I love books giving ‘insider’ views on the music industry. Autobios don’t really do it well as good as they are as people, especially stars, are never going to really compromise themselves while they’re still alive…well, except for that book by Ozzy! What a fucken hoot that was!! But in essence a lot I have read have been good without being anything startling.
But then I read Mick Wall’s Paranoid which not only freaked me right out it set the rules straight on how to tell it ‘like it is’. And this book is just the same, if not as shocking.
Simon Napier-Bell (SNB for short) is a manager in the music industry and has, amongst others managed Wham! and The Yardbirds…for those youngies out there, Wham! were a duo from the 80s responsible for crap music and wanking in toilets, and for those a bit older but still younger than me, The Yardbirds were a shit hot band in the 60s who eventually became Led Zep…without SNB.
This book gives an insight from the 50s through to the end of the millennium the rise and rise of British music and how it evolved over 40-odd years not by fashions, popularity or even demand, but by that staple diet of all rockers, drugs. From the days of jazz into rock n roll, rock, heavy metal, glam, disco, New Romantics, Boy Bands….
Some of what SNB mentions will shock you, some of it will amaze you, but all in all the book will be a great reference for trivia and subject matter about some of music’s biggest stars. Some stories really stand out; Keith Moon and his coprophilia (I had to look it up too), Jimmy Page doing drugs in the toilet with tranvestities, Boy George and his battle with his boyfriend, the money artists were, or in most cases weren’t making due to dodgy deals, the making of Donna Summers and Boney-M…there is a story a minute and all of them are worth reading.
I would recommend this to anyone who likes a bit of gossip, however towards the end the factual analysis of the industry was a bit of a bore, anti-climatic if you will considering the content before it. And remembering this book is about 10 years old that analysis is dated and null and void considering what we know now…