Reverb Titles

Garage Rock


Seth Bovey’s Garage Rock: From the Fabulous Wailers to the White Stripes (expected 2017-18) will explore the cross-generational phenomenon of garage rock – from the Fabulous Wailers in the late 1950s to the White Stripes in the 2000s, and beyond.

The book aims to tell the story of how generations of young, aspiring musicians have tried to recreate the sounds and excitement of the early days of rock ‘n’ roll. In the earliest days, many of the Garage bands were content with playing covers of Little Richard and Chuck Berry songs, but others dug further into the roots of rock ‘n’ roll and found that the sounds they wanted came out of postwar rhythm and blues. Thus, like other forms of American popular music, garage rock draws its substance and vigor from African-American music.

But it would be a mistake to see garage musicians as mere revivalists or purists – what they seek, rather, is to capture the primal energies of an earlier form of rock and roll.

The youth culture that would sustain successive waves of garage bands first blossomed in the mid-sixties after the so-called British Invasion, in whose aftermath garage rock went through its greatest period of productivity and popularity (roughly from 1965 through 1967). But, as garage music devolved into other forms of rock, its contemporaneous audience moved on to other musical pastures and the 60s movement faded away.

A new phenomenon then arose in the early 1970s as several influential figures began to look back at ‘60s garage music and develop an after-the-fact audience for it. One of these figures was fanzine publisher Greg Shaw, who began writing about ‘60s garage bands in his Spring 1971 issue of Who Put The Bomp! Joining him was rock critic Lester Bangs, who published several articles that year in Bomp! and Creem magazine on the joys of listening to garage rock. Then music journalist Lenny Kaye compiled an album of ‘60s garage songs called Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968. Released by Elektra in 1972 and re-released by Sire in 1976, this compilation album exposed 1970s rock fans to garage music and helped to inspire the punk/New Wave movement of the mid to late ‘70s.

Nuggets also spawned a slew of other compilation albums that were vital to inspiring several more garage movements, including the neo-garage and neo-psychedelic movements of the 1980s, the garage-punk movement of the late 1980s, the grunge movement of the late 1980s to early ‘90s, and several other garage rock revivals that occurred in the 1990s and 2000s, all of which involve bands playing primitive rock and roll with a garage sensibility. Thus, Seth Bovey will show, garage rock acts as a kind of avant-garde impulse – forcing rock music to advance – while remaining in touch with the past for inspiration and guidance.

The book will take a global perspective on a phenomenon that has grown and mutated over the last fifty years or so, touching almost every corner of the world.



SETH BOVEY is Professor of English at Louisiana State University of Alexandria. He has previously written about garage punk for the journal Popular Music and Society, and has published widely on aspects of popular culture. He is also a musician (guitar and bass guitar) who played in several garage bands in the 1970s and early ‘80s.



By John Scanlan

John Scanlan is the Series Editor of Reverb with Reaktion Books.