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Alan Clayson

Alan Clayson

Alan Clayson is the author of over 30 books. These include biographies of Jacques BrelSerge Gainsbourg and the Troggs, plus Death Discs, the subject of a programme he scripted and hosted on BBC Radio 2 – plus the bestsellers Backbeat, Beat Merchants and a history of the Yardbirds. A 2002 tome concerning classical composer Edgard Varèse led to Gail Zappa appointing Clayson to pen a life of her late husband. He has also contributed to such diverse journals as Rock ‘N’ Reel, The Guardian, Mojo, Sunday Times, Mediaeval World, Guitar & Bass, Vintage Rock, Hello!, Record Collector and, as a teenager, the notorious Schoolkids issue of Oz.

In the late 1970s, Clayson was spoken of in the same sentences as the likes of Tom Robinson, John Otway, Elvis Costello and Wreckless Eric. Indeed, Melody Maker decided he "occupies a premier position on rock's Lunatic Fringe" in the light of his impact and that of his accompanying Argonauts. "Alan Clayson and the Argonauts were one of rock's most glorious and enjoyable follies," averred Rock ‘N’ Reel, "and somewhere there is a parallel universe where they are bigger than the Beatles."

Clayson compositions have been covered by Dave Berry (in whose backing group Clayson played keyboards in the mid-'80s), Stairway and Jane Relf. He has worked too with The Portsmouth SinfoniaWreckless Eric, Dick Taylor, Jim McCarty and Screaming Lord Sutch among others.


Alan Clayson online

21 articles

By Artist | By Date

List of articles in the library by artist

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke: Tony Ashton, 1946-2000

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 19 July 2001

BORN OF A musical family in Blackburn, Ashton grew up in Blackpool. Before leaving school at 15, he was already a competent pianist and organist, ...

Charles Aznavour – 10 of the best

Guide by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 2 October 2018

France's leading musical ambassador, who died on Monday, was admired by such disparate entertainers as Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and sometime Sex Pistol Glen Matlock. ...

Syd Barrett, 1946-2006

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 11 July 2006

Former lead singer of Pink Floyd whose drug-induced breakdown and reclusive retirement created a musical legend ...

Bloodstone, David Bowie, Chicken Shack, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall, Rocky Sharpe & the Replays, Mike Vernon: Mike Vernon: Beyond the Blue Horizon

Retrospective and Interview by Alan Clayson, unpublished, 2015

If known chiefly as a blues paladin, Mike Vernon plunged headfirst into many other – often unexpected – musical waters. Alan Clayson investigates. ...

Blues Incorporated, Jack Bruce, Cream, West, Bruce & Laing: Jack Bruce, 1943-2014

Obituary by Alan Clayson, Joel McIver, The Observer, 26 October 2014

Composer and bassist who found early success with Cream and went on to perform as a soloist and with many other artists ...

James Brown, Bobby Byrd: Bobby Byrd, 1934-2007

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 9 October 2007

James Brown's right-hand man for 20 years ...

Martha Carson, 1921-2005

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 14 February 2005

BORN IRENE Amburgey, the second of three sisters, Martha Carson was a guitarist in a troupe, led by her father, that entertained at functions close ...

Kevin Coyne, 1944-2004

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 6 December 2004

KEVIN COYNE was a singer-songwriter respected by his contemporaries but lacking their chart success. Nevertheless, largely through Radio One presenter John Peel's championing, he built ...

Skeeter Davis, 1931-2004

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 1 October 2004

Blending country music with mainstream pop ...

Freddie & The Dreamers: Freddie Garrity, 1936-2006

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 22 May 2006

Clowning pop star with a series of '60s hits – and a zany dance – to his name ...

Gary Glitter: Rock 'N' Roll Part 3? Gary Glitter's future

Comment by Alan Clayson, unpublished, 2017

IN 2015, 74-old Gary Glitter began a sixteen-year prison term for crimes that, seemingly, were beyond the prerogative of a rock star's outlaw chic. This ...

Heinz, John Leyton, Joe Meek, The Tornados: Geoff Goddard, 1939-2000

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 25 May 2000

Innovative songwriter in an era before the Beatles ...

Speedy Keen, Thunderclap Newman: Speedy Keen, 1945-2002

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 6 July 2002

SPEEDY KEEN, who has died suddenly aged 56, was a mainstay of Thunderclap Newman, the pop outfit responsible for the anthemic 'Something In The Air', ...

Mickie Most, The Yardbirds: Mickie Most

Retrospective by Alan Clayson, unpublished, 2004

"The only gift I had as a producer was finding the right song. I felt I knew how it should be done and, after that, ...

The Mothers Of Invention: Jimmy Carl Black, 1938-2008

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 4 November 2008

Drummer and sometimes lead vocalist who worked with Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart ...

Tim Rose, 1940-2002

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 12 November 2002

Singer best known for his 1967 version of the anti-nuclear song 'Morning Dew' ...

Screaming Lord Sutch Is Alive And Well And Living At Number Ten...

Retrospective by Alan Clayson, unpublished, June 2012

...10, PARKFIELD ROAD, South Harrow, that is – where the mere mortal christened David Edward Sutch had tumbled out of bed just prior to the ...

Jake Thackray, 1939-2002

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 28 December 2002

Original lyricist and founding father of the English chanson. ...

Charles Trenet: BOUM!: The Life And Art Of Charles Trenet

Obituary by Alan Clayson, unpublished, February 2001

A MORE TIDY-minded author might portray Charles Trenet (1913-2001) as a French Noel Coward. A multi-faceted talent, he was best known for combining qualities of ...

The Troggs: Reg Presley, 1941-2013

Obituary by Alan Clayson, The Guardian, 6 February 2013

REG PRESLEY was the singer and principal songwriter of the Troggs, the group that put the Hampshire town of Andover on the pop map with ...

List of genre pieces

1968 and all that

Memoir by Alan Clayson, unpublished, 2018

50 years later, Alan Clayson recalls a pivotal year of a '60s that was far from Swinging. ...

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