The Story of John Nightly

By Tot Taylor

A novel about the rise and fall of a 70s musical prodigy

Tuesday, 30 May 2017



I’m counting down the days to my novel ‘The Story of John Nightly’ being published (27 July 2017). After twelve years (give or take a couple) it’ll be a release. Literally. For ‘publish’, read ‘offload’; out of my brain, off my mind, released into the wild.

Like a song I couldn’t get out of my head, or a childhood poem, the book evokes people, events, circumstances and philosophies which have come and gone, made their mark — or not —and done their thing. It was hard to let it go. Impossible really. But it’s gone now. Real gone.

As the book’s Pledgers and Supporters already know 'John Nightly' is an intense read. Hard to choose an extract or excerpt as it’s more or less impossible to actually extricate a part which makes sense away from the whole, the thing being more akin to a cantata, or fugue and variations (i.e. music format), than anything composed of just (a couple of hundred thousand) words. Word snow, falling through the air like kikusai. Clinging, clashing, floating down before coming together in one very big word conference on the floor. But as I say. It’s done. Here it comes. Outside waiting to come in. Make some space for it please.


Those floating words are very lucky to have the benefit of a kind of ‘super-design’ via a specially painted jacket by the esteemed Bob & Roberta Smith who have made a suitably politicised-looking red and black canvas to adorn its bible-like cover. The philosophy of this artist exactly in sync with my own in terms of the importance of the act of creativity — ‘All Schools should be Art Schools’ — YEAH!! - the absolute need for all of us humans to be ‘creative’ (and thereby maybe a little ‘destructive’ now and then) through each phase of living.

There are still a couple of weeks in which to buy a one-off signed special edition online — and the two minute film I made about the subject is there to view. You can pledge for a copy at the Unbound platform right here and also sign up for Events surrounding the publication. We already had a ‘happening’ at Spiritland with Unbound music authors a couple of weeks back. There are others to follow.

When people ask why there has been no album or any songs at all from me for some thirteen years, the answer is that this book is the album and these chapters are the songs — not just from my ‘new’ record but more or less the last (missing) four or five as well. Any ideas I would have put into music and lyrics are all contained within its pages, but in the form of words. Any themes or musings I might have previously wanted to put on record now bump this tale of ‘rise and fall’ along its jagged course. The numerous references, notes and footnotes are what fuel it. The philosophy inside its covers is cut from a ribbon of themes I wanted to explore by my telling, or retelling, of at least one diverted, disrupted and derailed life story.  Lives which shone incandescently but briefly (as with so many ‘pop music entertainers’) before their flames were snuffed out to be re-lit some thirty years later. Heard that one before? You won’t have. Not like this. Because I haven’t either. Not this real. Not this deep. Not this ‘human’.

I’m sort of on Instagram @tottaylor in the meantime, if you need me. Relaxing in the euphoric post-novel haze of completion of corrections and edits. You can comment there if you like, or send me some unfathomable Chinese symbols!

Let’s stay in contact. Let me know what you think. Perhaps we can meet up and talk it over. Maybe your own story has some resonance with ‘The Story of John Nightly’, my fanfare for the uncommon man. I expect it might.

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Alan Searl
 Alan Searl says:

Hi - great to read that a publication date has been confirmed. Does this mean that you will soon be able to confirm a date for the Book & Launch Party at Riflemaker? As I would be coming down from Edinburgh for the launch, as much notice as possible would be appreciated!

I look forward to receiving my copy of the book.



posted 30th May 2017

Tot Taylor
 Tot Taylor says:

Thank you for that. Yes, Monday 24 July (at the Music Studio, not at Riflemaker). If you pledged for the launch party level then you should have recvd the invite for it +1 from Unbound. Let me know - and I will organize if not. Will look forward to seeing you ( take care, Tot

posted 11th July 2017

Tot Taylor
 Tot Taylor says:

Hi Alan,
you did not make it to the launch I'd like to invite you to the Playback. Pls email me direct at

posted 5th September 2017

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John Nightly’s Cambridge college scarf and ebook

Get ahead in the neck department with this chocolate and pink bespoke saxony wool scarf from Ryder & Amies - scarfmakers to the some of the best brains in Cambridge, England - as worn by John Nightly circa 1968. Includes the ebook edition.
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