“Completing the Sketches….” - A behind the scenes look at the creation of Sketches Of Hackett by Alan Hewitt.
Well, sorry folks I couldn’t resist a shameless plug for this one. The new baby has now been safely delivered despite the occasional hiccup and I have to say, as its father, I am as proud as proud can be of my new baby!
Projects like this don’t just happen overnight though. In fact, Sketches Of Hackett has probably had the longest gestation period of any project I have ever tried my hand at. I suppose the biggest difference this time is that the project is officially sanctioned by Steve himself. Authorised biographies function in a completely different way to the unauthorised or independent versions so many of which appear these days and the criteria that operate in both cases are greatly different from each other. This is the story of how this project finally came to fruition.
Initially back in 2002, after having successfully published my first book; Opening The Musical Box - A Genesis Chronicle, I hadn’t really given any thought on a prospective follow-up project until several friends suggested that I might have a go at writing something specifically about Steve’s career. The idea of doing something “official” didn’t enter my head but I decided to approach Steve’s then manager for permission to possibly organise something and I was quite surprised when Steve not only gave his approval but became actively involved with the project from the start.
Work on the book began in earnest at the start of 2003 and once my initial ramblings were put into some sort of coherent order, I could begin to organise a “hit” list of who I would need to talk to in order to flesh out the body of the text with sufficient detail to make the idea work legitimately as a book. Steve was a gold mine of information and put me in contact with several people who knew his work from the “inside” including members of his former live bands as well as members of his current studio/live band as well. Gradually over the intervening years, the story began to take proper shape thanks in a large part to the help and assistance of these people as well as the ongoing generosity of members of Steve’s fan base who contributed not only photographic and other illustrative stuff but also pointed me in the direction of such interesting things as radio interviews and other sources of extremely useful material.
Steve’s family too, were extremely generous in their help and assistance, especially Steve’s brother; John and their mum; June who couldn’t have been any more helpful and the end product is largely the result of all their efforts on my behalf.
Working on this project, overlapped to a greater extent with the subsequent update of Opening The Musical Box… which, as Genesis Revisited, appeared in 2007 - a project not without its difficulties but one which on occasions, certainly helped sharpen my focus on the task in hand of telling Steve’s story. Eventually, by the autumn of 2006, I was ready to let Steve see the first draft of what was then referred to as “Walking Away From Rainbows” a title which, thanks to Steve pointing out that it sounded as if he had retired or died, was swiftly changed to the title we now know it by - see, musicians DO have their uses after all!
Sadly, by this time, Steve’s relationship with Kim was drawing to its end and as a result, the book also had to undergo substantial revision as both protagonists ensured that there was nothing in the resulting text which they didn’t approve of or which they might deem potentially contentious. Thankfully, this did not entail a major re-write, more a case of tidying up some points and removing one or two of the more barbed contemporaneous comments. This doesn’t mean that the project has been censored, far from it, but common sense dictates that a broader view is taken of what may have been said in haste or in the heat of the moment. However, for anyone wishing to avail themselves of any of these particular titbits, there is a full list of references at the back of the book and you can look them up yourselves if you wish!
By the beginning of 2009, the project was essentially finished with only updates required to make sure that Steve’s more recent activities were reflected in it. There it remained until one of those wonderful moments of synchronicity took place. During a telephone conversation with Richard Nagy, whom many of you will know from his work on previous editions of TWR, and whom has done a magnificent job on the graphics for Sketches…, he happened to mention that he knew someone who might be interested in publishing the book. As it happened, when he mentioned the name of the chap in question; Jerry Bloom, I had to have a quiet chuckle because I had known Jerry for several years due to our common interest in Blackmore’s Night.
I eventually contacted Jerry and after a lengthy conversation terms were agreed and contracts were signed. What had begun as an entirely speculative venture, was now a bona fide project and here it is ready for your scrutiny and I certainly hope that you enjoy it - a LOT of hard work has gone into it and although it is my name that appears on the title, this project could not have become a reality without the help of a great many people so take a bow….
Stephen Richard Hackett (without whom etc…), June Leaney (Without whom Steve wouldn’t be here in the first place!); John and Katrin Hackett for all their help and encouragement. To Steve’s new lady; Joanna Lehmann for her quiet patience and practical assistance. To all the musicians and associates of Steve’s who have provided so much help and assistance. My grateful thanks to Jerry Bloom of Wymer Publishing for taking the job on. To Roger Newport for his superb DVD editing skills. To Richard Nagy and Sarah Dean without whom the graphics and text would not be as good as they are! Special thanks too must go to Paul and Stephanie the proud publicans at The Cricketers, for their amazing hospitality The fans, and in particular; Peter Gozzard, Roger Salem, Ted Sayers, Mario Giammetti and Mino Profumo and all the other members of the “Hacketteers” who have given unstintingly of their time and support - it’s for you, folks!
If ever you are in the Bedord area, give The Cricketer’s Arms a try - plenty of real ales, a good selection of food and great hospitality from Paul and Stephanie - tell them “Scouse Alan” sent you or check out their web site: www.cricketersarms.co.uk