Just A Shot Away:69 Revisited is veteran author-journalist Kris Needs' highly-personal account of 1969 as he experienced it happening; from starting the year as a wide-eyed 14-year-old Rolling Stones/Hendrix nut and turning 15 the day Brian Jones died to becoming part of the UK's longest-running club and befriending its hottest new band.
There have been endless books that take a well-researched look at that tumultuous year but few that actually live it in real time. Rather than recycle hoary cliches about Manson and Altamont snuffing the 60s after Woodstock's brief optimism, or any ludicrous rivalry between the Beatles and Stones, Kris remembers the gigs, bands and records that bombarded his own young radar and helped shape his future life as a music writer, DJ and, briefly fan club secretary.
With John Peel a lifeline, 1969 was pivotal for Kris, including the births of the legendary Friars Aylesbury rock club, for which he designed the membership card and flyers, Pete Frame's Zigzag magazine, which he later wrote for before becoming editor, and Mott The Hoople, who he befriended after they played his school dance and ended up running their fan club. As a member of the Jimi Hendrix fan club, he witnessed the guitarist in concert, plunging himself in black music and becoming fascinated with the Black Power movement. As a lifelong Stones fan, he saw them early and ended up hanging out with Keith Richards in later years. There was never time to care about the death of a decade in which he was coming alive, let alone any loss of innocence when he couldn't lose his fast enough.
With Foreword by his mentor Pete Frame, Kris's 45 year career as a music writer impacts on the narrative time machine fashion, including sessions with Keith Richards, Captain Beefheart, George Clinton and Marianne Faithfull, epic conversations with Ian Hunter, the Doors, the Magic Band, the Fugs, Traffic, Silver Apples, Last Poets, "voice of Woodstock" Chip Monck and many more. Obviously, the book gains perspectives and knowledge from 50 years reading, writing, listening, investigating and living a life the teenage Needs (or anyone else, for that matter!) could never have imagined, some of those leading characters becoming lifelong friends.
The book also carries a sad back story as, while Kris was writing it, his beloved partner Helen, who he fell in love with at a
Mott The Hoople reunion gig in 2013, succumbed to cancer, his grief inevitably tangible and casting a tragic shadow over the story. Helen's death instilled a greater appreciation of life when it was just getting under way, along with the romantic notion that none of his many experiences can ever compare to finding his true soul mate. Helen's death resulted in Kris moving back to the family home with his 93-year-old mum; now writing in the same bedroom where he experienced 1969 as it unfolded, and still getting told to turn down his Rolling Stones records!
Once Kris finished writing the book, it was twice as long as the average music tome so will now come in two volumes, each covering half that year.
Publisher: New Haven Publishing Ltd
Number of pages: 280
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm