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The unsung hero of rock and roll: Laurence Myers, the man who discovered Bowie

The unsung hero of rock and roll: Laurence Myers, the man who discovered Bowie

By Gabrielle Johnson |

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‘A music-business journalist once asked me: “What was it like to be at the heart of the British music industry in the fantastic sixties and seventies?” I truthfully answered, “Who knew?”’

Laurence Myers’ new memoir Hunky Dory (Who Knew?) tells the stories which no one knew would deserve telling – from Mick Jagger’s inability to imagine he would be singing rock and roll in his seventies to David Bowie’s confidence that dressing androgynously would work in his favour. Jagger was wrong, and Bowie was right; Myers took a chance on both of them.

Now working as a producer, Myers succumbed to peer pressure and decided to tell the stories the music lovers of the world deserve to hear, and Hunky Dory (Who Knew?) was born.

Laurence Myers grew up in East Ham, where his parents ran a hairdressing salon, one of two career options give to him by his parents. The other: accounting. Myers began training aged sixteen, qualified in 1960 and established Goodman Myers and Co. shortly afterwards. It was just two years later that Myers’ diverse career in the music industry began, when Mickie Most decided he needed an accountant.

‘Nobody really knows anything, so dare to fail’ – living according to his motto, Myers threw himself into the music industry and, only five years after that fortunate encounter with Mickie Most, set up the Gem group of companies, where he grew his network of talented artists and creatives of the day, including The Rolling Stones, The Beatles’ Apple Corps, The Kinks, The Animals and the one and only David Bowie, who he signed in the company’s first year of life.

Myers describes writing Hunky Dory (Who Knew?) as ‘one of the greatest pleasures of my non-personal life’, the process of which helped him reconnect with friends he hadn’t spoken to for over forty years. Hunky Dory (Who Knew?) charts the course of Myers’ career and the people he met along the way. Featuring unheard stories and insights into a glamorous (and at times scandalous) industry, it is the perfect read for music lovers.

But Myers’ passion for the arts didn’t begin and end with music. In 1974 he set up GTO Films, working with names such as Ray Winstone and Kurt Russell to produce and distribute films from what quickly became a leading independent film distributor. By combining his two passions, he led in the creation of films such as Birth of The Beatles and Elvis. More recently, we can credit Myers with the huge success of Judy, the 2019 biographic drama of Judy Garland starring Renée Zellweger.

Responsible for bringing so many of the nation’s biggest household names into the limelight, Laurence Myers has led a fascinating career, one which will surely continue to inspire music-makers and lovers through Hunky Dory (Who Knew?): The best I can remember from twenty years at the heart of ’60s and ’70s rock and pop. 

You can buy your copy of Hunky Dory (Who Knew?) on Amazon now

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