Writing – The Roy Harper biography.
After having produced a series of Sci-fi novels and my Rock Music failures I had this idea of doing a Roy Harper biography. I’d been friends with Roy since 1967 and been to hundreds of his concerts. When living in London I used to catch two or three gigs a week, was at his recording sessions at Abbey Road and regularly popped round to his flat.
Since then we’d both moved. Roy had moved from Kilburn to Brixton and I’d moved to Hull. We saw a lot less of each other but I still hitch-hiked to gigs of his in York, Leeds and Liverpool. At that time we couldn’t afford a car.
I met up with Roy and shared my enthusiasm. I hit him at the right time and he was keen. He agreed.
I was ecstatic.
I organised what I was going to do. Roy came to stay a number of times and I recorded our interviews on a grotty old tape deck. It was appalling sound. We had a great time doing them. He was completely outspoken and honest.
I then made transcripts of the tapes and began organising the book.
I’d promised Roy that I would be completely up front and open; if there was anything he did not like I would omit it.
I showed him the raw transcripts and I could see he was not happy. He was not so keen. It had personal information about his mother and family that he was not sure he wanted putting out while people were still alive.
I put the biography idea to one side. We decided a book focused around the songs would be in order. I set off again.
Writing – The Roy Harper lyric book in Four Volumes.
Over the course of the next twenty years I worked on and off on the Roy Harper Lyric Book. My idea was to feature the Harper lyrics on one page and opposite have photos, explanation, anecdotes and gig talk to illustrate.
A lot of the lyrics were autobiographical so the story could come out through the songs.
I went to visit in Brixton and then in Spilsby in Lincolnshire, where he had moved to in order to escape the traffic congestion of the city, and finally to Ireland where he had set himself up with a house and studio.
We recorded tape after tape and I have thirty C90 tapes full.
Making the transcripts was slow and painful. I had to press play, type with my one finger, and rewind. It took forever.
I started patching things together and the project grew into four volumes. I had the finished article and gave it to Roy. He was happy with it. He called me up on stage and presented me with it, introducing me to the crowd and telling them it would soon be out. I released extracts from the book in the Roy Harper magazine Hors D’ Oeuvres.
It was going well. There was a final visit to Ireland to tidy up ends. We had a few disagreements about including some of the lesser songs and flow charts.
Then it went wrong. Roy decided it wasn’t right. He pulled it and produced his own book of lyrics.
I was stunned. I’d had twenty years working on it. I had hopes of it being a springboard to get my other writing out there.
I threw it in my crowded bottom drawer and moved on.