Roger Grierson has a perspective on the Australian music industry that can rightfully be described as unique.
Surely there can’t be many other people who start out as part of independent alternative band in the late 70s to eventually become the Chairman of Festival Records and then Senior Vice President of Newscorp Music, before retiring and reforming his band, The Thought Criminals.
Lobrow is his self-published memoir, a rock and rollercoaster ride through, as he puts it, “A Life of Rock, Paper and Fixes”. In between being a punk and an executive, Grierson became a label manager, producer, artist manager, tour promoter and music publisher.
He worked with names that will be familiar from the Sydney indie scene to the international charts, and he has opinions about all of them. This book is dripping with anecdotes, gossip, compliments and insults.
It also has too many typos, printing errors and grammar bugs but, frankly, who cares? On the whole, it’s well structured and presented (self-published books often suffer in these areas) and features pages of full colour photos of his actual and musical families.
To be honest, I couldn’t put Lobrow down, which required some commitment as it’s 373 pages long. It was time well spent, though, as the book is extremely entertaining, often laugh-out-loud funny, and occasionally jaw-dropping, not least the closing section “Stranger Than Fiction”.
I suppose when you come as close to the top as Grierson did, having come from such a low base, he’s earned the right to drop buckets on whoever he chooses. I certainly got the feeling he wasn’t holding much back. On the few occasions when he doesn’t name names, I found it very easy to work out who he was talking about.
Given the bands Grierson was involved with, I’d expected there to be more references to French’s and the Hopetoun but I suppose you can’t have everything. There’s certainly plenty of other local references that will make you smile if you were into the Sydney band scene of the 80s.
To be fair, there are also quite a few deep and meaningful insights into the music business, how it works (and doesn’t) and who played significant roles in it in the last quarter of the 20th century. And full respect to Grierson for getting back into The Thought Criminals – there can’t be many former music execs who have the balls to do that.
I don’t think Lobrow is available from general bookshops. I got my copy from the author direct – get the details at https://www.lobrowthebook.com/.