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INTERVIEW WITH MARTIN C STRONG, AUTHOR OF “THE GREAT ROCK BIBLE”

DISS: Why after a succession of “Rock” (and other) “Great Discography books did you decide to embark on The Great Rock Bible?


Martin: Well, firstly, I always wanted to do a stand-alone “biography” book on the main acts of Rock (and pop, I suppose). After Canongate Books (Jamie Byng) released me from a long contract in 2009, and Birlinn Books fell out over the publication of a third “Folk” (Celtic) book, I decided on doing a website; I called it the Great Rock Bible.com.

It began in October 2012 as a small enterprise, but the administrator (a so-called friend), literally pulled the plug on it in summer 2015. I met other interested parties and started it all over again, this time aiming it at a commercial enterprise. To cut a long, long story short, this went awry for one reason or t’other on 12 January 2021 at the peak of the Covid chaos, and I had to tearfully shut it down that May. All the time and energy lost to cyberspace.


But then after dusting myself down from a very bad place, I decided to compile a book on paper; I had done the process years ago and I was doing nothing else apart from looking for work and trying to keep up a self-employment scheme. Canongate Books were approached first, but after having had published 15 big books in the past, they said “it was not a Canongate book”. By accident I stumbled upon Mick Middles who wanted Joy Division and New Order discographies. He asked how much I wanted paid - I said just give me the name of your publisher. That name was Red Planet Books, and during the past few years or so I’ve been in contact with its sole entrepreneur Mark Neeter. LINK: https://redplanetmusicbooks.com


Because of the huge content in the rest of my books, I had a book consisting of well over 4,000 pages. I initially called it “Never Mind The Great Rock Discography… Here’s The Great Rock Bible”, as it totally usurps anything bad that I achieved with said publisher. I had to split the book four ways. The first of them: The Great Rock Bible: Old Testament (1920-1976) would be published first; yes, a little bit delayed; the companion-piece second: The Great Rock Bible: New Testament (1976-2024) for 2025; and the other two affiliated “Discography” tomes. All meticulously updated, revised and corrected.


I thank you Phil for tasking the task of writing many biogs on the subject of jazz and second-division prog-rock. I could go on but I’ll stop there.


DISS: So how long have you been writing about music, and can you describe a typical day.


Martin: Well, for one thing, I stopped writing the crux of the book last February when I became increasing ill from anxiety, depression, agoraphobia and the one, I battle against these ailments each day, but the agoraphobia had helped me work 12-16 hours a typical day, every day, while I was in lock-down. I’d rather not talk about that but some days I win, some days I lose. What you see in the book is a product of a content man enjoying some music (not all the time) and just getting on with it. My good friend made a quote: “it won’t do it irself!”.

I began the Great Rock Discography (then called “The Book of Discographies”) back in the very early 80s, so that’s over forty years. I’m now bald; have been for decades, and am 63 and still striving for recognition, even though my past books (for Canongate!) sold over a third of a million copies, plastered all over ‘t’internet’ and I have a Wikipedia page and many reference pointers within.

 

DISS: What makes The Great Rock Bible different from your previous books (published between 1994 and 2011)?


Martin: Well, The Great Rock Bible is not a discography book with potted biographies. No, it’s a Biography book with the Discography incorporated within it: each album is more or less in chronological formation featuring ratings from 0 and 0.5 to 9.9 and 10 stars (*); followed by a review in varying lengths, depending on the LPs importance.


DISS: How would you describe your target audience?


Martin: That’s simple enough. Everyone. Everyone who loves listening to music, knowing about said act and willing to expand their horizons on “rock” and other genres; and I’ve mentioned ALL the genres with this easy-to-read A-Z book of 1072 pages. I learned some new every day I was writing the book; no one knows everything; especially not me. In reality I hope to entertain over 1,000 readers and fulfil a life-long ambition to make a living from it – again.


DISS: How do potential buyers purchase the first book - your first in 13 years?


Martin: Well, you’ll see a link to Red Planet Books and you buy it straight from the publishers; no middle-man bookshop taking a large percentage like in the past. At the moment in discount form at 25% off £100, it’s the price of 3 vinyl LPs.


DISS: What do you think about the book cover?


Martin: (winks): I wouldn’t judge a book by it – that’s for sure. What’s within its binding is the important thing, and I’ve rather got used to used, and it’s “out-there” - in so many ways. Love peace and happiness to my close family and loyal friends (some included on my Facebook pages).

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