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The London Boys (Hardback)

David Bowie, Marc Bolan and the 60s Teenage Dream

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Biography Hobbies & Lifestyle > Music P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 20th Century P&S History > Social History World History > Europe World History > UK & Ireland > England > London

By Marc Burrows
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 264
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399008433
Published: 11th November 2022
Last Released: 16th January 2023

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Rock n roll fanatics, mods, beat group wannabes, underground hippies, glam rock icons: David Bowie and Marc Bolan spent the first part of their careers following remarkably similar paths. From the day they met in 1965 as Davie Jones and Mark Feld, rock n roll wannabes painting their manager's office in London’s Denmark Street, they would remain friends and rivals, each watching closely and learning from the other. In the years before they launched an unbeatable run of era-defining glam rock masterpieces at the charts, they were both just another face on the scene, meeting for coffee in Soho, hanging out at happenings and jamming in parks. Here, they are our guides through the decade that changed everything, as the gloom of post-war London exploded into the technicolour dream of the swinging sixties, a revolution in music, fashion, art and sexuality. Part duel-biography, part social history, part musical celebration of an era, The London Boys follows the British youth culture explosion through they eyes of two remarkable young men on the front lines of history.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Loved this book ! It was so Interesting and just impossible to put down !

A vital piece of musical history.

NetGalley, Lauren Pavey

I’m a Bowie and Bolan obsessive. I love them both, equally.

Resultantly I have read pretty much everything available on the two artists. It was a no brainer that I would purchase this book but I honestly wasn’t prepared for just how great it is.

The research is incredible and it’s written in a style that I like to term ‘academically entertaining’ meaning it’s a serious and detailed overview with an emphasis on encouraging page turning. And a page turner it is.

It is a balanced story of both men with fairness and humour in the writing but it is so much more. A look at the social and cultural 60’s and the experiences that shaped both men.
The study of the stars sexuality during the period under consideration is worth the cost alone.

Honestly this the most entertaining biography I have read in many years. The fact that it’s subjects are my two favourite artists of all time is the icing on the cake.

You should be so proud of yourself Marc Burrows for producing such a flawless gem. Please ensure that there is a second volume covering the 70’s.

Amazon Customer - Stephen Lloyd

Some good work and research has gone into this book, and it's one I would happily recommend to anyone.

Read the Full Review Here

The History Fella

A well documented and well overdue look at the friendship and rivalry of two music game changers David Bowie and Marc Bolan and the creation of glam rock.
Meeting as teenagers in 1965, and growing up in post-war England, the London Boys played gigs, survived disappointment after disappointment yet persevered to bring color and imagination to a once dreary world.
Marc Burrows research and numerous interviews sheds a new light on Bowie and Bolan. From the genesis of being yet another new name in the swinging London scene to planting their individual roots at a time of rejuvenation, creativity, style, culture fashion and yes, androgyny this is a view of these quickly changing times through their eyes.
This dual Bowie/Bolan journey takes us to ‘Space Oddity’ and ‘Ride the White Swan’. This reader would love the author to brings us into the next chapter of these influential artists.

NetGalley, Susan Derbacher

Fabulous insight for all music lovers alike!

NetGalley, Michelle Coates

The London Boys is a very satisfying read. It’s both meticulously written and a page turner, and while, invariably, it covers old ground, it does so with a fresh standpoint. With the book ending in 1970 – as the pair stand poised on the brink of stardom – volume two is just begging to be
written. 4/5 stars.

Sarah Gregory writing for SHINDIG! Magazine

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Mark Feld and David Jones had much in common both were born in 1947 both were brought up around the bombsites of a war torn London, both would grow up to be rockstars, and both made a change to their names one would be known as Marc Bolin, the other known as David Bowie.

The London boys covers the highs and lows of both their lives, along side their careers, but not only that it also covers the social history of the time.

The author Marc Burrows has created a fascinating and informative biography of both their lives and I'm going to recommend to quite a few music lovers I know who will be interested in reading it to.

NetGalley, S Ballinger

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Loved it. A wonderful and insightful look at, not only two cultural legends, but at a specific era in time too. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but I would if it was all like this.

NetGalley, Katy Brent

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The London Boys by Marc Burrows is not so much a biographical look at Bowie and Bolan (though that is a central element) as it is a look at how a generation born into the destructive aftermath of war transformed themselves, their city, their country, and indeed the world through their music and their taking on and shedding of various personae.

If you're of a certain age (as in old, like me) this will be nostalgic to some degree. Most of the stories involving Bowie and Bolan will be familiar, but probably not in the detail or contextualizing Burrows gives you. It is that extra specificity of relationships coupled with the broader societal situating of events that makes this a truly enjoyable book.

Even those who know a good bit about these musicians will learn a lot. I am no expert, maybe a dozen books about Bowie and a couple about Bolan/T Rex, but I didn't expect a lot of new information, mostly I was looking forward to new perspective on things I might already know. I gained those new perspectives and also a lot of very interesting details which were new to me. You gotta love when a book gives you what you want, plus a whole lot more.

Certainly a must read for fans of Bowie, Bolan, and the music of the late 60s and 70s, but also a great read for those with an interest in social and cultural history more generally. And for old folk like me, a great trip down memory lane.

NetGalley, Jack Messer

A fascinating and informative biography of Marc Bolan and David Bowie but also the story of their career, of what was happening in the music world and in the society.
The author loves these musicians and did and excellent job in writing this informative book.
Recommended.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A detailed look at David Bowie and (my #1 love) Marc Bolan and youth culture in London, from their early years, before fame and to their ascent, leading to their reunion on the television show "Marc'.... where they played a blowout performance shortly before Marc's untimely death.

Burrows does a fabulous job inserting British history and the political goings-on during Bowie & Bolan's lives. This is not just a rock & roll history, this is a pop culture and British history study.

So many Bowie fans will pick this up, but THIS BOLAN fan will sleep even better know that Marc's story is being told to more and more people.

GET IT ON. BANG A GONG.

NetGalley, Stella Gillham

A very interesting book on both music, London and its numerous problems, and of these two men, friends, rivals, and friends again, as Bowie's star kept rising, and Bolan's wasn't falling but, was never near Bowie. Writing a book about both men must have been difficult, as both were known to dance around the truth, the myth being for more interesting, and satisfying to the ego. When these occasions occur, Burrows will list all the stories, and let the reader decide, unless something was so obviously true, or the lie really that bad. The plotting is very good, sharing both men's lives together and never confusing or muddling the narrative. Plus the music really comes through, and you can tell the writer, who was named for Marc Bolan, really cares about getting his subjects correct and telling their story.

A wonderful book for fans of both men, which is novel as London itself is made a character, and readers can see what that town's effect had on both men. Recommended for music fans, and for fans of well written interesting biographies.

NetGalley, Dan O'Leary

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This fascinating book explores the parallel lives of David Bowie and Marc Bolan, both born in 1947. It's a combination of biography and social history. I've read most of the Bowie biographies, being one of his most ardent fans, but there's still plenty of "new" info here from writer Burrows.

It starts with a blow-by-blow account of when Bowie graced his friend's fairly lowly TV show in 1977 and performed Heroes for the first time ever, which, according to the book, transfixed everyone in the studio. The day of rehearsals ended badly with Bolan drunk and the unions pulling the plug on the recording, meaning Eddie and the Hot Rods had to come back another day. Bowie's security had also been very heavy handed, evicting people from the studio.

A few days later Bolan met his death in a road accident, aged just 29. Bowie attended the funeral and wept, exhibiting a rare show of emotion, according to a friend who knew him.

I had no idea of the hideously complex family life of Bowie. When his father, known as John, married his second wife, they all lived in the same house as his first wife, a performer, plus a child of John's, born to another woman. Bowie's beloved stepbrother Terry, 10 years his senior, eventually joined them. It was not a happy family, and friends of Bowie said his emotional detachment and aloofness was a result of his fractured childhood.

What makes the book stand out is not just the biographical detail around two rock icons, but the social history of the time. It was not long after the war and Britain was changing fast, encouraging thousands of immigrants to start new lives in the UK, a move which was not always popular at the time. It was also a very creative time with plenty of other stars born in 1947, among them Elton John, Iggy Pop, Brian May, Jeff Lynne and Meat Loaf.

NetGalley, Gail Hanlon

David Bowie, Marc Bolan and the 60s Teenage Dream

Rock and Roll fanatics, mods. beat group wannabes, underground hippies, glam rock icons: David Bowie and Marc Bolan spent the first half of their careers following remarkably similar paths. From the day they met in the 1960s as Davie Jones and Mark Fled, rock and roll wannabes painting their managers office in London's Denmark Street, they would remain friends and rivals, each watching closely and learning from each other.

Although I was not a fan of David Bowie and Marc Bolan, I'm always intrigued by how people made it big. London in the 1960s, we find out what was happening around both men in their early years. This is a very detailed read. that has some entertaining footnotes. This is an interesting read.

NetGalley, Louise Wilson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“The London Boys” is a penetratingly thorough history of the deep but often turbulent friendship/rivalry between the nascent rock stars David Bowie and Marc Bolan, from their early years to their eventual first flush of fame. The introduction sets the scene with a depiction of the historic yet chaotic reconciliation of Bowie and Bolan on the latter’s TV show “Marc”, mere days before his death. The book evokes the shattered post-WWII London landscape that both Bolan and Bowie grew up in through vivid descriptions, and explores how the city and its rapid cultural development in the ‘60s shaped their future careers.
On the whole, “The London Boys” is a very detailed and workmanlike biography of both legends, but also a deep and intoxicating (it may even be eye-opening to a millennial reader) social history of Britain and its cultural heritage and development, hugely influenced by American music. There are also some very entertaining footnotes in which many myths are busted. Special mention must be given to chapter nineteen which has a unique structure that got made this old Bowie fan giddily excited, but you’ll have to read it yourself to find out why.
A dense, deep book but immensely scholarly and readable, with an uplifting ending (really, “the beginning”) “The London Boys” is an original, fabulous and moving, even slightly irreverent, addition to the written history of both artists, both of whom burst from the page so vividly that we get to know them better than ever.

NetGalley, Wyn Lewis

Bowie lovers will love this, Bolan lovers will love this, and music history freaks will love this.

NetGalley, Wendi Manning

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading this book it had a interesting topic for a nonfiction book. I enjoyed getting to read more about other British singers besides the Beatles. I enjoyed the way the author wrote and was glad it was a well done read. I look forward to reading more from them.

NetGalley, Kathryn McLeer

This is a detailed analysis of a time and place just as much as it is a biography of two rock stars. The author paints a picture of post war London and the emergence of teen culture with intelligence and careful analysis. Not just for fans, this is a social history likely to be of wider interest to many readers.

NetGalley, Louise Gray
 Marc Burrows

About Marc Burrows

Marc Burrows is a music critic, author and occasional comedian. His biography The Magic of Terry Pratchett won the 2021 Locus Award for Best Non-Fiction, and he writes regularly for The Guardian, Observer, Quietus and Hey U Guys about music, film and pop culture. He plays bass in the cult Victorian punk band The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, and lives in North London with his wife, the poet and author Nicoletta Wylde and a small black cat called Princess. He also has two tropical fish, who he suspects might be psychopaths.

Born on this day - David Bowie

8th January 1947

One of the most popular musicians for over five decades, Bowie sold over 140 million records worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In his career he released eleven number-one albums.


Born on this day - Marc Bolan

30th September 1947

Marc Bolan was an English guitarist, singer and songwriter. He was a pioneer of the glam rock movement in the early 1970s with his band T. Rex.


RCA releases David Bowie's fifth studio album "The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars"

16th June 1972

It is considered his artistic breakthrough.


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