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Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World With Billy Bragg

In conjunction with the recent release of his book Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World, the GRAMMY Museum welcomes GRAMMY-nominated English musician, political activist, and now author Billy Bragg to the Clive Davis Theater for an intimate conversation on his career and book. Roots, Radicals and Rockers is Bragg’s take on how skiffle (a guitar-led take on American roots music played by British teenagers in the 1950s) helped change the world of music. Bragg’s original take on this genre of music is one of the first of its kind, and explores in-depth how this simple style of music helped pave the way for British rockers like The Who, Pink Floyd and many others. Roots, Radicals and Rockers has received praise from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, among others. Skiffle music, which first emerged in the ’50s, is a simple style of music featuring guitar, tea-chest bass and washboard. The style’s emergence into the music scene helped guitar sales leap between 1950 and 1957, leading to many young musicians exploring the guitar. The movement’s big break came in 1954, when Lonnie Donegan covered Lead Belly’s "Rock Island Line," which would go on to inspire none other than Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. Some of the biggest bands during the British Invasion of the ’60s (The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, among many others), had members who gained influence either from playing in, or learning from skiffle style artists. The style was especially popular for young British artists, who, in England were part of a ’50s consumer boom, providing more teenagers with money to spend, and skiffle provided them a culture to be apart of. Apart from his now successful writing career, Bragg has also held a distinguished music career. Born in England during the skiffle craze, Bragg’s early musical years were influenced by the music revolution happening across the world in the ’60s and ’70s. First gaining traction in the early ’80s, Bragg’s politically charged lyrics in conjunction with his catchy melodies led to many successes on both British and American charts. Some of his biggest influences were The Clash, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and many other huge stars of the ’60s and ’70s. Bragg’s first No. 1 single came in 1988 with his cover of The Beatles’ "She’s Leaving Home."

Following the program, Billy Bragg will sign copies of his book in the GRAMMY Museum’s Retail Store. In addition, on the following evening, Oct. 10, Bragg will perform a full set to a sold-out audience at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.