Saturday, 16 December 2017

Rocker on literary and musical odyssey

YOU may not automatically think of Alan Clayson as a polymath just by looking at his photo, writes Lesley Potter.

But the Caversham-based rock star is busy researching the official biography of one of the biggest rock heroes to come out of the United States — his 31st book — as well as limbering up for a rare reunion concert in Reading next month with his band, Clayson and the Argonauts.

“I have been appointed to write Frank Zappa’s official biography,” he says. “This came about because I did a book about a composer called Edgard Varèse, who no one has ever heard of.

“He was contemporaneous with Stravinsky and it was the poorest selling book I have ever written. I wrote it off as a literary faux pas. Then 18 months ago I got a call from California by someone claiming to be Gail Zappa, the widow of Frank Zappa. When you get a call like that you think it’s someone messing about, but she had bought the book because it turns out Varèse was Zappa’s favourite composer.”

Gail came to London, had lunch with Clayson in a nouvelle cuisine restaurant in Covent Garden and brokered a deal. The pair are now looking for an agent and publisher for the official biography. Meanwhile, Clayson — who describes his music as “baroque ‘n’ roll” — is planning a come-back gig at the Rising Sun Arts Centre in Reading on May 2.

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