counter Live At the Brixton Academy: A riotous life in the music business - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

Live At the Brixton Academy: A riotous life in the music business

Availability: Ready to download

In 1982, aged twenty-three, Simon Parkes paid £1 for a virtually derelict building in Brixton. Over the next fifteen years he turned it into Britain's most iconic music venue. And now he's telling his story: full of fond - and wild - reminiscences of the famous musicians who played at the venue, including Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Lou Reed, The Ramones, New Order, the B In 1982, aged twenty-three, Simon Parkes paid £1 for a virtually derelict building in Brixton. Over the next fifteen years he turned it into Britain's most iconic music venue. And now he's telling his story: full of fond - and wild - reminiscences of the famous musicians who played at the venue, including Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Lou Reed, The Ramones, New Order, the Beastie Boys and The Smiths. This is about one man's burning desire for success against the odds, his passion for live music and the excitement of those wilderness years, a far cry from the corporate world that controls the scene today. From rock-star debauchery and mixing it up with Brixton gangsters to putting on the first legal raves in the UK and countless backroom business deals, this is the story of how to succeed in business with no experience and fulfil your teenage fantasies.


Compare

In 1982, aged twenty-three, Simon Parkes paid £1 for a virtually derelict building in Brixton. Over the next fifteen years he turned it into Britain's most iconic music venue. And now he's telling his story: full of fond - and wild - reminiscences of the famous musicians who played at the venue, including Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Lou Reed, The Ramones, New Order, the B In 1982, aged twenty-three, Simon Parkes paid £1 for a virtually derelict building in Brixton. Over the next fifteen years he turned it into Britain's most iconic music venue. And now he's telling his story: full of fond - and wild - reminiscences of the famous musicians who played at the venue, including Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Lou Reed, The Ramones, New Order, the Beastie Boys and The Smiths. This is about one man's burning desire for success against the odds, his passion for live music and the excitement of those wilderness years, a far cry from the corporate world that controls the scene today. From rock-star debauchery and mixing it up with Brixton gangsters to putting on the first legal raves in the UK and countless backroom business deals, this is the story of how to succeed in business with no experience and fulfil your teenage fantasies.

30 review for Live At the Brixton Academy: A riotous life in the music business

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark Love

    The Brixton Academy is a place of legend. From one of my forays to a sweaty London gig as a teenager (to see Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine in 1991) to finding myself living 5 minutes down the road 10 years later I've spent more sweaty nights there than I care to remember. So this book promised much, and delivered on all scores. This incredible account by the unique character behind it who went to school with Prince Andrew and then took on the Brixton yardies with only one arm tells the insid The Brixton Academy is a place of legend. From one of my forays to a sweaty London gig as a teenager (to see Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine in 1991) to finding myself living 5 minutes down the road 10 years later I've spent more sweaty nights there than I care to remember. So this book promised much, and delivered on all scores. This incredible account by the unique character behind it who went to school with Prince Andrew and then took on the Brixton yardies with only one arm tells the inside story of how he turned a disused chair store into the hippest venue in London, and hung out with everyone from The Clash to Public Enemy, Grace Jones, Bono, Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton in the process. But it's the small names, the unsung heroes and the backstage stories and dealings that make this book an essential read for anyone who has ever passed through it's doors. Wonderful.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jon Chaisson

    An entertaining and informative memoir from the former owner of one of Britain's most important and influential music venues. There's a lot about the music biz -- both the legit and the sleazy sides of it -- but there's also a lot about the neighborhood, the primarily West Indian suburb of southern London.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Debra Flynn

    Brilliantly written, witty and nostalgic. A must for anyone who knows Brixton or grew up in the Academy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    This is a memorable and insightful book, not just on the history of the academy but also on the community of brixton as a whole and the music business in general. Living in Australia, I have been fortunate enough to attend a concert at the brixton and the venue left me underwhelmed which was the opposite feeling to how the book made me feel.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Polly Sands

    I did enjoy this as a lifelong Brixton dweller and having grown up with the academy during this period. I went to a few gigs mentioned and love the venue. A very personal.account which is great to have an insight into. But, the writing isn't all that and it definitely could have been better edited. Still, thanks for the memories Simon Parkes!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ian Buckley

    Excellent. Such an interesting read. Thanks for creating what you did and then informing us all about it... some brilliant stories...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lolo García

    This is more about Simon Parkes, the man who started everything, but this is in no way meant to play down this story, as Parkes is the Academy as much as the Academy is Parkes. And I've really enjoyed throughout this trip to the story of music in Britain through the eyes of a venue which would become the heart of this South London neighborhood (where I had the immense luck to witness performances by The Pogues, Anthrax and Slayer, I must say!). Perhaps, on occasion, it may a bit too much of Parke This is more about Simon Parkes, the man who started everything, but this is in no way meant to play down this story, as Parkes is the Academy as much as the Academy is Parkes. And I've really enjoyed throughout this trip to the story of music in Britain through the eyes of a venue which would become the heart of this South London neighborhood (where I had the immense luck to witness performances by The Pogues, Anthrax and Slayer, I must say!). Perhaps, on occasion, it may a bit too much of Parkes "saving the day" but you can feel there's tons of honesty in his recount of show biz, as well as a valuable lesson to learn on that stuff as taken from someone who's been in the eye of the storm for so long. In the end, it feels more like a collection of articles, easy to read and enjoyable all the way. Also, 100% agree with Parkes reflections on music and showbiz after his last days at the Academy. Alas...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laurence

    I am absolutely gutted that I’ve finished this book. I’m a true live music nerd with around 17 years of gigs and concerts under my belt, and I’m extremely passionate about the history, workings and secrets of the industry. This book starts off with a personal background to Simon, but grows to be packed full of stories and anecdotes of his time at the Academy. The facts are outstanding, and the memories are mesmerising - I would go as far to say that this is my favourite book ever. Fantastic from I am absolutely gutted that I’ve finished this book. I’m a true live music nerd with around 17 years of gigs and concerts under my belt, and I’m extremely passionate about the history, workings and secrets of the industry. This book starts off with a personal background to Simon, but grows to be packed full of stories and anecdotes of his time at the Academy. The facts are outstanding, and the memories are mesmerising - I would go as far to say that this is my favourite book ever. Fantastic from cover to cover, and may even read it again...

  9. 4 out of 5

    James Scott

    The story is fascinating and it’s particularly amazing to hear what Brixton used to be like as a town. It doesn’t get 5 stars because it is quite poorly written and I found the author quite unlikeable and full of himself. Still, it’s a very quick and easy read so may be worthwhile.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Hutchins

    A fun little page turner. Lots of ridiculous rock n roll stories and larger than life characters. If you've enjoyed live music at some point over the last 30 years you'll get a kick out of this.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sam Street

    Shocked if this doesn’t get turned into a film one day. Some really crazy musical anecdotes. Quite inspiring at times, but mainly just a great memoir about a great venue.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Excellent venue, excellent book

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Goddard

    Best thing I've read in ages. I've read countless music biogs around the artists and management, but this stonking read from a venue owner's perspective is a real eye opener - superb!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kendall Scales

    I really enjoyed learning through this book and really glad Simon decided to write it. It opens the doors into the music scene for me, and not only that, sheds light to how business was done back in the 80/90s. Is quite remarkable that he managed everything he did, as he constantly states, being a naive white boy though you think would be detrimental, got him out of a few situations. Not only about the great artists and music but about a suburb that has been through a lot of gentrification to be I really enjoyed learning through this book and really glad Simon decided to write it. It opens the doors into the music scene for me, and not only that, sheds light to how business was done back in the 80/90s. Is quite remarkable that he managed everything he did, as he constantly states, being a naive white boy though you think would be detrimental, got him out of a few situations. Not only about the great artists and music but about a suburb that has been through a lot of gentrification to be what i know it is to be today, all thanks to this institution.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Neil Kernohan

    I received this book as a Xmas gift and read it in two sittings. It is a thoroughly enjoyable gallop through the history of the iconic (and my favourite) London venue. Simon Parkes, a Gordonstoun-educated son of a Northern fishing magnate, fell in love with the venue’s “dilapidated elegance of that art deco”. He tells how he bought the old “Brixton Astoria’s” lease from a top brewer company for merely a quid (in return for a deal on Watneys beer concessions) and hired a bunch of South London roug I received this book as a Xmas gift and read it in two sittings. It is a thoroughly enjoyable gallop through the history of the iconic (and my favourite) London venue. Simon Parkes, a Gordonstoun-educated son of a Northern fishing magnate, fell in love with the venue’s “dilapidated elegance of that art deco”. He tells how he bought the old “Brixton Astoria’s” lease from a top brewer company for merely a quid (in return for a deal on Watneys beer concessions) and hired a bunch of South London roughnecks to clean up the place and provide the necessary “security”. The book is a trove of lively stories about how he then built up the “Academy” brand, first through Jamaican reggae gigs and post punk New Wave and, later on, rap, dance/rave and Britpop. Throughout the 80s he contended with drug pushers, Brixton gangsters, Jamaican “Yardies”, and the cut-throat world of live music promotion in London. There is some interesting history about the old theatre at the start of the book. When it was built in 1929 the original theme of the Astoria was “the Mediterranean Night”. The proscenium arch was modelled after the Rialto bridge in Venice and the ceiling in the auditorium was decorated with twinkling stars to give the audience the impression of sitting under the Venetian night sky. As Parkes says “a bit of Venice in South London, who’d ever have thought it? And, of course, Parkes’ friendships with legends across the whole spectrum of pop, rock and dance music propel the narrative and keep you riveted. The names will be familiar to those who have stood over the years on that sloping floor: The Clash, The Cult, The Pogues, The Pixies, Run DMC, Motorhead, The Smiths, Primal Scream, The Happy Mondays and so on. Parkes closes the book with some comments about the relative decline of live music due to shifting priorities dictated by the corporate rock business “suits” and the rise of manufactured “identikit” pop groups who couldn’t play live (for example, the Spice Girls). Indeed, it could be argued that Parkes’ stewardship of the Academy from 1980 until the mid 90s saw out the last golden era of live rock’n’roll in London.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    Am a little lost for words when it comes to describing this book. Firstly, Mr Parkes should be dead. One gets the impression he got close to being murdered on more than one occasion. If there was ever a case for divine intervention, it is within the pages of this book. Not just in matters of life and death. The universe (and, unwittingly, Parkes) giving Lloyds Bank a lesson in justice is priceless. It is a wonderful insight into the music industry, as it was in the mid 1980's through the 90's. A l Am a little lost for words when it comes to describing this book. Firstly, Mr Parkes should be dead. One gets the impression he got close to being murdered on more than one occasion. If there was ever a case for divine intervention, it is within the pages of this book. Not just in matters of life and death. The universe (and, unwittingly, Parkes) giving Lloyds Bank a lesson in justice is priceless. It is a wonderful insight into the music industry, as it was in the mid 1980's through the 90's. A lesson in cultural changes between now and then for those that are too young to have lived through and experienced those changes. What else? Brixton, of course. Parkes bought this venue as Brixton was displaying bleeding wounds from the 80's riots. Of course, the most logical place to build a rock venue from scratch. No-one else would have done it. No-one else could have succeeded. On one level, it is a story of a nut job successfully doing something that shouldn't have been possible, with zero experience in the industry at the outset. On a deeper level, it is story of someone who was born to do something. It reminds me of a poster I had in my late teens, a simple pencil sketch of birds in flight, with the caption "they can, because they think they can". Is any of the above the reason why I bought this book? No, it is the reason you should read this book. I bought it as a music lover, not really knowing what to expect. I read it now because I'm going to a gig at The Academy in little under 2 weeks to see my childhood idol (I'd say teen idol, but I was only 10yrs old when I fell under a spell, which is still working). I'm so glad I did. Having a greater appreciation of how Brixton Academy came into being will add an extra frisson to the event, if that's possible. Thank you, Simon Parkes. (Barking mad though you undoubtedly are, but I probably don't register 100% sane myself, which maybe is why I find this tale so appealing).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Meera

    I don't completely understand all the 5* reviews for this on Amazon, as actually the writing in this book is pretty pedestrian, and I was expecting more 'juicy' rock n roll stories from a book like this. All I can think is that all the Simon Parkes fanboys who don't normally read books loved it! Simon Parkes is definitely a bit of a character, but I got a bit fed up of his whole 'Me, I'm just a geezer' schtick pretty early on. Also the blurb is misleading - although he may have bought the Brixty I don't completely understand all the 5* reviews for this on Amazon, as actually the writing in this book is pretty pedestrian, and I was expecting more 'juicy' rock n roll stories from a book like this. All I can think is that all the Simon Parkes fanboys who don't normally read books loved it! Simon Parkes is definitely a bit of a character, but I got a bit fed up of his whole 'Me, I'm just a geezer' schtick pretty early on. Also the blurb is misleading - although he may have bought the Brixty Academy for the ludicrous sum of a pound, it neglects to mention he then had to pay a 6 figure sum for rental and use of the building - so this was only really possible because he came from a very wealthy and privileged background where the banks would lend a young twenty-something with no experience that kind of money. There's a lot of repetitive encounters with various shady thugs or Rastafarians who threatens to kill him in Brixton, and with each encounter, Simon miraculously escapes by simply turning on the polite posh boy 'Tim nice but Dim' act, which confuses the hell out of the baddy, allowing him to talk circles around them. Hmm. What I did enjoy was reading about how Brixton Academy rose through the ranks to become one of the most legendary venues in London (and also one of my favourites, despite me hating big music venues, as Parkes explains, Brixty has a lot of attributes that get around that). I also enjoyed the changing face of Brixton and all the local detail, as a Brixton resident in its more salubrious times, it's amazing to consider how much its changed! Just a shame about all the Simon Parkes self-congratulation through the book about how savvy he'd been....

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark Farley

    Anyone who has ever been to London's best venue for gigs, the Brixton Academy in London, and has fallen in love with the basic simplicity and beautiful architecture and history of the venue will realise that a book from the man who took this dilapidated cinema at a cost of a POUND and made it into the most important live music venue in the city, if not the country will be essential reading. From incredible first and last gigs of legendary bands, the Brixton has hosted them all and every appearan Anyone who has ever been to London's best venue for gigs, the Brixton Academy in London, and has fallen in love with the basic simplicity and beautiful architecture and history of the venue will realise that a book from the man who took this dilapidated cinema at a cost of a POUND and made it into the most important live music venue in the city, if not the country will be essential reading. From incredible first and last gigs of legendary bands, the Brixton has hosted them all and every appearance has a shocking and intriguing story behind it, it seems. Simon Parkes started the venue from nothing and ended up putting on The Clash, The Stones, and hundreds of other classic moments in music history, including how the death of Kurt Cobain nearly bankrupted him and how he got out of it is worth the price of he book alone. Fans of all genres of music will love this book. Fans of the underworld and true crime will love this book too. This appealed to myself personally as the venue is my favourite and I have probably seen more bands there than anywhere else. All of these gigs were since the author sold the venue but still, I can sense the magic the venue has still. The magic that he lovingly describes. It's a story of love, the inner workings of the music industry and overcoming adversity, peppered with hilarious anecdotes, crazy gangland stories and tales behind some of the most infamous gigs the city of London has ever put on. A must read for any music fan!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Scott

    The 80's music scene, the Brixton academy. How a man bought a boarded up, run down venue in a part of London with a notorious reputation. Then over the next fifteen years he turned the place into Britain's most iconic venue. Behind the scenes of running the place, with security personal, the local police, the street gangs & gangsters. The music personalities & ego's. Rock star debauchery, legal raves, backroom business deals, plus of course all the memories of the famous people who played there, i The 80's music scene, the Brixton academy. How a man bought a boarded up, run down venue in a part of London with a notorious reputation. Then over the next fifteen years he turned the place into Britain's most iconic venue. Behind the scenes of running the place, with security personal, the local police, the street gangs & gangsters. The music personalities & ego's. Rock star debauchery, legal raves, backroom business deals, plus of course all the memories of the famous people who played there, including The Rolling Stones, The Clash, Public Enemy, The Smiths, Diana Ross, The Pogues. A great account of the times and of how to make it in the music business with no experience of popular music over the past thirty years.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emma S

    I had no idea of the relatively new nature of Brixton Academy as a venue before this; much less the extent to which Brixton itself was a no-go area in the 80s. For as long as I'd known, it was THE venue for bands; the place they stepped up from toilet venue stalwarts (as it still is). So this was a fascinating read, from Parkes' initial vision for that main room, to how he dealt with the - let's say for spoiler's sake - less salubrious parts of music promotion. It's not perfect; the repeated dis I had no idea of the relatively new nature of Brixton Academy as a venue before this; much less the extent to which Brixton itself was a no-go area in the 80s. For as long as I'd known, it was THE venue for bands; the place they stepped up from toilet venue stalwarts (as it still is). So this was a fascinating read, from Parkes' initial vision for that main room, to how he dealt with the - let's say for spoiler's sake - less salubrious parts of music promotion. It's not perfect; the repeated dismissals of 'the industry of today' tire a bit, and his repeat mentions of the reasons behind his failure to secure public money jar a little, but it's a memoir not a pure history book, after all. As someone who's seen many memorable gigs at the venue, though, I found it captivating.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Ah-mazing. Any and every musician you have ever loved probably paid a visit to the Brixton at some point in its storied career. And Simon Parkes does a fine job showing the less glamorous side of club ownership, from small time hustlers to big time gangsters. His guerrilla techniques to gain a toehold in the club scene were unheard of at the time, from bringing in the Clash during a miners strike to negotiating with the police for the first ever legal 24 hour rave permit. Watching him maneuver t Ah-mazing. Any and every musician you have ever loved probably paid a visit to the Brixton at some point in its storied career. And Simon Parkes does a fine job showing the less glamorous side of club ownership, from small time hustlers to big time gangsters. His guerrilla techniques to gain a toehold in the club scene were unheard of at the time, from bringing in the Clash during a miners strike to negotiating with the police for the first ever legal 24 hour rave permit. Watching him maneuver through increasingly dicey situations by the seat of his pants was an absolute joy. I was only too sorry to see the book come to its eventual conclusion. Riveting and highly HIGHLY recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rj

    I think this is bloody brilliant. I take my hat off to the ghost writer, and also to Parkes. I think this story is an inspiring tale of how to navigate life. Parkes is beautifully frank about how he used his advantages and how he tackled his disadvantages, how he was pragmatic, his open attitude to other people, his understanding of compromise and respect. I love his love for that building, the Academy was almost a character in itself. And what a lovely ending.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tasha

    I have loved the gigs I've been to at the Brixton Academy. Reading about the maverick Simon Parkes' business plan and gut instinct has been a nostalgia ride for me. I didn't go to any of the big gigs he mentions, I was too young at the time since he bought the venue the year I was born, but being there after he set everything up and seeing his hard work pay off was a pleasure every time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carl Rush

    Absolutely cracking read. After my disappointing experience of reading Mick Walls Lou Reed book I was nervy about picking up another rock n roll book, but this ticked all the boxes... Its set around the 90’s when I visited the Academy a lot - Raves and Grunge ruled. Brilliant brilliant page turner.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard K

    Good fun

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    interesting read about my favourite gig venue

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ronnie

    Loved it, a parallel to my moving to the area and made me remember many happy nights at the Academy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jon Tutcher

    Very entertaining book about the rise of the Brixton Academy through the 80s and 90s. Sensational and seems like a bit of an ego trip, but great nonetheless.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    Chronicles not only the renaissance of Brixton and the Academy's role in it but also the seismic changes in the music industry over last few decades.

  30. 4 out of 5

    tombardo

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.