|Born||1949 (age 71–72)|
Dagenham, Essex, England
|Occupation||Writer, encyclopedist, designer/typographer, musician, publisher, entrepreneur|
Colin Larkin (born 1949) is a British writer and entrepreneur. He founded, and was the editor in chief of, the Encyclopedia of Popular Music ,described by The Times as "the standard against which all others must be judged".
Along with the ten-volume encyclopedia, Larkin also wrote the book All Time Top 1000 Albums ,and edited the Guinness Who's Who Of Jazz , the Guinness Who's Who Of Blues , and the Virgin Encyclopedia Of Heavy Rock . The compiler of the most extensive database of popular music in Europe and the US, a writer and book designer by trade, Larkin has over 650,000 copies in print to date. As an authority on popular music, Larkin has often been interviewed on radio, and had a regular slot on BBC GLR for two years in the 1990s.
Larkin was born in Dagenham, Essex, an area that was largely populated by workers in the car industry. Although the post-war years proved lucrative for the Ford motor company,Larkin was raised in relative poverty in the largest area of council housing in the United Kingdom, in the suburbs that surrounded the Ford plant. The Becontree estate in Dagenham began as a conglomeration of 27,000 "homes for heroes", and had no recognisable town centre.
Larkin spent much of his early childhood attending the travelling fair where his father, who worked by day as a plumber for the council, moonlighted on the waltzers to make ends meet. It was in the fairground, against a background of Little Richard on the wind-up 78 rpm turntables, that Larkin acquired his passion for the world of popular music,and a taste for exotic pattern and vivid colour, which would re-surface in later years in books on Islamic art and architecture, and oriental rugs.
In the 1960s Larkin attended the South East Essex County Technical High School following which, under his own initiative he obtained an apprenticeship as a commercial artist, enabling him to take a sandwich course at the London College of Printing (now the London College of Communication). There he studied typography and book design,and was influenced by the typeface designer Eric Gill, who is associated with the arts and crafts movement.
Larkin began his working life in commercial art, advertising studios and design groups and for the book publisher Pearson Longmans. In 1967 he began writing for music journals and magazines. At Longmans he became senior book designer, but he soon tired of working for the publishing house and by 1976 had co-founded his own book publishing company, Scorpion Publishing.
From the outset Larkin was intent upon reaching areas of the book reading public that other publishers felt it unnecessary or unprofitable to reach. Scorpion Publishing published art books on Oriental carpets and Islamic Art. They also designed and published John Gorman's trilogy of Labour history, Banner Bright,To Build Jerusalem and Images of Labour. Notable music books at this time included Johnny Rogan's Timeless Flight: The Definitive Story of The Byrds' ' and Bob Dylan's Unreleased Recordings.
In the 1980s Larkin, who read music magazines avidly and was acquiring a considerable personal library of singles and albums, began to consider the idea of "an encyclopedia of popular music". His passion for an encyclopedia that would do for Bob Dylan and the Beatles what the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians had done for more classical subjects, and moreover do it better, finally took over when in 1989 he sold his half of Scorpion Books to fund the project and founded Square One Books.
In 1989 Larkin formed Square One Books to create a multi-volume Encyclopedia of Popular Music , and to publish music related books. He published additional music biographies including those on Graham Bond, R.E.M., Eric Clapton, The Byrds and Frank Zappa,and a further book on Bob Dylan, Oh No, Not Another Bob Dylan Book.
In a pre-internet age, the work required to create an encyclopedia of popular music was considerable. Aided by a team of contributors, a fast-growing library of music magazines, books and the music itself, an eventual 3000 vinyl singles, 3500 vinyl albums, 4500 music biographies and 38,000 CDs,Larkin began compiling the Encyclopedia.
In 1992 the first edition of the Encyclopedia of Popular Music went into print.It was quickly recognised as monumental: Rolling Stone described the work as "musical history in the making", in The Times they called it "a work of almost frightening completeness". Musician Jools Holland called it "without question the most useful reference work on popular music".
In May 2011 Omnibus Press released the Amazon Kindle edition of the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, using the text of the 2007 edition.
Square One developed their own in-house software using 4th Dimension.
Over 50 separate titles followed the creation of the Encyclopedia's database, and in 1997 Larkin sold Square One Books to American data company Muze.Larkin became full-time editor-in-chief and ran the encyclopedia as a cottage industry, with a team of fewer than ten contributors, who in terms of wordcount were "producing an Agatha Christie novel a month".
From September 2008, Larkin ceased all involvement with Muze Inc. or any of its related companies following the closure of the Encyclopedia of Popular Music as a stand-alone product and his subsequent redundancy.On 15 April 2009, it was announced that most of the assets of Muze Inc. were purchased by Macrovision.
In 2008, Larkin launched a new website whose original inspiration had come from the All Time Top 1000 Albums , initially called 1000Greatest.com. This would later change its name to become the multi-media rating site and iPhone app, btoe.com (Best Things On Earth).Larkin closed down this website in August 2018 and re-directed the content to Musopedia.com. He is CEO and editor-in-chief of Musopedia Ltd.
From 2013 to 2017 he was the main contributor of music biographies and album reviews for Quantone Music [Quantone], an in depth music data company. In 2018 he was commissioned by BMG to write the detailed essay and sleeve notes for the Rolling Stones' curated project Confessin' the Blues.
In November 2020, Larkin released his latest tome, Cover Me – The Vintage Art of Pan Books: 1950-1965. His first non-music book, it was a celebration of the classic Pan Books paperbacks, incorporating full-colour reproductions of over 300 of the original cover's artwork.
Traffic is the second studio album by the English rock band Traffic, released in 1968 on Island Records in the United Kingdom as ILPS 9081T (stereo), and United Artists in the United States, as UAS 6676 (stereo). The album peaked at number 9 in the UK albums chart and at number 17 on the Billboard 200. It was the last album recorded by the group before their initial breakup.
Mabel Louise Smith, known professionally as Big Maybelle, was an American R&B singer. Her 1956 hit single "Candy" received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.
Fleetwood Mac, also known as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, is the debut studio album by British blues rock band Fleetwood Mac, released on 24 February 1968. The album is a mixture of blues covers and originals penned by guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer, who also share the vocal duties. It is the only album by the band without any involvement of keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie.
Blue Train is a studio album by John Coltrane, released in January 1958 on Blue Note Records, catalogue BLP 1577. Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, New Jersey, it is the only Blue Note recording by Coltrane as session leader. It has been certified a gold record by the RIAA.
Beryl Audley Bryden was an English jazz singer, who played with Chris Barber and Lonnie Donegan. Ella Fitzgerald once said of Bryden that she was "Britain's queen of the blues".
John Barleycorn Must Die is the fourth studio album by English rock band Traffic, released in 1970 as Island ILPS 9116 in the United Kingdom, United Artists UAS 5504 in the United States, and as Polydor 2334 013 in Canada. It marked the band's comeback after a brief disbandment, and peaked at number 5 on the Billboard 200, making it their highest charting album in the US, and has been certified a gold record by the RIAA. In addition, the single "Empty Pages" spent eight weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 74. The album was marginally less successful in the UK, reaching number 11 on the UK Albums Chart.
The Blues and the Abstract Truth is an album by American composer and jazz saxophonist Oliver Nelson recorded in February 1961 for the Impulse! label. It remains Nelson's most acclaimed album and features a lineup of notable musicians: Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers and Roy Haynes. Baritone saxophonist George Barrow does not take solos but remains a key feature in the subtle voicings of Nelson's arrangements. The album is often noted for its unique ensemble arrangements and is frequently identified as a progenitor of Nelson's move towards arranging later in his career.
Live at the Regal is a 1965 live album by American blues guitarist and singer B.B. King. It was recorded on November 21, 1964 at the Regal Theater in Chicago. The album is widely heralded as one of the greatest blues albums ever recorded and is #141 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2005, Live at the Regal was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in the United States.
Incognito is a British acid jazz band. Their debut album, Jazz Funk, was released in 1981.
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Song Book is a 1956 studio album by the American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, with a studio orchestra conducted and arranged by Buddy Bregman, focusing on the songs written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
Chicken Shack are a British blues band, founded in the mid-1960s by Stan Webb, Andy Silvester, and Alan Morley (drums), who were later joined by Christine Perfect in 1967. Chicken Shack has performed with various line-ups, Stan Webb being the only constant member.
Travels is the Pat Metheny Group's first live album, released in 1983. It won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance.
Gettin' Together! is an album recorded in 1960 by Paul Gonsalves. AllMusic's Scott Yanow awarded the album 4 1/2 stars. He wrote "The music is straight-ahead and shows that Gonsalves was quite capable of playing with younger "modernists"."
The Rooftop Singers were an American progressive folk-singing trio in the early 1960s, best known for the hit "Walk Right In". The group was composed of Erik Darling and Bill Svanoe with former jazz singer Lynne Taylor (vocals).
Genius + Soul = Jazz is a 1961 album by Ray Charles featuring big band arrangements by Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns. Charles is accompanied by two groups drawn from members of The Count Basie Band and from the ranks of top New York session players. It was recorded at Van Gelder Studio in two sessions on December 26 and 27, 1960 and originally released on the Impulse! label as Impulse! A–2.
Charles James McDevitt is a Scottish musician, one of the leading lights of the skiffle genre which was highly influential and popular in the United Kingdom in the mid-to-late 1950s.
The Vipers Skiffle Group – later known simply as The Vipers – were one of the leading British groups during the skiffle period of the mid to late 1950s, and were important in the careers of radio and television presenter Wally Whyton, coffee bar manager Johnny Martyn, wire salesman Jean Van den Bosch, instrument repairer Tony Tolhurst, journalist John Pilgrim, record producer George Martin, and several members of The Shadows.
Ahead Rings Out is the debut album by British blues-rock band Blodwyn Pig, released in 1969. The band had been formed in 1969 by Mick Abrahams, the former guitarist of Jethro Tull, and sales of Ahead Rings Out rivalled those of Jethro Tull’s next album, Stand Up, reaching No. 9 on the British album chart.
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music was created in 1989 by Colin Larkin. It is the 'modern man's' equivalent of the Grove Dictionary of Music, which Larkin describes in less than flattering terms. Described by The Times as "the standard against which all others must be judged".
All Time Top 1000 Albums is a book by Colin Larkin, creator and editor of the Encyclopedia of Popular Music. The book was first published by Guinness Publishing in 1994. The list presented is the result of over 200,000 votes cast by the public in record shops, universities, schools and the French music trade show MIDEM - and ranked in order. Each album's entry is accompanied by an annotation with a 100 word review, details of its creation and notes about the band or artist who recorded it.