Shake Some Action: My Life in Music (and other stuff)By Stuart CoupePenguin Books
“You’re talking to Stuart Coupe?” remarked my wife excitedly, after I told her I’d catching up with Stuart at the tail end of an impending work trip to Sydney. “Tell him I used to read his column in ‘Dolly’ all the time! We all did!”
To thousands of teenagers – especially teenage girls – in the 1980s, Stuart Coupe was the guy who wrote that column in Dolly, championing music he liked, dissing commercial dross he didn’t, and offering various observations and advice on various non-music topics, including kissing and the art of romance.
Not being a reader of the magazine, I wasn’t familiar with Coupe’s work with “Dolly”, though his by-line did appear in regular dispatches in music magazines and newspapers. Decades later I interviewed Coupe for my Spencer P Jones biography; one thing led to another, and he became instrumental – in fact, was the critical force – in my obtaining a publishing deal. So, full disclosure, I consider Stuart Coupe a friend and sincere supporter of all the best things in music.
“Shake Some Action” tells Coupe’s story, from his childhood in Launceston, to his formative years in Adelaide as a music writer, to syndicated columns (and "Dolly"!), the chaotic world of band management, the heady, drug and alcohol fuelled world of music industry largesse and the harsh economic reality of tour promotion and label ownership.
The Flamin' Groovies in Paris in 1972 with James Ferrell at right.
Long obscured in the Flamin’ Groovies behind Cyril Jordan, Roy Loney, Chris Wilson and even tight-lipped man of mystery, George Alexander, guitarist James Ferrell is a key player in the band’s story. Along with his best pal Danny Mihm, James served in both the Loney-fronted and Wilson-fronted incarnations of the Groovies, and in Loney’s brilliant subsequent band, Roy Loney & The Phantom Movers.
James climbed aboard the Groovies train, replacing Tim Lynch, in Roy’s final days – he plays on the classic 1971 Fillmore recording that’s been released on both Voxx and Norton as well as other labels – and lasted through to 1976. He took part in the early European sojourns, their time with UA in London and the prime days of their relationship with Dave Edmunds and Rockfield Studios. That relationship produced game-changing 45’s, including “Slow Death” and “You Tore Me Down”, as well as the landmark and hugely influential "Shake Some Action" album.
James was there for the band’s legendary shows with the Ramones – on the 1976 Bicentennial bill in London and in LA - before departing the band and ultimately falling back in with Roy and Danny.