Synopses & Reviews
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 Heinemanns 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 Phillipss seminal work with Chess and Sun Records
· John Hammonds 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 Blackwells 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.
"In his first book, freelance writer and record producer Murphy captures the ever-changing nature of the record industry as it ebbs and flows with trends, technology, and time. Beginning with the invention of the phonautograph in 1857 and tracking the evolution of recorded sound from the LPs to CDs and now MP3s, Murphy covers the most important music recordings of the past 150 years and the many companies that brought those records to the public. He lets the record execs, producers, and talent scouts tell their own stories, giving this work a personal feel and providing music lovers with firsthand accounts of how many great artists were discovered, what it is like when labels fight over bands, and the perilous nature of being a record label that is either too big or too small. Still, for every Walter Yetnikoff and David Geffen, there are countless others whose stories are less about sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, and more about units sold. That's why Murphy is smart to balance out the business of marketing and selling music with colorful, behind-the-scenes stories about artists like Dylan, Jim Morrison, and Michael Jackson, who not only made great music but whose actions and personas are just as entertaining as their tunes. 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. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A must-read for any music lover.”
—Parade.com, “20 of the Summers Best Books”
“The book is more than an index of famous names and iconic record labels. Its 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.”
“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-persons historical go-to, but may just very well become a cornerstone of the genre.”
"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.”
“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.”
“Gareth Murphys 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.”
"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
Cowboys and Indies is the definitive record business bible, chronicling the pioneers who set the stylus on the most important labels and musical discoveries of the last century. The narrative follows all the musical trends and developments, from the phonograph to the internet age, as it delves behind the big business of corporate hit machines and the diligent industry of small, curated labels. Drawing from memoirs, archives, and over one hundred exclusive interviews with the legends of the record industry including the founders and CEOs of Virgin Records, United Artists, Atlantic Records, and A&M, this book reveals the secrets behind the hit making craft.
Cowboys and Indies focuses on the game changers - the indie founders, talent scouts, the legendary A&R men - believers who understood the music business was two distinct parts; first music, then business. An industry insider himself, Gareth Murphy culls numerous behind-the-scenes anecdotes to bring together a clear genealogical map of the record industrys international 130 year history. Among its revelations, Cowboys and Indies highlights the remarkable similarities between the industry crash in the 1920s and 30s and the recent CD crash.
Witty and evocative, Cowboys and Indies offers a fresh panoramic view of the cycles and grooves of pop music and is sure to top the charts with music industry classics like Hitmaker and The Mansion on the Hill.
About the Author
Gareth Murphy was raised in Dublin surrounded by music and the musicians with whom his father worked as a concert promoter. A graduate of University College Dublin, Murphy has worked at various record companies and has produced thirty electronic compilations. Composing and producing original music, he is a freelance writer and researcher for journals and think tanks. Murphy lives in Paris with his wife and four-year-old son.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1. Talking Machines
3. His Master's Voice
5. The Invisible Wave
7. Dead Sea Crossing
8. Homesick Medicine
9. Sun Rise
10. Lucky Children
12. The Invasion
14. A Slow Eclipse
15. Terra Nova
16. On Black Canvass
17. Forbidden Fruit
21. The Island
22. High Tide
24. Sodom & Gomorrah
30. Bubblegum Forest