Music journalist, broadcaster and press agent Keith Altham Biography
A seriously scarred rock music journalist, broadcaster and press agent who has interviewed The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, The Byrds, Eric Clapton, The Bee Gees, Joe Cocker, The Animals, Joan Baez, The Cream, Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart, Tom Jones, Frank Zappa, Randy Newman, The Small Faces, Cliff Richard, Gene Vincent, Marvin Gaye, Dusty Springfield, Rod Stewart, Sandie Shaw, The Monkees, Scott Walker, Ray Davies, Van Morrison and The Beach Boys more times than he cares to remember during the Sixties. He also completed the last interview with Jimi Hendrix at The Cumberland hotel just five days before his death in l97O.
He flew with Jimi Hendrix to the first ever rock music festival in Monterrey in l965 where he also heard Otis Redding sing, marvelled at Janis Joplin’s lung power and was baffled by Ravi Shankar before flying back with The Who and Pete Townshend who took an hallucinogenic and conceived “Tommy” from the experience.
As a trainee journalist in the early Sixties he cringed under the sobriquet of “Fab’s Keith” on the legendary IPC teen magazine “Fabulous” (Later “Fab 208”) for two years before being liberated to the NME which he left with the rank of Features Editor “second class” in l969. He subsequently freelanced for Melody Maker, Record Mirror, Disc, Sounds, Fusion, Rave, The Daily Express, The Sun, The Mirror and The Guardian. He was a major interviewer over three years for BBC 2’s “Scene and Heard” which was known as “The music paper of the Air,” prior to running “KA Publicity Ltd”.
As an independent press agent he represented the cream of rock and pop music over the decades including The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jeff Beck, The Beach Boys, Police, Slade, Status Quo, ELP, The Animals, Amen Corner, Van Morrison, Rod Stewart, The Kinks, Scott Walker, Eddy Grant, Genesis, Peter Tosh, AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, The Jam, Eddy Grant, Squeeze, Leo Sayer, Spandau Ballet, Marc Bolan, The Stranglers, Marc Bolan, The Moody Blues, Steve Marriot, Joan Armatrading, Elkie Brooks, Manfred Mann, Billy Idol, Adam Faith, Lonnie Donegan and Donovan.
Altham retired K.A. Publicity in 1993 after which BBC Radio 2 made him the subject of their programme “The Godfather of Rock Music PR” on which ex clients like DJ Annie Nightingale, Sting, Roger Daltrey and Sir Mick Jagger paid tribute. More recently he contributed to “The Changing Styles of Music Journalism” for the BBC.
Amongst his other dubious claims to fame are giving Hendrix the idea for “guitar-flambé” and saddling Reg of The Troggs with his surname “Presley” and turning embryonic Slade into skin heads for publicity purposes. He also slept with Sir Mick Jagger on a Stones’ tour (but then who has not) albeit in separate single beds. Later they fell out!
The veteran music hack still contributes freelance to a number of music magazines and is currently working on two books, the first about his early life in the Sixties provisionally wryly titled "When I was Fab” and another ghosted biography on a well known rock super star. He is sadly smug having been “Pick of the Week” following his contribution to Radio 4’s “Shooting from the Hip” last year and appearing on “Woman’s Hour” for BBC 4 radio in a tribute to Dusty Springfield this year.