Max Décharné

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Max Décharné
Max Décharné outside CBGB New York.jpg
Background information
Birth nameMaxim Décharné
GenresGarage punk
indie rock
swamp rock
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter, journalist, author (non-fiction and short stories)
InstrumentsVocals, organ, piano, drums
Years active1985–to date
LabelsAce Records/
Big Beat Records(current)
Camden Town Records
Vinyl Japan
US – Alternative Tentacles
Sire Records
Associated actsThe Flaming Stars
The Earls of Suave
Gallon Drunk
Nikki Sudden
WebsiteMax Décharné's Myspace Page

Max Décharné is an English rock'n'roll musician and singer, and the author of nine books, mostly non-fiction, and numerous short stories.

Music and writing[edit]

He has written about music regularly for Mojo magazine since 1998[1], prior to which he wrote extensively about film for Neon. His work has also appeared in the Spectator[2], the Sunday Times Colour Magazine, the Observer[3], the Guardian[4] and the TLS, among others. He has interviewed a wide variety of cultural figures, including Mary Quant, Nick Cave, Christopher Lee, Wanda Jackson, Mick Farren, Colin Wilson, The Trashmen, Ingrid Pitt, Dion DiMucci, John Peel, Cynthia Plastercaster, Sonny Burgess, Wreckless Eric and Dick Dale. He has also written sleeve notes for numerous record reissues of box sets, albums and singles by artists such as Gene Vincent, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard and Sparkle Moore, and also the acclaimed 6-CD Nikki Sudden box set The Boy From Nowhere Who Fell Out Of The Sky[5].

Décharné started writing short stories in 1985 and, in 1986, inspired by the postpunk DIY ethic, Max founded the Malice Aforethought Press with Frank Key[6]. Over the next few years they published a large number of short-run pamphlets. Titles by Max included "The Importance of Being Harnessed" and "The Night They Invented Shampoo". Most of these texts were later collected in paperback. Max also appeared as a guest on Frank Key's weekly Resonance FM Radio show Hooting Yard on the Air in which the former publishing partners discussed their love of unusual literature[7].

In his musical career, Max has released eleven albums and something in the region of twenty singles since 1989. He played drums with his friend Nikki Sudden before joining Gallon Drunk in 1991, with whom he toured the world. Since 1994, he has been the singer and principal songwriter with The Flaming Stars[8]. In a long and varied career in the music business, he has also recorded nine John Peel Sessions[9] and played shows all across the USA, Canada, virtually every country in Europe and also in Japan[10]. One of his songs made the 1995 John Peel Festive Fifty (Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye by The Flaming Stars), then two more of his songs were in the 1996 John Peel Festive Fifty (Ten Feet Tall and The Face On The Bar Room Floor, both by The Flaming Stars)[11].

He is probably one of the only people currently writing about music to have played on BBCTV’s Later... with Jools Holland show[12], on the main stage at the Reading Festival[13], at Madison Square Garden and at the Hollywood Bowl[14].



  • Vulgar Tongues: An Alternative History of English Slang, Serpent's Tail, 2016 (ISBN 978 1 84668 561 3)
  • Capital Crimes: Seven Centuries of London Life and Murder, Random House Books, 2012 (Arrow Books 2013) (ISBN 978 0 099539 025)
  • Rocket In My Pocket, Serpent's Tail, 2010 (ISBN 978 1 84668 721 1) NB Ace Records (United Kingdom) issued a compilation CD[15] with sleeve notes by Max to tie in with this book.
  • King's Road: The Rise And Fall of the Hippest Street in the World, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005 (ISBN 0 297 84769 4)
  • Hardboiled Hollywood – The Origins of the Great Crime Films, No Exit Press, 2003 (ISBN 1 84243 070 X)
  • Straight From the Fridge, Dad: A Dictionary of Hipster Slang, No Exit Press, 2000 (2nd edition in 2004, 3rd edition in 2009) (ISBN 978-1-84243-288-4)
  • I Was A Teenage Warehouse & Other Stories, Thirst Editions, 1997 (ISBN 0 9531238 0 4)
  • The Prisoner Of Brenda & Other Stories, Malice Aforethought Press, 1991 (ISBN 1 871197 92 9)
  • Beat Your Relatives To A Bloody Pulp & Other Stories, Malice Aforethought Press, 1989 (ISBN 1 871197 93 7)

Selected Reviews of his Books[edit]

  • Vulgar Tongues – An Alternative History Of English Slang, Serpent’s Tail, 2016
    • “Max Décharné's engaging book Vulgar Tongues is a spectacular feat, collating information from a mind-boggling range of sources - from jazz lyrics to dime novels, from 18th century brothel directories to 1960s criminal autobiographies.” - Lynne Truss, New Statesman[16]
  • A Rocket In My Pocket – Serpent’s Tail, 2010
    • “The definitive book on rockabilly.. tells you all you need to know.” - Andrew Weatherall, BBC 6 Music
  • King’s Road – The Rise And Fall Of The Hippest Street In The World, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005
    • “As a trawl through the glitz and glamour of the King’s Road, this is hard to beat. Décharné’s research, which takes in everything from political weeklies to underground pop magazines, is impressive and unimpeachable, and he whisks the reader along in brisk and witty prose.” - Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times[17]
  • Hardboiled Hollywood – No Exit Press, 2003
    • “Full of "unauthorised cash withdrawals" and people dying of "lead poisoning", this tome thankfully eschews the pompous subtext and strained metaphors of most film books, leaving what any good detective wants: just the facts, ma'am.” - Phelim O’Neill, The Guardian
  • Straight From The Fridge, Dad – No Exit Press, 2000
    • “If you are the kind of hep cat who harbours a burning urge to gas the slobs, then the righteous Max is the man. He shoots the works to fascinating and often hilarious effect.” - Esquire

Malice Aforethought Press Booklets[edit]

  • The Petrified Florist, pamphlet, Malice Aforethought Press, 14th February 1991 (ISBN 1 871197 76 7)
  • The Little Sheep of Horrors, pamphlet, Malice Aforethought Press, 30th September 1990 (ISBN 1 871197 49 X)
  • Slogans for the Unhinged, limited edition pamphlet of 50 copies, Malice Aforethought Press, 29th September 1990 (ISBN 1 871197 97 X)
  • UFO's - Who Gives a Flying One?, limited edition pamphlet of 50 copies, Malice Aforethought Press, 3rd August 1990 (ISBN 1 871197 01 5)
  • Epigrams, limited edition pamphlet of 50 copies, Malice Aforethought Press, 3rd August 1990 (ISBN 1 871197 03 1)
  • The Sheep of Things to Come, limited edition pamphlet of 47 copies, Malice Aforethought Press, 3rd February 1990 (ISBN 1 871197 33 3)
  • Hello Jung Lovers, Wherever You Are, limited edition pamphlet of 27 copies (hand-singed by the author), Malice Aforethought Press, 3rd April 1989 (ISBN 1 871197 55 4)
  • Beat Your Relatives To A Bloody Pulp, limited edition pamphlet (some on tea-stained paper), Malice Aforethought Press, 1988 (ISBN 1 871197 59 7)
  • The Night They Invented Shampoo, limited edition pamphlet of 35 copies, Malice Aforethought Press, 1988 (re-issued in July 1990) (ISBN 1 871197 77 5)
  • The Importance of Being Harnessed, limited edition pamphlet of 25 copies, Malice Aforethought Press, February 1987 (ISBN 1 871197 20 1)
  • Smooching with Istvan, (with Frank Key) - limited edition journal of 100 copies, with hand-painted covers, Malice Aforethought Press, Spring 1987 (ISBN 1 871197 10 4)
  • Stab Your Employer, (with Frank Key) - limited edition journal of 50 copies, Malice Aforethought Press, Autumn 1986

Stories by Max in various anthologies[edit]

  • Midget Submarines in the collection Bullman, Janine, ed., Punk Fiction - An Anthology of Stories Inspired By Punk, Portico, 2009. (ISBN 9781906032661)
  • Chelsea Three, Scotland Yard Nil in the collection Unsworth, Cathi, ed., London Noir, Serpent’s Tail, 2006. (ISBN 101852429305)
  • The occasional magazine Massacre, compiled by Roberta McKeown, contained several stories by Max - namely I Was a Teenage Warehouse (Massacre 1, 1990), The Black Shape of the Family (Massacre 2, 1991) and Dining Out in Paris and London (Massacre 3, 1992)


The Flaming Stars[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Singles / EPs[edit]

  • Stranger on the Fifth Floor / New Hope for the Dead (live in Germany) (Vinyl Japan 2005)
  • Spilled Your Pint / Sixty Nine (Vinyl Japan, Bang! Records, 2004)
  • A Little Bit Like You / The Man Who Would be B.B. King (Vinyl Japan, September 2002)
  • One Lonely Night / Days Like This (Alternative Tentacles, September 2001)
  • You Don't Always Want What You Get / Saturday Night Special (Vinyl Japan, January 2001)
  • Only Tonight (Vinyl Japan, November 1999)
  • Sweet Smell of Success / The Day The Earth Caught Fire / Never Missed You Tonight / A Place in the Sun (Vinyl Japan, April 1998)
  • New Hope for the Dead / Are You Being Served (Vinyl Japan, October 1997)
  • Bury My Heart at Pier 13 / Down to You (live in London) (Vinyl Japan, March 1997)
  • Ten Feet Tall / Spaghetti Junction (Vinyl Japan, December 1996)
  • Downhill Without Brakes / Broken Heart / Eat Your Heart Out / Burnt Out Wreck of a Man (Vinyl Japan, May 1996)
  • Money To Burn / Bandit Country / A Hell of a Woman / New Shade of Black (Vinyl Japan, December 1995)
  • The Face on the Bar Room Floor / Get Carter (Vinyl Japan, August 1995)
  • "Hospital, Heaven or Hell" (tracks "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye / Davy Jones' Locker / Like Trash / Revenge" – Vinyl Japan, March 1995)

Other albums[edit]

Tracks on other compilations[edit]

  • A Hell of a Woman appeared on "Plan Boom" (What's That Noise, 1998)
  • Like Trash appeared on "What Did You Come Down Here For? Music from Club Zitt" (Genki, 1996)
  • Back of My Mind appeared on "Cowpunks" (Vinyl Junkie, 1996)
  • Bring Me the Rest of Alfredo Garcia appeared on the 'CD magazine' "Volume 15" (Volume, 1995)
  • The Face on the Bar Room Floor appeared on "Various Artists do the Nuclear Tests in Paris and Beijing" (Vinyl Japan, 1995) NB The Earls of Suave track "A Cheat" also appears on the same CD. The Earls featured many of The Flaming Stars.

Holly Golightly[edit]


  • Sand / Lonesome Town (Box Theory Records, 1996) – Max sings uncredited duet with Holly on Sand (this version of the track appears also on Holly's compilation Singles Round Up - Damaged Goods, 2001). Holly returned the favour with the duet on the title track of the Flaming Stars album Born Under a Bad Neon Sign.

The Earls of Suave[edit]

Studio Albums[edit]

  • The Basement Bar at the Heartbreak Hotel (Vinyl Japan, 1994)

10 inch Compilation LP[edit]

  • THE KING AND I - PURR Magazine 10 inch compilation, Blueyedog Records, 1994. The Earls of Suave appear on this with the song Yabba Dabba Doo.


  • In My Dreams / Somebody Buy Me a Drink (Vinyl Japan, 1994)
  • A Cheat / Who Will the Next Fool Be? (Camden Town Records, 1992)

Gallon Drunk[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

10 inch LP[edit]

  • Clawfist: The Peel Sessions - the Gallon Drunk Peel session, plus one by the band Breed (Strange Fruit, 1992). Gallon Drunk tracks: Ruby / Some Fool’s Mess / Drag ’91 / Two Wings Mambo.


  • Live At Madison Square Garden Promo – Just One More / Some Fool’s Mess / Two Wings Mambo (Clawfist, 1993)
  • Bedlam / Look at That Woman / Solitaire (Clawfist, 1992)
  • Some Fool’s Mess / May the Earth Open Here / Rolling Home (Clawfist, 1991)

Nikki Sudden[edit]

Studio Albums[edit]

  • Egyptian Roads, Indies Records, 1997
  • Seven Lives Later, Glitterhouse, 1996


  • The Boy From Nowhere Who Fell Out Of The Sky, Easy Action, 2013. Max is on various tracks, three previously unreleased
  • The Point & The Rays, Barracuda Blue, 1991 – A Marc Bolan tribute compilation, including Nikki’s version of Bolan’s Buick Mackane, recorded live in Germany in 1990



  • Pervirella, Alex Chandon, 1997 - Max plays the part of the Curator
  • One For The Ladies - Gallon Drunk live video, which contains a complete show filmed on December 21, 1991 in London. Released on VHS in 1992 on the Jettisoundz label, and then on DVD in 2005 on Cherry Red[19].
  • Grand Union: A Short Film - Frank Tovey - shot in 1991 and released in 2006 as part of the Fad Gadget by Frank Tovey CD/DVD package (Mute Records). Max was producer and principal cameraman[20].

Soundtrack Contributions[edit]

  • Crust - Mark Locke, 2001[21] - includes Max’s song 3.a.m. On The Bar Room Floor by The Flaming Stars
  • The Jolly Boys Last Stand - Christopher Payne, 2000[22] - includes Max’s songs Like Trash and The Face On The Bar Room Floor by The Flaming Stars
  • Dust Devil - Richard Stanley, 1992 - includes the song which Max co-wrote, You Can Call by the Earls Of Suave


  1. ^ "Serpent's Tail – Max Décharné author profile".
  2. ^ "The Spectator – author Max Décharné".
  3. ^ Décharné, Max (23 October 2016). "Slang: the changing face of cool". The Observer.
  4. ^ Décharné, Max (28 December 2016). "Top 10 slangy crime novels". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "Easy Action records – The Boy From Nowhere Who Fell Out Of The Sky".
  6. ^ Langford, David. "The Mysteries of Frank Key". The New York Review of SF.
  7. ^ "Hooting Yard on the Air". 28 September 2005.
  8. ^ Sendra, Tim. "Allmusic review of London After Midnight by The Flaming Stars".
  9. ^ "Wikipedia – List of Peel Sessions (Flaming Stars and Gallon Drunk)".
  10. ^ "Alternative Tentacles label – Flaming Stars biography".
  11. ^ Wall, Mick (2004). John Peel. Orion. ISBN 0-75287-212-5.
  12. ^ "Wikipedia – List of Later... with Jools Holland episodes Series 2".
  13. ^ "Reading Festival website – 1993 lineup".
  14. ^ "Morrissey Your Arsenal Tour List".
  15. ^ "Ace Records - A Rocket In My Pocket: The Soundtrack".
  16. ^ Truss, Lynne (30 December 2016). "Take a butcher's at this: a new history of slang". New Statesman.
  17. ^ Sandbrook, Dominic (13 November 2005). "Society: The Rise and Fall of the Hippest Street in the World by Max Décharné". Sunday Times.
  18. ^ Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Canongate. ISBN 0-86241-913-1.
  19. ^ "Allmusic review of Gallon Drunk video One for the Ladies".
  20. ^ "IMDb page for Frank Tovey's Grand Union".
  21. ^ "BFI page for Mark Locke's Crust".
  22. ^ "IMDb page for Christopher Payne's The Jolly Boys Last Stand".

External links[edit]