I’m stuck on rock autobiographies.
Alex James’ autobiography A Bit of a Blur is partly to blame. If you’re unfamiliar with Blur, a four piece British band, you might remember their biggest hit from the 2002 World Cup which consisted of three lyrics: “Whoo Hoo, Whoo Hoo, Whoo Hoo.”
Blur dominated the charts during the Britpop era when Tony Blair was fleetingly cool, Princess Diana was still alive and the Gallagher brothers insulted everybody, particularly band members from Blur.
Blur and Oasis competed for chart dominance like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet a decade before them.
Memories of their musical feud made me curious to read the autobiography of 80s heartthrob John Taylor called Into the Pleasure Groove. I quickly followed this with fellow Duran Duran bandmate Andy Taylor’s autobiography Wild Boy. Whether the Duran Duran story was worth one autobiography — let alone two — they were eerily similar to Alex James’ which proves that being in a successful 80s band is the same as being in a successful 90s one.
After finishing both books, I turned to Youtube to watch numerous documentaries on Duran Duran and Blur as well as music videos and Google image searches to see what they all look like now. I then went to Wikipedia and finally to each band’s official website.
After this it was only a small leap to Culture Club, Adam Ant and a bunch of 80s bands that never made it much further than a couple of hits and outrageous hair dye.
Which pretty much summed up Spandua Ballet who were never as popular as Duran Duran and disintegrated over arguments about money because songwriter Gary Kemp became greedy.
Financial squabbles also tore a rift in Duran Duran but Andy Taylor slunk off to Ibizia where he attended numerous parties and concluded he’d rather stay in a disco paradise than fight over a bunch of 80s tunes with keyboardist Nick Rhodes and lead singer Simon Le Bon (thankfully neither of whom have written autobiographies about life in Duran Duran).
In between all these autobiographies, Wikipedia and Youtube videos, I also managed to watch the INXS mini-series Never Tear Us Apart which is about the decline of its lead singer Michael Hutchence. However, since I’ve already written about Hutchence and his unfortunate habit of pissing off taxi drivers, there is no need to refer to him in this post except to mention that he was a close friend of Simon Le Bon, who we know was the front man of Duran Duran and whose aforementioned bandmates wrote autobiographies that were exactly the same as Alex James’. Hutchence, by the way, was also insulted by the Gallagher brothers when they took a momentary break from slagging off Blur.
And Alex James still plays bass with Blur but between gigs makes a line of successful cheeses as one does when rock stardom fades.
Which all somehow led me to read Keith Richards’ autobiography Life because the Rolling Stones were cast as competitors to The Beatles in an ongoing cycle of chart dominance and lurid media stories which would occur for Blur, Oasis, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet many years later.
Surprisingly, Richard’s autobiography, particularly his memories of post war England, was rather poignant. Rationing was still in force during his childhood which meant, unlike Alex James, no opportunity to sample fine cheeses or make Camembert with Blur.
Richards doesn’t mention Hutchence, Blur, Duran Duran or Oasis. However, he does talk a lot about ex-wife Anita Pallenberg who I wrote about in another post about how she helped shape my world view when she played the Great Tyrant in Barbarella.
All these rock celebrities demonstrate that everything is interconnected like a James Joyce stream of consciousness and each generation of successful musicians cycle through the same lives. Initially the band struggles, achieves staggering success, experiences a crisis, endures a downfall and then manages a phoenix-like resurrection.
John Taylor married a fashion designer and settled into being a family man; Andy Taylor is still partying in Ibizia; Keith Richards never really left the 1960s and Alex James created a cheese called The Gallagher Brothers which once unwrapped becomes toxic.
Note: You can read more about the convoluted history of celebrities in Sue Bell’s upcoming book: The celebrity guide to reincarnated history.