Author(s): Richard Balls
Stiff Records was launched in 1976 by maverick music entrepreneurs Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson. Championing the underdogs - the square pegs that didn't fit the music industry's round holes - Stiff Records tore up the rulebook, packaging and marketing their artists in ways that made the major labels look like dinosaurs. They turned pub rockers such as Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and Ian Dury into hip new wavers. The Damned's 'New Rose' gave Stiff the UK's first punk single too. Madness and The Pogues also joined this eclectic roster. It all began in a small west London shop before going global during an eleven-year rollercoaster ride of rock 'n' roll excess, fights, package tours and smash hit records. And it didn't stop there; Stiff was reborn in 2006. Richard Balls (author of Sex Drugs Rock 'N' Roll: The Life Of Ian Dury) tells Stiff's remarkable story for the first time via original research and more than 50 interviews with those who were there, such as Shane MacGowan, Lene Lovich, Jona Lewie, Wreckless Eric and Graham Parker. Read this fascinating book and remember when rock was fun.
In a tribute to Stiff's use of coloured vinyl and different coloured covers, the book is being published with five different limited edition coloured covers. The colours (blue, red, green, yellow and white) are the colours of the albums that the five acts (Jona Lewie, Rachel Sweet, Lene Lovich, Mickey Jupp and Wreckless Eric) who made up the Be Stiff tour of 1978 released. Reprints will be in a black jacket, as Stiff always re-pressed on black vinyl.
Richard Balls is the author of Sex & Drugs & Rock 'N' Roll: The Life Of Ian Dury for Omnibus (2000). He furthers his passion for the new wave era with Be Stiff. A native of Norwich, he works for the City Council as publicity manager. He lives in the city with his wife and two children and is a passionate fan of Norwich City. He is the cousin of Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.