Jim Simpson announces memoir  ‘Don’t Worry ‘bout the Bear’

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50 years since the release of Black Sabbath’s first LP, their original manager Jim Simpson introduces his musical memoir Don’t Worry ‘bout the Bear in two special events in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield.

February 13th, 1969 – the birth of Heavy Metal with the release of legendary Birmingham group Black Sabbath’s ground-breaking first album.

50 years on – Waterstones in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield will celebrate the anniversary with a special regional launch of an acclaimed book that gives the inside story on the early days of Black Sabbath and much else on the Birmingham, national and international music scene of the past 60 years.

Don’t Worry ‘bout the Bear is the story of Birmingham’s Big Bear Music group and its founder Jim Simpson, told by Jim himself with the assistance of his brother Ron Simpson. On Thursday 13th February in Birmingham and Saturday 15th February in Sutton Coldfield, they’ll be talking through just some of the highs and lows of six decades and counting in the music business, including:

  • Henry’s Blueshouse, deemed the most progressive club outside of London, hosted American stars such as Champion Jack Dupree and all the top British blues bands as well as being the place where Black Sabbath cut their teeth.
  • The early story of Black Sabbath is told not only in words, but in hitherto unpublished photographs.
  • The American Blues Legends tours of the 1970s brought the likes of Doctor Ross, Cousin Joe and Lightnin’ Slim to Europe. The book contains vivid portraits of these often eccentric giants of the blues.
  • The book begins in Birmingham’s jazz world of the 1950s and continues through to 36 years of the Birmingham jazz festival, with intimate accounts of such jazz greats as Humphrey Lyttelton and Kenny Baker.
  • Ronnie Scott’s in Broad Street was all too briefly a beacon of musical quality. From the viewpoint of the booking and publicity agent find out what went wrong – and what went right!
  • Internationally the focus moves from recording in Kansas City and Chicago to the delights and perils of running a jazz festival in crime-ridden Marbella.
  • Failures of judgement (or maybe not) led to Big Bear turning down the management of The Sex Pistols and UK release rights to The Birdie Song.
  • Throughout the book is filled with reminiscences of fondly-remembered or still-popular Birmingham and Midlands bands and musicians: from Locomotive, Muscles and the Quads through to the Whiskey Brothers and King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys, not to mention jazz legends Mike Burney, Duncan Swift and Val Wiseman.

Both launches will include an audio visual presentation as well as a discussion of the book – and the characters and events in it – and an opportunity for a question and answer session.

The Birmingham Launch takes place at Waterstones, High Street at 6pm on Thursday 13th February with tickets priced at £3 and available from www.waterstones.com or in store. Following this, the Sutton Coldfield Launch at Waterstones on The Parade begins at 7pm on Saturday 15th February and is free of charge, with entry on a first come, first served basis.