Could This Be Magic? has been a journey for me as I wanted to tie up what I knew about doo-wop and work out the full back (and black) history of the music.
I also thought it would be great fun to spend a summer listening to doo-wop and then writing about it in the winter.
This book tells the story of doo-wop from the start and has profiles of key musicians and players along the way. We follow the music through the 1960s to the present and see how it has been taken up by other performers. In particular, I wanted to show the virtues of British doo-wop, which has been all but ignored. Indeed, the very juxtaposition of those two words will fill some diehard rockers with horror. I also look at doo-wop in the rest of the world.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 April 2020
To most serious lovers of popular music author Spencer Leigh will need no introduction. For many years a highly regarded broadcaster on Radio Merseyside his long-running programme 'On The Beat' is the stuff of legend, always well worth tuning into. As are his extensively researched and highly readable biographies on artists such as Buddy Holly, Paul Simon and Frank Sinatra, just three I can highly recommend. His latest tome, 'Could This Be Magic?' is the perfect introduction to and exploration of 'Doo-wop'. Pacy and superbly detailed it will have fans delving through their record collections to seek out those gems they have not played in a while, surely the best commendation for any book about music.
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 April 2020
This is a very entertaining, informative read which fills a definite gap in music history.
4.0 out of 5 stars A British perspective on one of the classic American music genres
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 May 2020
A very interesting read, of extremely broad scope, covering the origins of "doo-wop", the great groups and records of its heyday, and its influence on later pop and rock music.
Spencer talked about the book with Janice Long on BBC Radio Wales who says, “Spencer is an absolute icon. His passion for music is inspirational. I love the way he passes it on with his writing and broadcasting. Long may he reign.”
Danielz from T. Rextasy has been reading Could This Be Magic:
“Phew! Just finished reading this most interesting and informative book. So much falls into place with its intricate interweaving between songs, singers, bands and writers.”
David Charters of the Liverpool Echo comments,
“Spencer Leigh is the master of his craft. And that craft is telling how popular music has influenced the lives of countless millions, becoming the great cultural force of the 20th century. As well as telling the story of doo-wop, his essays on the Prisonaires and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers touch with passion on nerve-scraping subjects, whilst also celebrating genius, endurance,courage and love. Nothing is unnecessarily dramatised. It all happened. The staying power of Dion is a lesson for all those young musicians who now offer us their tortured souls. This book is masterful and comprehensive and facts are always placed before sentiment, as they should be”
Ron Ellis of the Southport Champion says
“Everybody who has any interest at all in doo-wop has got to buy this book. It has everything –a detailed history of the genre from the very first doo-wop record (by the Ravens); details of release dates; biographies of the artists and background to the music scene. What really makes it exceptional are Spencer Leigh’s acerbic comments and observations (‘Earth Angel’ must be the best use of an oxymoron in popular music’). There are realms of interesting information about both artists and songs that would never be found in a straight reference book.”
As Garry Christian of the Christians says in the Foreword,
“Spencer Leigh's book reminds me of how great these records are.”
Could This Be Magic: The Story of Doo-Wop is available on Kindle and is only £4. Buy a copy and spend the whole day being transported back to the late 1950s.