A raucous yet reflective look back at the evolution of the music press and the passionate rock and pop journalists who defined the music of the 20th century.
Totally Wired is the definitive story of the music press on both sides of the Atlantic, tracing its rise and fall from humble beginnings nearly 100 years ago. Along the way, this potent creative breeding ground for scores of writers, publishers, photographers, designers and music-makers tested the very limits of journalistic endeavour and influenced the wider worlds of film, media and pop.
Focusing on developments from the 1950s to the 2000s, a period that witnessed rock ‘n’ roll, mod, the Summer of Love, glam, punk, pop, reggae, dance music, R&B and hip-hop, Paul Gorman chronicles the stories of individual magazines from their Tin Pan Alley beginnings and the countercultural foundation of Rolling Stone and the underground press. He explores the 1970s heyday of NME, Melody Maker and Sounds plus such punk-rock publications as Sniffin’ Glue and Temporary Hoarding; tracks the emergence of dedicated monthlies Q, The Face and Mojo as well as dance-culture independents like Boy’s Own and Jockey Slut; and spotlights feminist and Riot Grrrl ‘zines Ben Is Dead and Girlfrenzy along with the rise of media by and for people of colour, from Black Music and Black Echoes in the 1970s to The Source, Vibe and XXL in the 1990s. Evoking the music press’s kaleidoscopic visual identities, Totally Wired is illustrated with rare and legendary magazine artwork throughout.
Painting a complete picture of the scene, Gorman discusses the role played by such writers as Lester Bangs, Charles Shaar Murray and Nick Kent in the development of the careers of, among others, David Bowie, the Clash and Led Zeppelin. He also tackles the entrenched sexism and racism faced by women and those from marginalized communities by highlighting publications and individuals whose contributions have been unfairly overlooked.
The resulting narrative, containing stories of unbound talent, blind ambition and sometimes bitter rivalry, makes Totally Wired a riveting and roller-coaster read.