Overpaid, Oversexed and Over There: How a Few Skinny Brits with Bad Teeth Rocked America

Bantam. Dec. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781787632769. $38.95. MUSIC
Music journalist Hepworth traces the importance of British rock in the United States from the early 1960s through the 1980s. Writing in a relaxed style, he sets the scene, detailing the influx of American GIs to Britain during World War II and the subsequent British fascination with American culture. The author spends several chapters on the success of the Beatles in the U.S., then covers 1960s “swinging London” and early British invasion bands, like the Rolling Stones and the unadulterated pop of Herman’s Hermits. He progresses to the 1970s with histories of Elton John, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, the Who, and the Sex Pistols, and concludes with the second British invasion of the early 1980s by MTV-promoted, danceable acts like Soft Cell and Culture Club. Hepworth offers explanations—some of them unconvincing—for the triumph of British rockers in the U.S.: an uncommon allegiance among bandmates; a unique English perspective; an irresistible sex appeal; or other traits, some relying on stereotypes of English humility, playfulness, or dry humor in the face of adversity.
VERDICT Though knowledgeable, Hepworth treads the same ground as countless other British invasion writers. His book will appeal only to readers not already familiar with the topic.
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