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New Book Explores London and Classic Rock

Courtesy: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. “London, Reign Over Me,” a new book on London and classic rock.

Nov 19, 2019

In “London Reign Over Me,” an upcoming book, Stephen Tow, a Delaware Valley University faculty member, explores London’s role in creating classic rock. Tow’s book includes interviews with people who lived and breathed London’s music scene in the 1960s.

The book takes readers to the clubs, record shops, and radio stations of 1960s London and follows some of the young hopefuls who would become household names. For the project, Tow interviewed more than 90 musicians and “movers-and-shakers of the time” to tell the story of how classic rock was created. Some of the voices in the book include Peter Frampton, Paul Rodgers, Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Dave Davies (The Kinks), Steve Howe(Yes), and Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits). Drummer Bill Bruford, of Yes and King Crimson, wrote the foreword. The book will come out in February 2020 and will be available through Rowman & Littlefield Publishing (Rowman.com) and Amazon. 

Tow wanted to write the book because he’s a music fan and loves ’60s music, which he feels like he missed out on being able to experience. 

“For me, I always felt like I missed out,” said Tow. “High school is when I started to get into music as a fan. That was the late ’70s. By then, mainstream music had become stale. If the late ’60s and early ’70s were like a hot, fresh pizza delivered to your door, the late ’70s were akin to the leftover slices you reheated the next day.”

He said to him the music of the ’60s “just sounded so much more vital, more alive, and more human” than what was popular when he was in high school and college. 

The book gives the reader the perspectives of baby boomer British kids and why they were so attracted to American blues. It then goes into how London’s music developed over the 1960s by breaking rules about what music could or should sound like. 

“I think classic rock taught us it’s OK to break the rules,” said Tow. “By breaking rules, you can create something really special and timeless.”

He said the book provides the perspective of what it was like to live in a time that would have a huge impact on music and culture. 

“You get the benefit of being in that moment in history,” said Tow. “You get to experience being in those clubs hearing The Rolling Stones when no one knew who they were. People at the time didn’t know it was a big moment that they were living in. You get to live the moment and appreciate it from decades later.”

He said he hopes the book helps people appreciate how and why classic rock happened and how it is still influencing the music they are listening to today. 

Tow has been teaching at DelVal for 20 years. Through the Department of Liberal Arts, he currently teaches history courses and other electives. He uses his love of music and his background as a music writer to enrich the classroom experience for his students. 

This spring, in one of his courses, “Critical Issues In American History,” students at the University will learn about different decades of music. In the course, students will have the opportunity to hear from a star-studded lineup of guest speakers. So far, Chad Channing (Nirvana), Judy Dyble (Fairport Convention), and Bruce Pavitt (Co-founder of Sub Pop Records, the label that discovered Nirvana and Soundgarden) have been scheduled.

To learn more about the book, please visit Rowman.com