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The story of the year that rock music exploded, featuring almost every star who defined the decade


The Sixties ended a year late – on New Year's Eve 1970, when Paul McCartney initiated proceedings to wind up The Beatles. Music would never be the same again.
The next day would see the dawning of a new era. 1971 saw the release of more monumental albums than any year before or since and the establishment of a pantheon of stars to dominate the next forty years – Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Rod Stewart, the solo Beatles and more.
January that year fired the gun on an unrepeatable surge of creativity, technological innovation, blissful ignorance, naked ambition and outrageous good fortune. By December rock had exploded into the mainstream.
How did it happen? This book tells you how. It's the story of 1971, rock’s golden year.


David Hepworth's argument is simple: 1971 was "the most febrile and creative time in the entire history of popular music". It's an enormous assertion but he makes his point with infectious enthusiasm . . . Whether you agree is beside the point. This is a compelling love letter to a year of timeless music.


A clever and entertaining book . . . Hepworth proves a refreshingly independent thinker. His style is pithy and his eye for anecdotal detail sharp . . . a thoroughly provoking delight

Daily Telegraph

This is no ‘my generation is cooler than yours’ nostalgia trip. Just as movements in art, jazz or TV undeniably had Golden Ages then so too with the long-playing record and its seismic effect on subsequent generations. David Hepworth’s forensic sweep of this astonishing twelve months is thoroughly absorbing and appropriately rollicking, expertly guiding us through one miraculous year in all its breathless tumble of creation.

Danny Baker

A good mix of entertainment, insight and odd facts. Hepworth’s thesis is largely convincing


An engaging and thought-provoking read. It’s a dry-eyed but deeply felt love note to the date when rock was still busy inventing itself. Hepworth points out more than once that at the time he had no idea how lucky he hwas. He knows now – and so do we

Mail on Sunday

Soon every post-war year will have its own tombstone book, but this is already one of the best

GQ, Editor’s Hit List

Near the beginning, Hepworth argues that 1971 saw the pop era giving way to rock. Even so, his own approach is much more like the best pop: never taking itself too seriously, essentially out to entertain — but also an awful lot smarter than its absence of solemnity might lead you to think.


Fond, funny, beautifully written and fizzing with sharp and sweeping theories that instantly feel like facts.

Mark Ellen

Scientifically unprovable but entertaining, illuminating and lipsmacking . . . a mighty fine and convincing read

Classic Rock

There's a bit of a fashion at the moment for books focussing on a particular year and David Hepworth's 1971 is one of the best


Anyone who misses Word magazine like an old friend, has just found the perfect read.

Paul Dowswell, author of Auslander

Hepworth lifts the lid on the unrepeatable year when rock's lunatics finally took over the asylum.

Chris Adams author of The Grail Guitar -The Search for Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze Telecaster

Full of fascinating detail and obviously a labour of love, a must for anyone who can remember the Seventies or who was there.

Rosalind Miles, author of The Women's History of the World

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    March 20, 2017

    Black Swan

    432 pages

    RRP $28.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • Trade Paperback


    May 30, 2016

    Bantam Press

    384 pages

    RRP $45.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    April 7, 2016

    Transworld Digital

    384 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia NZ

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