Everything Is Combustible by Richard Lloyd review

Fascinating, if uneven, memoir from fêted Television guitarist

Cover art for Everything Is Combustible by Richard Lloyd

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Just as his unique guitar playing fed into the superior chemistry of Television, the New York band he co-founded in late 1973, Richard Lloyd’s life has been anything but ordinary. An intense character prone to out-of-body experiences as a child, he was already snorting heroin by the time he got to junior high, followed by a series of manic episodes that saw him yo-yo between mental institutions as a teenager (he was later diagnosed as bipolar). Before we even get to Television, he’s giving hash to Robert Plant, jamming with John Lee Hooker, getting punched by Hendrix and turning tricks as a male prostitute.

Lloyd’s prose is often a little clumsy, but the tales are spectacular. Tom Verlaine is portrayed as an arrogant control freak as Television gain traction, although Lloyd (by then an alcoholic and “full-fledged junkie”) is beyond caring. Cue near-death experiences, rehabilitation and a singular road to spiritual enlightenment.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.