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Review of Rocky Taylor's autobiography Jump Rocky Jump

By: Brian Smith
Jump Rocky Taylor Jump book review
Stunt performers are the people in movies we’re not supposed to notice. They are edited in, sometimes for the briefest of seconds, to create the illusion that a film actor is doing the really dangerous action. In 1985, Rocky Taylor unwittingly entered the public consciousness due to a stunt going wrong, through no fault of his own – the moment captured in Mark Witherspoon’s stunning cover design. I remember watching the ITN news in 1985 which reported his accident on the set of Michael Winner’s Death Wish 3. Now Rocky, in the safest of hands with his co-author and stunt expert Jon Auty, tells the story of his career as a stuntman to the stars and what really happened on that fateful day.

This is not a run-of-the-mill autobiography. Rocky dispenses with the linear approach and instead, as befits his occupation, jumps right in. He relates (in the amusingly titled chapter ‘How I Fell Into It’) how, as a young man working as a clapper loader at British Films in Shaftesbury Avenue, he was contacted by stuntman Peter Diamond. Diamond knew that Rocky was a black belt in judo, and he asked if Rocky, then known as Laurie Taylor, would assist getting the young singer Cliff Richard up to speed on a fight arrangement for the film The Young Ones. Later, when the man due to film with Richard became unavailable, Rocky was asked if he would step in. Once in every lifetime comes a job like this – and Rocky took the opportunity afforded him. Diamond asked him onto his next picture and before long he was regularly doubling Patrick Macnee as Steed in The Avengers.

Over the years his job would see him doubling the likes of Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Harrison Ford, to name but a few, in a career that boasts over 150 stunt credits, including 12 James Bond films.

Despite starting in the early Sixties, Rocky is not stuck in the past. He has embraced and adapted to new working practices, such as wire work and the use of CGI to make stunt performing a safer occupation. No wonder then, that at the age of 73, the world’s oldest working stuntman is still in demand. He recently completed work on the new Marvel movie Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Rocky Taylor on the Good Morning Britain show earlier this year

The book is illustrated with photographs from Rocky’s personal collection, including his certificate from Guinness World Records for being the ‘First stunt actor to double for two James Bonds in one year’ – Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again and Roger Moore in Octopussy in 1983.

Rocky Taylor Guinness World Records stuntman

Early in the book Rocky tells the harrowing story of his Death Wish 3 accident. In addition, Rocky provides the report from St Thomas’ Hospital and a first-hand account of the incident from fellow stunt performer Gareth Milne. It is a dark chapter in Rocky’s career but placing it early in the book allows the rest of the book to become a wonderful collection of stunt stories and reminiscences of the people he has worked with, and become friends with, across all areas of show business. Rocky’s style is conversational and his warm, generous and humorous character shines through every story.

Review by Brian James Smith. Copyright © 2019 From Sweden with Love. All rights reserved.

>Order the book from Amazon UK (published in the UK on 18th April, 2019)



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