Writings & Talks

On Nico – the life and lies of an icon:

‘A biography that encapsulates an entire age’  (The Times)

‘He blends compassion, scepticism and admiration…”She emanated something more than beauty, something more sublime, a different seduction,” wrote Jean Baudrillard of her. Witts helps us to see what that seduction was’ (Vogue)


On Artist Unknown – a history of the Arts Council:

‘That anyone should be capable of producing an eminently readable, even enjoyable, 500-page study of a quango is something of a marvel. That it should provoke the reader to laugh out loud is the sort of achievement that deserves, well, how about a grant from the Arts Council’s literary department?’ 

(Dan Glaister, The Guardian)

‘Riveting, witty and iconoclastic’

  (The Independent):

On The Velvet Underground:

‘Witts’s little marvel of a book… It is a careful, funny, refreshing, and a corrective to all kinds of illnesses in the genre.’ 

(Mark Greif, The London Review of Books)

‘Academic books on popular subjects can be impenetrable balderdash but this one isn’t. I think the general reader should be pretty satisfied. Above all, it sends you back to the music. 

(Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian)

On The Passage Post-Punk Poets:

Combining hazy visions of an 80s nightclub at 2am and an unflinching eye for satire and political commentary, these lyrics are as pertinent and forceful as they were during the post-punk heyday


Chronology of Works

December 2021
Record Collector no.526, Christmas 2021, pp.73-79
Once Upon A Time In the North-West: interview with Richard Witts by Allan Glen.
June 2021
Popular Music (Cambridge University Press) 40/1 pp180-2
Book review: The Free Trade Hall, Manchester 1951-96 by Richard Lysons (2020).
December 2020
Revue française de civilisation britannique XXVI -1, OpenEdition.org
Article: La Réforme de la radio: la politique musicale de la BBC 1957-1967 (Reforming Radio: BBC Music Policy 1957-67)

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November 2020
Dublin, Hope Publications. ISBN 978-0-9955475-2-0
Kristiansand 1981 in ed. McGuirk, Niall and Murphy, Michael: Great Gig Moments

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February 2018
Equinox, Sheffield. ISBN-13 (Paperback): 9781781795712 EBook 9781781796139
Book Chapter: ‘Sounds Northern’ ed. EH Mazierska. Chapter: ‘Manpool, the Musical: Harmony and counterpoint on the Lancashire Plain.’
December 2017
Rupert Loydell for the journal Punk & Post Punk
An interview with Richard Witts


Manpool, the musical: harmony and counterpoint on the Lancashire Plain

Manpool Essay

March 2017
Penguin Books, London. pp.334, ISBN 978-0863696558
Nico – the life and lies of an icon. Kindle edition.
March 2017
Eyewear Publishing, London. pp.110. ISBN 978-1911335-47-4
The Passage: Post Punk Poets
July 2015
Published in The Musical Times vol. 50 no. 1931 pp. 9-22
Essay: Shopping and Fricker: the origins of the Cheltenham Festival of Modern British Music and the ‘Cheltenham Symphony’.

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Popular music History vol.7 no.3, 2012, pp.241-262
Needle Time: the BBC, the Musicians’ Union, popular music, and the reform of radio in the 1960s

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July 2011
Post-1900 International Conference, Hope University, July 2011.
Diva Redux – The Modern Home of Enterprise and Agency

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June 2009
Farnham, Ashgate, pp.19-32.
Building Up A Band: music for a second city, in Mark E. Smith and The Fall: art, music and politics.
Music in British Society Seminar, Institute of British History, Senate House, London 2003
Adrian Boult, Thomas Russell, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra communist witch-hunt of 1952.

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November 2002
The Musical Times 140.2 no.1867 pp.11-19.
Remastering the past: on renewing British music.
Early Music
How To Make A Saint: on interpreting Hildegard of Bingen.

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January 1997
Oxford, Perspective Publications pp.253-275.
‘Arts & Culture’ in Understanding British Institutions.
Interview by Richard Witts for BBC Radio 3 with Karlheinz Stockhausen, Kollegienkirche, Salzburg Festival, 23 July 1995 From The Wire 14
Stockhausen vs. the “Technocrats”:

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