‘Love me or hate me. It’s a great read’ – Billy Bragg
The fifth revision of Andrew Collins’s biography of Billy Bragg.
This 20th anniversary edition has been updated to include the rise of Corbyn, the unfolding of Brexit, Billy’s reclamation of skiffle and his overtures into Americana.
As the founder of Red Wedge, he created the first politicised union of musicians. Perhaps best-known for his passionately political lyrics, Bragg is also admired for his honest and sometimes humorous love songs. Billy is a rebel in every sense; he has repeatedly refused to follow the conventions of the music industry, selling his records at affordable prices whilst supporting unfashionable causes and tiptoeing into the charts with heartfelt songs about urban decay, callous governments and unaccountable corporations.
Still Suitable For Miners is the definitive, authorised story behind a true one-off who has proven again and again that pop music is an art form which still has something to say about political causes, and does so, thank goodness, with a sense of humour. Starting out in punk bands (his unfortunate moniker was Billy Bonkers), Billy rose from his working class origins to become one of the UKs foremost protest singers in the 1980s. With songs like Between The Wars and A New England, Billy became a central figure both in pop music and in the politicised music atmosphere of that decade. The failure of Neil Kinnock to take power led to the demise of Red Wedge but Billy’s career has continued to grow. In 1998 Billy was chosen, above many big names such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, to write and record music for previously unheard lyrics left by the legendary American protest singer Woodie Guthrie, who died in 1967. This recognition of Billy as the “spiritual heir” to Guthrie has given him the status he has long deserved as one of the foremost protest singers of our time. Billy Bragg’s life encapsulates so much about his generation: born in the 50s with politics shaped by Thatcherism, passions forged by punk and hope provided by the end of the cold war. Yet his story is also unique; Billy is a British institution that will never go out of fashion; a peerless entertainer and fearless campaigner. Still Suitable for Miners is the fascinating story of Billy Bragg’s life as a much-loved maverick and idiosyncratic icon of leftfield pop.
The Author Andrew Collins is one of the best known and respected music journalists in the UK. He began his career at weekly music journal NME, where he rose to features editor, before leaving to edit the prestigious monthly music title Q for two years. He also edited film monthly Empire. He won a Sony Radio Award for his Radio One music/comedy programme Collins’ Hit Parade and has won both a Royal Television Society Award and the Rose d’Or for Not Going Out, the BBC1 sitcom he co-wrote with Lee Mack. Andrew has been a regular DJ on BBC 6 Music since its launch in 2002, writes about films for Radio Times and has also published three volumes of memoirs. He spent six months with Billy Bragg writing and researching this fully authorised, official biography, first published in 1998, and has updated it at regular intervals ever since, describing it now as “less a book, more a way of life.