Music reporter Vicki McCarthy caught up with local author Sammy Jones to talk about her new book on the exciting music history of Milton Keynes.
With the beginning of 2021 still giving us no clue as to when live music events can safely return, all we can do is reminisce over gigs and concerts of the past, while waiting patiently for gigs and concerts of the future.
For Christmas, I was lucky enough to receive a much-wanted gift from my boyfriend Don, that provides local music memories in spades.
Milton Keynes – Wired for Sound is the long-awaited book written by local journalist and music-lover Sammy Jones, covering the rich, varied – and sometimes surprising – history of Milton Keynes’ music scene. I recently caught up with Sammy over the phone to find out more.
Nine years in the making, and a labour of love for its author, how was the idea for the book conceived?
“I’ve been writing about music in Milton Keynes for over 20 years,” Sammy explained. “I worked at MK Citizen while still at school, eventually becoming a freelance writer for them, and some UK music publications before I became the Editor of the Go! Magazine, which covered local music and leisure events.”
But that’s not all. Due to Sammy’s passion for music, she became a regular visitor at Linford Manor studios, which saw big name artists record their albums on its premises.
The studios were owned by Pete Winkelman, now known for being chairman of MK Dons, and it had a stream of credible musicians through its doors.
Sammy elaborated, “You have to remember, preinternet, the Go! Magazine really was the only place to go to find out what was happening in MK. So, when I became Editor, I decided to take the supplement to the next level.
“Due to my relationship with Pete and the producers visiting the Manor, I had access to some great artists and it helped me network and establish connections for interviews, which served me well when these artists came to play live in MK later down the line.”
But who has Sammy had the pleasure of interviewing in the past? Well there’s many!
From rock gods Metallica, Black Sabbath, Guns n’ Roses and Bon Jovi, who all played at MK Bowl over the years, to more recent interviews with Black Eyed Peas and Take That, who played at Arena MK and Stadium MK, respectively.
“Over the years, I’ve kept cuttings of my interviews, gig tickets and photos from the local music scene,” Sammy explained. “And it’s it not just famous bands and artists I’ve interviewed and promoted through my writing, but in the main, the local bands too. Which will be used in an upcoming local exhibition I have planned.”
Well, who can forget the only few venues we had in MK back in the day were The Pitz, Dukes, MADCAP,
Bletchley Leisure Centre and The Point.
To recognise the local scene back then, Sammy organised the Go! Awards. It was backed by Marshall Amplification and readers voted for their winners in their droves.
Sammy clarified, “It was always important to not only promote, but to also recognise the vibrant local music scene that we had (and still have) here. The awards were my chance to do just that.
“Milton Keynes has seen some of those young, local bands go onto greater things nationally, and internationally. So, I think the book was my opportunity to celebrate the local talent, share my stories, highlight some of the key names in the local scene (not just musicians) who made MK so great and showing how they did it.”
Milton Keynes – Wired for Sound is a romp through the decades, and even to someone like me who (in pre-Covid times) was at gigs every week, it was a real eyeopener and education on just how rich our musical history is here in MK.
What have been the highlights for Sammy over the years?
“Besides the obvious, of supporting the local music scene, I was very lucky to find myself in amazing situations while doing my job,” she smiled.
“I witnessed Skunk Anansie and Jamiroquai record their first and third albums respectively, at Linford Manor. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing stars such as Roger Moore and Priscilla Presley. I’ve covered major festivals and even found myself trying to track down an interview while on holiday in L.A!”
Sammy’s passion for local and visiting artists to MK is evident in her book and the interviews and stories ensure it’s a real page-turner.
Sammy added, “Every quote and interview in the book is original, and my own work. Nothing is lifted from websites, or faxed press releases from yesteryear. I’m proud that I’m finally able to share the finished article with other music-lovers.”
So, what’s next? Does Sammy have a sequel tucked away that she could share with us?
“Never say never mate!” Sammy laughed. “Just don’t hold me to it, okay? I hope to do the exhibition sometime this year first.
“If there is another book, I hope it won’t take as long to produce. Taking control of all aspects of the book was a learning curve, and it took some time to complete around other commitments. But it was important to be able to dig into the history of our scene and ensure that there is a record for the
So, plenty more to hopefully look forward to from Sammy.
Now just that small matter of music venues safely opening again…
To buy Milton Keynes – Wired For Sound and for more information about the exhibition visit facebook.com/miltonkeyneswiredforsound and follow Sammy on Twitter @sammyjonespress