeply troubled by the music business, and that he’s planning a dignified exit. Later in the year Neil Young says much the same. Eno leaves Roxy, as Ronnie Lane does the Faces. David Bowie, meanwhile, apparently quits music altogether.
Those that remain, however, reap some rich rewards. Bands like Led Zeppelin, The Who, or our cover stars Pink Floyd have now all escaped their niches in the previous decade, to flourish in a new context. Zeppelin play to more people than ever before, duly making an enormous amount of money. Floyd do likewise, but are more troubled by their conscience and by their past.
For Floyd, the absence of Syd Barrett (and the mental unrest that led to his absence) is articulated in one of the most successful records of all time. Perhaps in homage to a man who was not there, the band themselves fail to appear at the launch for ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’.
1973 also brings dramatic new arrivals. The Wailers, and their frontman Bob Marley have suffered hardships in the Jamaican music business, but now finally found a patron who will treat them fairly. In New York, the singer Bruce Springsteen is signed by John Hammond – the man who took a chance on Bob Dylan. At a bizarre engagement in New York, Springsteen and Marley play a show together.
This is the world of The History Of Rock, a monthly magazine which follows each strange turn of the rock revolution. Diligent, passionate and increasingly stylish contemporary reporters were there to chronicle them then. This publication reaps the benefits of their understanding for the reader decades later, one year at a time.
In the pages of this ninth issue, dedicated to 1973, you will find verbatim articles from frontline staffers, compiled into long and illuminating reads. Missed an issue? You can find out how to rectify that by checking our generously-stocked online shop.
What will still surprise the modern reader is the access to, and the sheer volume of material supplied by the artists who are now the giants of popular culture. Now, a combination of wealth, fear and lifestyle would conspire to keep reporters at a rather greater length from the lives of musicians.
At this stage though, representatives from New Musical Express and Melody Maker are where it matters. Several miles above Mexico with Bob Dylan. In hospital with Robert Wyatt. Watching as Captain Beefheart meets George Best at dinner.
Join them there. We’ll get your table ready.