Electric Shock is the latest in a series of critically acclaimed books by Peter Doggett that chronicle the history of popular music and its place in society. It breaks new ground not only for its author, but also in the entire field of music writing, presenting the first comprehensive account of pop's tumultuous progress from the birth of recorded sound to the present day.
The product of a lengthy immersion in 125 years of music, social history and culture, Electric Shock is Peter's third book for the prestigious non-fiction publisher, The Bodley Head.
Peter has been writing professionally since 1980. After more than two decades as a magazine journalist and editor, interviewing hundreds of musicians, authors and other public figures, he has worked for the past ten years as a full-time author.
In 2000, Penguin Books published his pioneering history of the collision between rock and country music, Are You Ready for the Country, which was later commemorated by a double-CD set issued by Warner Music.
Peter spent much of the subsequent decade working on a project that had obsessed him since his teenage years: a chronicle of the tangled relationship between rock music and revolutionary politics in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There's A Riot Going On was published by Canongate in 2007, and was chosen as the Best Book of the Year by the readers of Mojo magazine.
His next book had an even longer gestation period. As a Beatles fan since 1970, Peter had followed the tortured aftermath of the group's break-up with grim fascination. In his 2009 book, You Never Give Me Your Money, he traced the seeds of the Beatles' split, and then followed the desperate and ultimately vain efforts of the four ex-members to deal with the fall-out, and escape its legacy. You Never Give Me Your Money was published by The Bodley Head in the UK, and HarperStudio in the US a year later, when it was chosen as one of the 10 best books of 2010 by the Los Angeles Times.
In 2011/12,the same publishers issued The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie and the 1970s, a detailed examination of the musician's remarkably creative progress through a turbulent decade. It offered song-by-song critique - musical, lyrical, biographical and cultural - of his entire output from 1963 to 1980, alongside short essays on the themes that influenced his work, from the occult to expressionist art and fashion to fascism.
Electric Shock is his most ambitious project to date. "I have never been satisfied with any of the single-volume histories of popular music," he explains. "Either they take the position that civilisation began with the emergence of rock'n'roll in the mid-1950s, or alternatively they view rock'n'roll as the weapon that destroyed a golden era of pre-war pop. Neither of those versions of history made sense to me - any more than I could imagine chronicling the 20th century, and either beginning or finishing my narrative at the start of World War Two.
"So I set out to trace the history of how popular music had changed since sound recordings became commercial artefacts around 1890; how the technology of recording had changed; and how music's wider role in our lives had changed. To me, this was one vast story, and so it required a suitably epic canvas. That's my only excuse for writing a 700-page book!"
Music has not been the sole focus of Peter's writing since the publication of The Man Who Sold the World. In 2013, he adopted the mischievous pseudonym of Rufus Lodge (actually the name of his former home) to write F**k: An Irreverent History of the F-Word for the HarperCollins imprint, The Friday Project. An audio version of the book was recorded by actor Richard E. Grant, and out-takes of Grant 'corpsing' as he read some of the more obscene and hilarious sections of the book were mysteriously leaked onto YouTube. F**k will be issued in paperback later this year.
Peter also has a continuing relationship with Reel Art Press, who specialise in deluxe photographic collections and other illustrated works. He has contributed to many of their recent books, including the definitive history of African-American film posters, Separate Cinema; anthologies of the work of Art Kane, Mario Casilli and Tom Kelley; and Hollywood Bound, a set of pictures from classic movies in which the stars just happen to be bound by ropes, chains or jungle vines. This autumn saw the publication of two further titles featuring Peter's writing: The 1960s: Photographed by David Hurn, spotlighting the work of one of Britain's most creative photographers; and Barbara Pyle's Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 1975.
Besides his writing career, Peter has acted for more than thirty years as a consultant for major London and New York auction houses dealing with rock and pop memorabilia. His specialist areas include recordings and manuscripts, and he has been involved in the authentication and sale of previously undocumented items related to artists such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. He has also provided confidential insurance valuations and expert advice for major archives of recordings and related documents.
In addition to writing about records, he has also helped to create them. He has been heavily involved in the repackaging of the Kinks' catalogue since the late 1990s, contributing extensive liner-notes to several box sets and numerous other reissues. He was also part of the team behind definitive box set retrospectives by the Hollies and Tom Jones, and has provided annotation for more than fifty other reissues and compilations, by artists from the 1940s to the 1990s.
Away from his desk, Peter stood as an official Green Party candidate at the 2010 UK General Election, polling a mighty 791 votes in one of the safest Conservative seats in the country. He has also trained as a humanistic counsellor, and a life coach, but currently has only one regular client: himself. He lives in London with the artist and illustrator (and professional counsellor), Rachel Baylis.