This intriguing book is subtitled ‘A Girl’s Life in The Incredible String Band’, and is an account of the author’s time in the band from roughly 1967 to 1971. I suppose it’s easy to forget now how innovative and influential ISB were, and how successful they were both in terms of record sales and as a live draw. I’m sure many of us at the very least owned a copy of The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, and remember hearing that extraordinary music for the first time. This isn’t a conventional autobiography as such, the chapters being arranged more around themes than in strict chronological order, giving an insight into how a no nonsense Yorkshire lass whose main interest was mountaineering transformed herself, along with band mate Licorice, into something of a hippy pin up for a new and alternative way of living. In fact, the book is as much about the hippy lifestyle of that period as it is about the band and its music. Rose makes no great claims to having been a talented musician, but perseverance and patience enabled her to move from initially being something of a fish out of water to become a fully-fledged member of the band. Indeed, one of the most interesting aspects of the book is the insight into the relationship between the four individuals/ two couples that made up the band, all very different characters but each contributing their own unique strengths to the overall heady mix. Ultimately they naturally gravitated to the US at the height of flower power, resulting in a chaotic appearance at Woodstock. As the strain of living and working together eventually took its toll on their Arcadian dreams and their collective vision of Utopia, the influence of Scientology also exerted its grip on some band members, leading to more rifts in the ranks. Eventually, on New Year’s Eve of 1970, Rose simply walked away from the band and its friendships with barely a backwards glance, no ill feelings, just a natural progression to the next stage – a baby was on the way and a new chapter in her life beckoned far away from the confines of ISB. This is an excellent read, honest and intoxicating, with the dreamy text accompanied by a super selection of photographs, that shine a light on an extraordinary story played out in extraordinary times.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
This is a delightful and captivating memoir of a life and times that seem so far away now – if you are an ISB fan of old or are simply interested in the hippy culture of that time then this is an essential read.
One thing you’ve learned
Rose moved on to a new life with her daughter, her subsequent career, far away from the music scene, encompassing activities as diverse as working for the Probation Service, gaining a PhD in German Literature and spending a year as Lady Mayoress of Aberystwyth.