Read this: I, Sideman by Jackie McAuley

Co Derry man Jackie McAuley has spent his whole life making music as both a sideman and band leader

IT TOOK me a while to get around to ex-Them organist Jackie McAuley's new rock memoir I, Sideman (sorry again, Jackie) but once I did pick up the Co Derry muso's compelling account of being a multi-instrumental hired gun during the musical explosion of the 1960s and 70s, it was hard to put it down again.

Having joined Them (who also included Jackie's elder brother, Pat/'John', their drummer) at the tender age of 17, the Farfisa-wrangler had his heart broken early on in his long and fascinating musical career by the shady business shenanigans which condemned the Van Morrison-fronted Belfast hit-makers to a life of arduous, poorly planned-out gigging while manager Phil Solomon took all their money.

However, thankfully Jackie soon got past it. After a brief stint in pseudo-Them outfit Belfast Gypsies (who recorded their classic LP with feted pop producer Kim Fowley), he went on to become an in-demand 'sideman' when London's Denmark Street AKA 'Tin Pan Alley' was still a mecca for talented young musos looking for gigs and session work.

Being at the centre of the musical universe led Jackie into all sorts of projects, (mis)adventures and memorable encounters: the book features interesting 'cameos' from the likes of Paul McCartney, Irish Wings guitar-slinger Henry McCullough, Gene Vincent, Jimi Hendrix, Jack Bruce, Lemmy, Marc Bolan, John Peel, Joe Cocker, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band leader Viv Stanshall and skiffle king Lonnie Donegan to name but a few.

Highly recommended reading for anyone interested in this most fertile period of musical history and one Irish lifer's fascinating role in it all.

:: Signed copies available now via

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