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Barry Miles

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Subject: Counterculture of the 1960s, Arts Lab, Better Books, Cyclops (magazine), Stephen Abrams
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Barry Miles

Barry Miles
Born 1943
Cirencester, England
Other names Miles

Barry Miles, or "Miles" (born 1943, Cirencester, England), is an English author known for his participation in and writing on the subjects of the 1960s London underground and counterculture. He is the author of numerous books and his work has also regularly appeared in left-wing papers such as The Guardian. In the 1960s, he was co-owner of the Indica Gallery and helped start the independent newspaper International Times.

Life and work

In the 1960s, Miles worked at Better Books, which was managed by Tony Godwin. Godwin was friends with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, with whom he would exchange Penguin books for City Lights publications. In 1965 Allen Ginsberg gave a reading at Better Books that led to the International Poetry Incarnation, a seminal event co-organised by Miles.

In 1965, Miles and his wife, the former Susan Crane,[1] introduced Paul McCartney to hash brownies by using a recipe for hash fudge that they had found in The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook.[2]

Following the International Poetry Incarnation, Miles established the Indica Gallery and Bookshop, allowing him to meet many of the stars of the Swinging London social scene.[3] Miles brought McCartney into contact with people who wanted to start International Times, which McCartney helped to fund.[4]

With The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream, a concert on 29 April 1967 at Alexandra Palace to raise funds for International Times. It was a multi-artist event, featuring poets, artists and musicians. Pink Floyd headlined the event; other artists included: Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Arthur Brown, jazz-rock group Soft Machine, Tomorrow and The Pretty Things.

Miles became the de facto manager of the Apple's short-lived Zapple Records label in 1969. While temporarily living in California, Miles produced an album of poetry readings by Richard Brautigan entitled Listening to Richard Brautigan for Zapple. Miles's friendship with Brautigan ended when Miles became involved in an affair with Brautigan's girlfriend Valerie Estes. By the time, the album was completed Miles and Brautigan communicated to each other only through their respective lawyers.[5] Zapple was closed before it could release the Brautigan album, but it was eventually released in 1970 by the U.S. division of Harvest Records.

In 1970, Miles moved with his wife to rural New York state, where he lived with Allen Ginsberg on his farm. However, Miles's marriage soon ended and he returned to England.[1]

Miles's book Hippie is a reminiscence of the Hippie sub-culture of the 1960s and early 1970s, with interviews, quotes, and images. He co-wrote I Want to Take You Higher (documenting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit by the same name) with Charles Perry and James Henke.

Miles wrote Paul McCartney's official biography, Many Years from Now (1998). Miles has also written biographies of Frank Zappa, John Lennon, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski and Ginsberg, in addition to books on The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Clash,[6][7] as well as a definitive history of London's counterculture since 1945, London Calling.[8]


In March 1978, Miles wrote an article critical of the Canadian band Rush and its drummer Neil Peart, which labeled the band as right-wing.[9] The article, published in UK's New Musical Express, took exception to Peart's advocacy of the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand.[10] Peart had also described the Sex Pistols as products of a "socialist" state.[9][11] Miles also described Rand (a Russian-born anti-communist who had become an American citizen) as an "ultra right-wing American." Miles focused on Peart's politics and criticized the band's perceived aloofness and libertarian rhetoric.

In a 2005 biography of Frank Zappa, in which he made no effort to conceal his disdain or disapproval of his subject, Miles criticized Zappa regarding his business-oriented approach to art and complaints about inefficient labor union regulations.[12] Zappa regularly described himself as "a devout capitalist" and attempted to broker joint commercial ventures with business interests in the former Soviet Union following the end of the Cold War in 1991.[13]


Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Jonathon Green Obituary: Sue Miles, The Guardian (website), 13 October 2010.
  2. ^ Miles, London Calling: A Countercultural History of London Since 1945, 2010, p. 233.
  3. ^ Thomson, Liz: London Calling: A Countercultural History of London Since 1945, By Barry Miles The Independent, Friday, 12 March 2010.
  4. ^ Miles (2010), p. 232.
  5. ^ "Comprehensive information about Richard Brautigan, his life, and writings",
  6. ^ Amazon Review of Many Years from Now,, 4 November 2005. Retrieved on 14 September 2007.
  7. ^ Miles, Barry (1981). The Clash. London; New York: Omnibus Press.  
  8. ^ Barry Miles, London Calling: A Countercultural History of London Since 1945, 2010.
  9. ^ a b "Is everybody feelin' all RIGHT? (Geddit...?)". New Musical Express, 4 March 1978.
  10. ^ The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (Volume 4, Number 1): 161-85
  11. ^ Rush: "Our fans feel vindicated", The Guardian, 24 March 2011.
  12. ^ Zappa: A Biography, Grove Press, 2004.
  13. ^ Feldman, Paul (6 December 1993). "Frank Zappa, Iconoclast of Rock, Dies at 52". Los Angeles Times. 

External links

  • Barry Miles' website
  • 2010 interview with Jon Niccum
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