Dave Laing

Dave Laing is Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Popular Music, University of Liverpool and a journalist, editor and lecturer. His books include The Sound of Our Time (1970), One Chord Wonders (1985), and The Da Capo Companion to 20th Century Popular Music (1990,with Phil Hardy) and Buddy Holly (2010).



"Charlie Gillett – Sound Citizen of London"

The author of The Sound of the City was based in London for over 40 years until his death in 2010. During that period, the city became a global metropolis of the creative industries, including music.

Making use of material from Gillett’s unpublished memoirs, this paper considers the significance of this factor in three key facets of his overall achievement as journalist, author, broadcaster, artist manager, label owner and music publisher. Firstly, London’s distance from the United States shaped Gillett’s early obsession with the Other of American music. This ‘outsider’ perspective enabled him, for example, to confidently demarcate the ‘five styles of rock ‘n roll’ in The Sound of the City and continued to drive his love affair with the music of the South throughout the 1970s, as a radio presenter on the BBC local station in London.

Secondly, the radio show drew him into contact with the London pub rock and new wave scenes. After recording sessions for the show with various unsigned acts (including Mark Knopfler and Elvis Costello) Gillett became an early manager of Ian Dury, co-owner of an indie label (Oval Records) and music publisher of various hits. Finally, London’s position as a postcolonial city made it an early hub of the’ world music’ scene, within which Gillett became an influential player as DJ and CD compilation expert. He collaborated in the 1989 meetings of independent labels that saw ‘world music’ chosen as a genre title and promoted African music through broadcasts on the BBC’s World Service.

My Speakers Sessions

Saturday, March 24

11:15am EDT