Roy Carr

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Since the '70s, Roy Carr has been one of Britain's most well-read music journalists. He has been prolific both as a writer and editor for periodicals, particularly New Musical Express, and as an author…
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Since the '70s, Roy Carr has been one of Britain's most well-read music journalists. He has been prolific both as a writer and editor for periodicals, particularly New Musical Express, and as an author of music books, which tend to be overviews of specific artists' recorded work or elements of jazz history. He's one of the relatively few writers to have penned well-received volumes on both rock and jazz. Carr actually began his career in the music business as a recording artist. He was leader of the Executives, which issued nine singles between 1964 and 1969 on Columbia and CBS in the U.K. The little material that has surfaced on reissue compilations suggests they were a forgettable band. He did play right before the Rolling Stones on the July 24, 1964, show in Blackpool that turned into a riot after Keith Richards got into a tangle with members of the rowdy audience. In the '70s, Carr became one of Britain's best-known rock writers with his work for New Musical Express.

As an author, he was involved, either as sole writer or co-writer, for most of the titles in the Illustrated Record series (mostly, though not wholly, published by Harmony). These volumes gave detailed critical commentary -- not just discographical information -- on every single and album released by a certain artist, with a lot of wit as well as description. As such, they were extremely valuable, especially in the '70s and early '80s, when such serious critical studies were fairly rare. These also had excellent pictures and capsule sidebars on the major events of the musicians' careers that did not directly relate to their recorded product. Carr worked on every title in the series -- which included installments on the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and Elvis Presley -- except the one on Bob Dylan. He also co-authored Fleetwood Mac: Rumours n' Fax, which, although not part of the Illustrated Record series, used a very similar format.

Unfortunately, the Illustrated Record series stopped after the early '80s, but Carr has continued to author interesting music books. The Hip: Hipsters, Jazz & the Beat Generation (for which he was co-author) was a photo-filled look at '50s-era jazz, focusing as much on the lifestyle and fashion associated with the genre as the music. He wrote a large part of A Century of Jazz, another photo-heavy volume with essays on most important jazz styles and subgenres throughout the 20th century. He was sole author of Beatles at the Movies, which dispensed history and criticism for all five of the Beatles' major motion picture projects, in addition to detailing films that were discussed or considered as appropriate for the group, but abandoned for one reason or another. Carr is executive editor of three British music periodicals: Melody Maker, New Musical Express, and Vox (all of which are part of IPC Magazines' music line). He has also been a broadcaster and record producer, and compiled and written liner notes for record companies such as Blue Note, Chess, Pacific Jazz, Riverside, and Savoy.