Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
In the introduction to his fascinating new memoir, Everything Is Combustible: Television, CBGB’s And Five Decades Of Rock And Roll: The Memoirs Of An Alchemical Guitarist, Richard Lloyd gets to the heart of an exhausting issue that plagues way too many rock bios. “Some biographies and autobiographies try my patience with fantastic genealogies; how so-and-so’s great-grandfather crossed the Atlantic in a rowboat with 39 cents… I slog through the first third of the book like someone waiting in line to ride a rollercoaster.”
Fortunately for all of us, the guitar icon has lived the kind of life that defies the effects of slog. From nearly the first page, you’re already strapped into the ride, clinking ever higher above the ground as he weaves together thrilling and sordid tales of his time spent in mental institutions, seedy rock clubs, and those formative years as a member of one of the greatest and most impactful bands in the history of rock and roll, Television. I was continuously blown away as he recalls backstage encounters with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, and Led Zeppelin; along with a series of unforgettable nights playing with Blondie, Talking Heads or Patti Smith at CBGB or across the pond over in England.
The style is conversational. The actual experience poring through Everything Is Combustible feels like sitting next to a guy at a bar as he unloads about all the most fascinating and intimate details of his life. At different points I found myself alternately shocked, appalled, fascinated, and doubled-over in laughter. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Lloyd about his new book, elaborate on some of the juicer stories therein, and find out whether or not he might ever play with his one-time bandmate Tom Verlaine again.
When did you decide you wanted to write this book?
Many years ago. I tell stories all the time about events I’ve witnessed or gone through, and people have asked, “Well, why don’t you write a book?” I have an almost flawless, episodic memory, so I began to write down episodes, you know, little vignettes, maybe two-pages of this one or five pages of that one.
You’ve led such an interesting life, have done so many different things, and met so many different people; how did you decide what should go into the book, and what to leave on the cutting room floor?