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She’s a Rainbow. The extraordinary Life of Anita Pallenberg by Simon Wells. Pub. Omnibus press, 2020.

January 12, 2021 Comments off

I have read many biographies of rock “n Roll stars and actors and most scratch the surface of their lives and give you little else, but this one on Anita Pallenberg ,I think got to the core of what she was like. It is both uplifting and tragic and ultimately the story of a woman who changed the world.

She was stunningly beautiful, with long legs, blond hair and a sexy European voice who dazzled when she walked into a room. She was well educated and well read spoke French, German Italian and English and was forthright in her opinions and ambitions. Her fashion sense was second to none and her Bohemian style dominated the fashions of swinging London and helped make London the centre of the modern cultural world. She was an actress a fashion model, a designer and she turned the Rolling Stones from “a band of suburban scruffs into a new breed of dandified lions”.

She first hit the scene as the girl friend of Brian Jones and their confrontational relationship is detailed in this book. The famous incident in Morocco in which Keith Richards rescued her from Brian Jones is told from many angles but the one sure thing is that Brian Jones never recovered from the split.

Life with Richards and the Stones is detailed from many sources but the truth of it is that it was based on drug taking on a huge scale. How she and Richards survived is beyond me but read it and see for yourself.

A highlight of the book for me is the chapter on the making of the film Performance, a cult film which after 50 years has still not recovered the costs of making it. Asked what her contribution to the film was Anita said “the sex”. She was right of course, it is the only reason a watched the film which I found awful. It did however have a powerful effect on all those that were in the film or associated with the making and promotion of the film. The biggest question posed of course was “did Anta and Mick Jagger do the wild thing?”. When Mick was asked he said the suggestion was too delicious to deny.

The tragedy of Anita’s life was of course drugs. She was addicted for much of her life and they stole the humanity from her. When 17 year old Scott Cantrell shot himself in her house Anita when asked about it said “I didn’t feel anything. That’s one of the wonders of drugs and drink”

One of the best overviews of life in the rock’n roll, fashion and film making world of the 1960’s and 70’s that I have read. If you miss this one you will kick yourself.

Chronicles Vol. 1 an Autobiography of Bob Dylan

December 31, 2017 Comments off

DylanChronicles Vol. 1 an Autobiography of Bob Dylan. Pub. Pocket Books, 2004.

Bob Dylan has always been one of my musical heroes and when given this title for Xmas by my son I read it avidly finishing in one day. I was searching for something about the man that would unlock all the secrets and speculation about him and the songs that he wrote. It doesn’t do this but it does present an artistic mind and how it works and it outlines the influences that made Dylan the genius that he is.

When asked early in his career by the poet Archibald McLeish who his boyhood heroes were Dylan answered Robin Hood and St George the dragonslayer. Figure that out.

Dylan never saw himself as a mouthpiece or conscience of a generation which the press and others were determined to tag him with. All he did he says was to sing songs that were dead straight and expressed powerful realities.

A remarkable quality of Dylan that comes out is his dedication as a father and family man. He did everything to keep them out of the vagaries of his life as he struggled with the complexities of fame. When the Kennedys, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were shot he didn’t see them as leaders rather as fathers whose families had been left wounded.

While he does talk of the influences of Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Jack Kerouac and others in  his life as a young artist working in 60,s New York the best titbit he gives about himself is this  “be true to yourself because that is what I am all about”.

Not the autobiography I wanted but hell it is compelling reading.

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No One Here Gets out Alive by Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugerman

December 31, 2016 Comments off

jim-morrisonNo One Here Gets out Alive by Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugerman. Pub. Plexus Publishing, 1980.

A journalist once wrote “the Beatles and the Stones are for blowing your mind: the Doors are for afterwards, when your mind is already gone“. This biography comes under the same category.

I loved the Doors music and the image of Jim Morrison as it was revealed to us then, but I really didn’t know the truth about him and I guess most of it has gone to the grave. I visited his grave at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris in 2004. It was hard to find and a bit of a let down, but I hummed Riders on the Storm to myself and wondered.

This book pulls no punches and much if it is based on anecdotal stories from his friends, his women and from his younger brother. Surprisingly nothing from Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger or John Densmore his fellow Doors.

The story however is gripping and riveting and is told in three parts with image of a bow being draw, the arrow flying and dropping to the ground. A full discology of the Doors songs, when they were played, how they were recorded and Morrison’s behaviour throughout.

All the major events at concerts including his arrest for lewd behaviour are recounted and the drugs and booze extravagances that Morrison put himself through. The best part for me is the analysis of the songs that evolved from his poetry and the extraordinary imagery  that Morrison gave to his writing. The title is a line from the anti war song Unknown Soldier. Morrison wanted to be taken seriously but his destructive behaviour prevented him being bigger and better than he was.

In the end Jim Morrison was a poet but lived a rock star life. It destroyed him. Read for yourself. He was the third member of the 27 club after Hendrix and Joplin. He knew them both.His death was controversial but if anybody could have faked it, it was Jim Morrison.