Anyone who read Geoff Docherty’s first book, A Promoter’s Tale, before reading his latest work, would believe the man was one of life’s natural born winners, an alchemist for whom everything he touched turned to gold.
Wasn’t Docherty, a former Royal Navy operative, who served on HMS Ark Royal, the hugely successful music promoter who managed to attract band such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Faces and David Bowie to Sunderland?
Didn’t his CV read like a Who’s Who of British rock music from the 70s?
So it was no great leap of faith to assume that the sequel would be crammed full of even more personal triumphs as Docherty swapped life as a promoter to try his luck in management. It isn’t.
Indeed for those who pick up Three Minutes of Magic, unaware of his previous publication, they could be forgiven for concluding that the Wearsider wasn’t so much a winner as someone dogged by misfortune and bad luck.
This is a book of “if onlys,” a tale of “so near, yet so far moments.”
And its title refers to the importance, even necessity, of having a three minute hit single to ensure fame and fortune.
Docherty launched his management career with the band This Years Girl and also managed Back Street Crawler, the band Paul Kossoff formed after the demise of Free.
Later on, Well Well Well and Deadpan Joy were under his guidance and their experiences present a sobering lesson to bands in the provinces who may think London’s streets are paved in musical gold.But it is his work with Beckett, another band hailing from the North East which forms the meat of this fascinating book.
Beckett were on the cusp of making it big, performing at major festivals, earning the support of John Peel, a pal of the author’s, supporting Slade on a UK tour and winning a record deal.
Heartbreakingly, however, on the eve of their first-ever appearance on Top Of The Pops, Docherty received the phone call which killed Beckett’s dream – they were being pulled off the show because another band had sold bucketloads of records that week which necessitated a live slot.
This is no “feel-good’ book and there’s no happy ending either. But it’s a thoroughly enjoyable, revealing and informative read about the life of upcoming bands. I highly recommend it.