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The business of pop as told by the mavericks, hustlers and swindlers who turned hits into untold riches (and ruined a few careers on the way). With plenty of inside dope, this is a delicious trip into making it and faking it in the music biz. — Charles Bottomley
Cowboys and Indies is nothing less than the first definitive history of the recording industry on both sides of the Atlantic.
From the invention of the earliest known sound-recording device in 1850s Paris to the CD crash and digital boom today, author and industry insider Gareth Murphy takes readers on an immensely entertaining and encyclopedic ride through the many cataclysmic musical, cultural, and technological changes that shaped a century and a half of the industry.
This invaluable narrative focuses especially on the game changers---the label founders, talent scouts, and legendary A&R men. Murphy highlights:
· Otto Heinemann's pioneer label Okeh, which spread blues and jazz "race" records across America
· how one man, Henry Speir, discovered nearly all the Delta blues legends (Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Son House, Tommy Johnson)
· Sam Phillips's seminal work with Chess and Sun Records
· John Hammond's discoveries (Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen)
· the behind-the-scenes players of the British Invasion
· Clive Davis, Ahmet Ertegun, David Geffen, and the corporate music machine
· the Machiavellian moves of punk impresario Malcolm McLaren (Sex Pistols)
· Chris Blackwell's triumphs for Island Records (Bob Marley, U2)
· Sylvia Robinson and Tom Silverman, the hip-hop explorers behind the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa
...and much, much more. Murphy also offers a provocative look at the future through the ruminations of such vanguard figures as Martin Mills (4AD, XL Recordings, Matador, Rough Trade) and genre-busting producer Rick Rubin (Run-D.M.C., Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Johnny Cash).
Drawing from memoirs, archives, and more than one hundred exclusive interviews with the legends of the record industry, including the founders and CEOs of Atlantic, Chrysalis, Virgin, A&M, Sub Pop, and Sire, this book reveals the secret history behind the hit-making craft. Remarkable in scope and impressive in depth, Cowboys and Indies chronicles the pioneers who set the stylus on the most important labels and musical discoveries in history.
London born but Dublin raised, GARETH MURHPY's childhood under the rain swept skies of Ireland, was enlivened by his father's work as a pioneer concert promoter. Living in a large old house which also served as an office organising gigs for the likes of Thin Lizzy, the Ramones, the Clash and Tom Waits, the author as a boy, attended a Catholic school run by nuns who dictated lessons into his Nature copybook; “Giraffes come from Africa. God made Africa.” At the weekends, he ran around the Dandelion Market, an indoor bazaar where his mother ran a vintage clothes stall amongst vinyl dealers, pin sellers and junk merchants.
Studying the family record collection, hanging out back stage, bumping into pop stars in the kitchen, young Murphy watched the animated conversations between music business characters. In the summer of Live Aid, he watched his father construct a matchstick model stage and roof which, the following year, U2 bankrolled into the world standard rig used by every big act of the stadium rock era.
Graduating from UCD with a degree in History & Philosophy, he travelled around India as a guitar-picking poet, then settled in France, where a vibrant electronic music scene was rising up from the underground. Working at various record companies, including as the Buddha Bar in Paris, he has produced thirty electronic compilations and witnessed the digital revolution at first hand. Composing and producing original music, he is a keen writer and researcher for journals and think-tanks. Holidaying regularly in Ireland and his wife's native city of Essaouira in southern Morocco, he lives in Paris, the proud father of a three year old son.
“A must-read for any music lover.” —Parade.com, "20 of the Summer's Best Books"
“Murphy's exhaustive research is complemented with an engaging prose…[the] account highlights a cast of fascinating characters, and it's these, individual stories, and anecdotes that make Murphy's book as engaging as a good TV-show can be, and a worthwhile read for any scholar of music, history, and society.” —Future of Music Coalition, "Our Favorite Music Books of 2014"
“The book is more than an index of famous names and iconic record labels. It's a humanistic, historical and cultural approach to an iconic industry. Mr. Murphy shows the business behind the music, and the music behind the business -- a rare and insightful treat.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“This lovingly written book…is a celebration of the indie heroes who shaped the industry while giving groundbreaking artists a platform… Like the Last Shop Standing of record labels, Cowboys And Indies tells their story.” —Record Collector, 5 star review
“A new, impressively wide-ranging history of the record biz.” —Eric Alterman, The Nation
“Indeed, the very backbone of what makes Cowboys & Indies so compelling is the stories that wind up making the careers of these numerous figureheads....he has ended up crafting a hell of a book that over time may not only become any music-person's historical go-to, but may just very well become a cornerstone of the genre.” —PopMatters.com
“A fascinating account of the way recorded music has evolved, touched people and helped shape popular culture as we know it today.” —Sir George Martin, legendary record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer and musician
“Record labels, at their best, are invariably driven by the taste, the personality, and the ambition of one man, or woman - this book fascinatingly charts their course, their perversity, their bloody mindedness. It's those men, those labels, that found and broke the artists who have created our musical world.” —Martin Mills, founder of Beggar's Group
“Just when you thought the record label beast was dead and buried, along comes Gareth Murphy with a tour de force that makes you almost want to dance with that devil again. Through COWBOYS AND INDIES, new artists will get a sense of history that will enlighten their success and lessen the pain of being ripped off!” —Andrew Loog Oldham, Rolling Stones producer, Immediate Records founder
“Murphy captures the ever-changing nature of the record industry as it ebbs and flows with trends, technology and time... He lets the record execs, producers, and talent scouts tell their own stories, giving this work a personal feel and providing music lovers with first-hand accounts of how many great artists were discovered, what it is like when labels fight over bands, and the perilous nature of being too big or too small... Through setting out to document the lineage of the record industry, which he's done, Murphy has as well created a history of popular music told from the inside out to give music fans and historians a new and dynamic perspective of this oft-covered topic.” —Publishers Weekly
“Cowboys and Indies details the juicy history and monumental egos of record companies…[it is] a fascinating subject and is packed with interesting facts …a worthwhile read.” —Montreal Gazette
“Gareth Murphy's Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry comes just as billed…this is a rich and rewarding tale, a survey course on the history of recorded music.” —Relix Magazine
“Snappily-written...The result is the ever-evolving story of the record industry and thus of popular culture itself...it is indispensable as a single-volume overview...it's an immensely satisfying appetizer, served up on a platter of paper instead of vinyl.” —The Houston Press
“Spectacular, compelling, evocative - this book places you at the heart of the record industry's defining moments. Far more than a recounting of the history, it's an artful and long-overdue look at the fantastic characters, companies, and shifting cultures that have given birth to the soundtrack of modern life. Essential reading.” —Craig Kallman, CEO at Atlantic Records
“Thought I knew everything about the music business. Must admit, I learned quite a bit inside these pages. Highly recommended!” —Seymour Stein, co-founder and chairman of Sire Records
“Cowboys & Indies passionately tells the story of those driven individuals who trusted their own taste and instincts and, in turning a deaf ear to the commonplace, gave shape to the world of modern music. Essential reading!” —Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra
“If this book was a group, I would definitely sign them. It is that good.” —Geoff Travis, founder of Rough Trade