Hotpants and Harrison: Why 1971 was rock’s golden year

1971: Rock's Golden Year by David Hepworth
1971: Rock's Golden Year by David Hepworth
  • 1971 – Never a Dull Moment: Rock’s Golden Year by David Hepworth
  • Bantam, £20
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It’s all very well David Hepworth calling Carole King’s Tapestry a seminal album in a seminal year but to me it will forever be associated with the Meadow Milk Bar in Arbroath. This was the pit stop for all family holidays and Tapestry was the only music we ever had for the car journeys. Those trips killed that album for me and I’d never listened to it again until reading this book, based round Hepworth’s assertion that 1971 was rock’s annus mirabilis.

It was the year of Led Zeppelin IV, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Don McLean’s American Pie, the beginning’s of glam rock and stadium rock, George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh, the music getting serious.

It’s also a period of hotpants of which Hepworth, I think, is a connoisseur. They get their first mention on page 11. They turn up again on page 51, and on pages 102, 116, 123 and 124. This is a world where flight attendants wore them and on the jet chartered by Mick Jagger, they were the attire of choice of the wives and girlfriends of famous friends attending the Rolling Stone’s St Tropez wedding to Bianca Perez-Mora Macias.

The year also produced Sticky Fingers, an important album some might say, but I have a blind-spot regarding the Stones and not even the dust-jacket image of Keith Richards strumming his guitar for Anita Pallenberg, who doesn’t appear to be wearing any pants, hot or otherwise, is going to remove it. But I’m grateful to Hepworth for the hilarious set-piece covering these nuptials, which ends with Jagger’s poor father stepping over the wasted guests and sighing: “I hope my other son doesn’t become a superstar.”

With a droll eye, Hepworth sketches stylus-sharp vignettes of the main players. He’s also great on the social history, reminding us that this was a year of no mobile phones but 70,000 red boxes, no gates on Downing Street, only one black footballer and Jimmy Savile urging us to clunk-click every trip. Out of this world came Tapestry. I’ve just dug it out – fantastic record.