Jumpin Jack Flash: David Litvinoff and the Rock 'n' Roll Underworld

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9780224098120: Jumpin Jack Flash: David Litvinoff and the Rock 'n' Roll Underworld

A fascinating quest for one of London's legendary characters.
     David Litvinoff (1928-75) was 'one of the great mythic characters of '60s London' -- outrageous, possessed of a lightning wit and intellect, dangerous to know, always lurking in the shadows as the spotlight shone on his famous friends. Flitting between the worlds of music, art and crime, he exerted a hidden influence that helped create the Kray twins' legend and Lucian Freud's reputation as a man never to be crossed; connected the Rolling Stones with London's dark side; redirected Eric Clapton's musical career; and shaped the plot of the classic film Performance by revealing his knowledge of the city's underworld, a decision that put his life in danger.
     Litvinoff's determination to live without trace means that his life has always eluded biographers, until now. This extraordinary feat of research entailed 100 interviews over five years: the result is by turns wickedly funny, appalling, revelatory and moving, and epic in its scope as it traces a rogue's progress at the interface of bohemia and criminality from the early Fifties to the Seventies. It is also an account of Keiron Pim's determined pursuit of Litvinoff's ghost, which took him from London to Wales and Australia in a quest to reveal one of British pop culture's last great untold stories.
     His interviewees span all the worlds in which Litvinoff moved. They include musicians such as Eric Clapton and Marianne Faithfull; actors including Performance stars James Fox and Johnny Shannon; upper class friends of Litvinoff's such as society antiques dealer Christopher Gibbs and the eccentric Lord Harlech; criminals such as 'Mad' Frankie Fraser and associates of the Kray twins; artists Martin Sharp and Nigel Waymouth; writers such as Iain Sinclair, Alan Moore and David's half-brother Emanuel Litvinoff; and Bob Geldof, who now owns the house in which Litvinoff committed suicide.

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About the Author:

KEIRON PIM is aged 37, married with three young daughters and lives in Norwich, where he was for a decade the literary editor of the Eastern Daily Pressnewspaper before leaving to concentrate on writing books. He is the author of The Bumper Book of Dinosaurs (Square Peg) and he edited and introduced Into the Light: the Medieval Hebrew Poetry of Meir of Norwich, the first translated edition of England's only major medieval Hebrew poet.

Review:

"The rock'n'roll legend of David Litvinoff is given its definitive account. A considerable work of detection and human sympathy unpicking old myths and making them new." -- Iain Sinclair "This surely has the most startling beginning of any biography to be published this year... Vivid, engrossing... Pim gives an all too graphic picture of the seedy 1950s... He is compassionate and humane at every moment. His prose is always careful and stylish." -- Richard Davenport-Hines Guardian "Blending pop culture, social history and interviews with raddled survivors, Pim reconstructs every scene in Litvinoff's twisted history... Jumpin' Jack Flash provides the missing piece of Swinging London's social jigsaw." -- Dominic Green Literary Review "Blending pop culture, social history and interviews with raddled survivors, Pim reconstructs every scene in Litvinoff's twisted history... Jumpin' Jack Flash provides the missing piece of Swinging London's social jigsaw." -- Dominic Green Literary Review "Fascinating biography... Pim has a thorough knowledge of his subject and his milieu and is painstaking in his research... Against the odds, Keiron Pim has written a very good book about a very bad man." -- David Collard Times Literary Supplement "A captivating and prodigiously well-researched account of that legendary 1960s London sub-world where criminality and bohemianism met head-on." -- D. J. Taylor "Pim's account of this extraordinary character is a magisterial work of scholarship." -- Colin MacCabe New Statesman "Revelatory... The impressive list of character references in this extraordinary book gives some indication of just how singular a creature [David Litvinoff] was, and the mind-boggling diversity of the worlds in which he moved." -- Mick Brown Daily Telegraph "Keiron Pim has grafted long and hard to separate the facts from the heady fictions... Pim does a great job of bringing the era and some of its most colourful characters to life." -- Chris Maume Independent "Litvinoff was a shape-shifter whose story...offers a window into a secret side of the 60s." -- Jon Savage Guardian "Keiron Pim's Jumping Jack Flash is an outstanding study of a remarkable, but until now wholly elusive figure. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, Pim's work is the first to bring us the story of David Litvinoff, that real-life Zelig of post-war British bohemia. And via the magnesium flare of his subject's story, Pim illumines the multifaceted world through which he moved: East End gangsters, Chelsea aristos, Soho artists and Notting Hill hippies. Litvinoff, for so long the missing piece of so many cultural jigsaws, finally gets a story of his own and it's even more bizarre than one might have hoped. This will be an indispensable read for anyone who appreciates that mad, alluring, myth-filled world." -- Jonathon Green, author of 'Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground' "Keiron Pim's Jumping Jack Flash is a kaleidoscopic ride through the acid-fields of Fities and Sixties London in search of David Litvinoff, a brilliant, desolate, unforgettable yet hard-to-focus gay Jewish grifter. Ironic stereotype and rebel at once, Litvinoff chars the car-crash societies he moves through. Mick Jagger, Lucian Freud and the Kray twins flash past in the throng, all sustained by drugs, sex, art, film and a great deal of rock'n'roll. Litvinoff is dazzling. Pim's pilgrimage is appropriately and meticulously dazzled." -- George Szirtes "Pim is a skilful and erudite writer." -- Clive Davis The Times "Pim has set out to write the definitive biography of a man who was the very definition of an unreliable narrator... Fascinating." -- Andrew Anthony Observer "A tour-de-force of biography, a beautifully written account of a compelling but often repulsive man. It's hard to imagine anyone getting closer to the truth than Keiron." Eastern Daily Press

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