I came to this book as many did, I suspect, because it featured on that list of David Bowie’s 100 favourite books which circulated a couple of years ago. (The list also is explored in a podcast, if you’re interested.)
It makes sense that Bowie would be a fan of this work, given that it’s an enthusiastic, bitchy exploration of early rock. After all, the work is titled for Little Richard’s protean good-time yawp from ‘Tutti Fruitti’, the song that made Bowie “see God”.
After a couple of years of looking, I found a copy replete with terrifying cover. It was written in 1968 and revised in 1972. Kit Lambert, erstwhile manager of The Who introduces the work and sets things rolling: the text covers a brief period in music, but one of supreme importance for everything rock-related that came afterwards. All that’s covered is the period from Bill Haley’s initial popularity until 1966 – that’s it.
That’s what I glean from Catie Gilchrist’s presentation of life through the coroner’s lens. Sydney, while not exactly a prison colony at the time, was still not really that cosmopolitan a place. With medicine and policing both rough and ready, corpses, violence and things taken care of in a how’s-yer-father manner, there was a distinct seat-of-one’s-pants approach to life and the grim reaper. (more…)