‘What’s the point writing about boring people?’


Charming man: Rogan attracted the ire of Morrissey following his biography on The Smiths, who hoped the author ended his days in a motorway pile-up. PHOTO: DOUGLAS O’CONNOR

Think of London in the Swinging Sixties and it’s hard not to be seduced by the idea of a glamorous, permissive society where beautiful people lived it large and some of the greatest popular music ever recorded was providing the soundtrack.

But while such a London did exist, it felt a long way from the world that 12-year-old Johnny Rogan knew. He may have lived close to some of the poshest addresses in the city, but his family home was a run-down tenement with no electricity.

That wasn’t good for a music-loving 12-year-old and it was only when he returned to visit family in Co Waterford that he was able to listen to music to his heart’s content. Electricity was in plentiful supply in supposedly backward Ireland in 1965.

That year was a formative one for one who would go on to be acclaimed as one of the greatest rock biographers of his generation. He heard the music of The Byrds for the first time – and it changed his life. “I think 1965 was maybe the greatest year in music that there’s been,” he says. “Virtually every week, one great song after the next was released. They’re songs from the Beatles and Stones and Kinks that are revered today, and it was the year that ‘Eight Miles High’ was released, too.”

Rogan is considered one of the…

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