Giorgio Gomelsky was rather unusual among the movers, shakers and hustlers who thrived in the 1960s, but you might not think so if all you knew about him was what’s contained in this book. The author, a friend of Gomelsky for decades, skims over many of the finer details of the subject’s life, including virtually all of those that qualify this book for review on a website dedicated to jazz.
Thus, there’s plenty about Gomelsky’s role as the first manager of the Rolling Stones, much of it far from revelatory as it constitutes ground already well covered, and his association with the Yardbirds, and while his work with Soft Machine, Gong and Magma is covered, his association with Henry Cow is referred to only in passing, while the fact that he produced a Spontaneous Music Ensemble album doesn’t figure at all.
That said, this book isn’t exhaustive or forensically researched, and neither is it a biography in the conventional sense, but rather the product of a friendship which clearly mattered, and which may still matter, to the author. The picture which emerges from it is that of an individual culturally attuned to an unusual degree.
Gomelsky could be said to be unusual also in the manner in which he was appreciative of imperatives outside of the commercial mainstream, and by implication commercial and popular success. That he also handled two of the most commercially successful bands of the 1960s serves, in a way, to underscore his individuality.
Passing time – and the culturally superficial, shallow era in which we now live – serve to emphasise the gulf that exists between now and then. This is something this book makes apparent, for all of the text’s tendency to barrel along at the expense of both detail (outside of the anecdotal) and analysis.
Giorgio Gomelsky ‘For Your Love’, The Incredible Life Of A Music Impresario For The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds & Magma, by Francis Dumaurier. Supernova / Aurora Metro, 201pp, pb, £14.99. ISBN 978-1-913641-34-4