Indie founder to ‘cool’ Hackney librarian: Richard Boon plans to pen memoir as he retires
- Credit: Richard Boon
Instigator of the British indie music scene, Richard Boon, tells Emma Bartholomew about managing the Buzzcocks and being christened ‘The World’s Coolest Librarian’
Only one of the four mentions of Richard Boon in Morrissey’s autobiography was libellous apparently – but he doesn’t want to broach that.
“Don’t ask me Morrissey, I don’t talk about Morrissey nowadays,” said Richard, whose name pops up in the index of pretty much every major book on indie music.
Featured as a “living legend” on Robert Elms’ BBC London show this week, Richard was manager of the punk band Buzzcocks. In 1977 he borrowed £600 to set up New Hormones – the first DIY record label in the UK. The first pressing of 1,000 of his band’s debut EP Spinal Scratch quickly sold out.
“It was very well reviewed in the music press, when there was a music press that was valuable, and distributors started getting in touch and it spiralled out of control so to speak,” he said. “But after 16,000 we stopped. We weren’t expecting any of this and it was all coming out of the front room of a house in Salford.”
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It inspired the birth of indie, which saw a generation of punk and post-punk musicians making their own music and releasing it under their own labels.
“People see it as some kind of touchstone moment, and a fetish-ised kicking off of independent labels,” Richard said.
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He moved to Stoke Newington in 1984 to work for Rough Trade records, which was “particularly stressful when The Smiths broke”. Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore lives in Stoke Newington now because he and the band used to sleep on Richard’s floor when they were breaking the UK, along with many others.
In 1991 Richard had had enough of the music industry and when his son Adam was born he became a house husband, then helped run a parent co-operative nursery at William Patten. When Adam started school Richard saw an advert for a job at Hackney Libraries and retires this week after 21 years. “Since I was very small I’ve had a library card and been interested in libraries. It’s an incredible community resource and I get angry about what the government has done to authorities nationwide, which is force them to close libraries.” He has “done wonders for literacy” in Hackney according to Liz Vater who brought him on board to help organise the Stoke Newington Literary Festival 10 years ago, and dubbed him the “world’s coolest librarian”.
He will now pen his memoir, having been mentioned in those of most other punk stars’.