Book Review – Brian Hough | Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay

The Dodgy Business of Popular Music by Simon Napier-Bell

If you have any interest in music, be it any particular genre, this book is for you.

If you have ever bought an LP, EP CD or even a 78, you’ll be fascinated by the evils that led to you deciding on that purchase.

The cover notes proclaim: In 1930 the music sociologist Dr Isaac Goldberg wrote that ‘everything we sing or whistle is the end of the result of organized pluggery’.

Nearly a century later, nothing has changed.

You will read:

  • About the shenanigans that were an integral part of Tin Pan Alley.
  • The dubious dealings before and during WWII involving  the song Lilli Marlene.
  • How delinquency and teenage marketing finally dovetailed when Bill Haley had a hit with Joe Turner’s Shake Rattle and Roll.
  • Why a journalist from the Los Angeles Times called a jazz band ‘a vile imitation of music’
  • Why W C Handy wrote St Louis Blues at the height of the tango craze.

There are intriguing stories about:

  • Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Sonny and Cher, Jimmy Page and Patti Page, the ongoing battle for the top spot that raged between Jerry lee Lewis and Little Richard, and the downfall of Lewis’s cousin the reverend Jimmy Swaggart.
  • The constant warring that raged between EMI, Columbia Warner Chappell, Universal and BMG.
  • The details of sale of CBS to Sony and Walter Yetnikoff’s $23 million pay-off.
  • About Elvis Presley appearing on the Grand Ole Opry in 1954, the traditionalists didn’t approve one bit. He was told to go back to truck-driving in Memphis.

You will also learn:

  • How a formula for writing hit songs devised in the 1900s created over 50 000 of the best known songs ever.
  • Why Jewish immigrants and black jazz musicians danced cheek-to-cheek to create the template for all popular music that followed.
  • How rap, born from a DJ’s pleasant asides to his audience, became the music of hate and rape – and the biggest selling popular music in the world.
  • How industry executives didn’t realize until the 1950s that popular music could be sold to young people, and how they lost their minds to it.
  • How Hollywood bought the music industry in the 1930s-then suffocated it. Why American pre-war industry in-fighting closed down traditional radio and created an opening for country music, race records, and rock ‘n roll.
  • How, as drug-taking came of age, so did electronic dance music
  • Rap began when Kool Herc, a West Indian DJ resident in New York, started toasting his friends in the audience over the breakdown section of records he was playing.

As you will read below, the book will soon be available as an eBook.

Published by Random house And a paperback and eBook coming next month
Joburg contact below for Random House

Rosebank Office Park, Block D, 181 Jan Smuts Ave, Parktown North, 2193

PO Box 9 Parklands, 2121

Tel: +27 11 327 3550


9781783520312 (1783520310)
Napier-Bell,Sim Book Random House TBS/GBS 26-Jun-2014 17.99
9781783521043 (178352104X)
Napier-Bell,Sim Book Random House TBS/GBS 21-May-2015 8.99
Not yet published
Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay (Epub)
9781783521517 (1783521511)
Napier-Bell,Sim Other merchandise Random House TBS/GBS 21-May-2015 7.82
Not yet published

It’s also on Amazon