In these days of instant pop stars, churned out by television series, charting straight at number 1 with their first single Lost Rockers gives a fascinating insight into the harsh world of the music industry pre-internet where toil, talent and hard graft just weren’t enough to make it big.
Throughout this book you get a sense that it’s often luck or fate that decides who does or doesn’t make it to be the next pop idol or rock god. Moreover, your face has to fit and this seems to be one of the biggest deciding factors, oh and in the case of Chris Robison, whether you’ll sleep with your ‘married’ manager.
Many of the artists featured have had long, undistinguished careers with numerous singles and albums on various labels but no big chart success where as others are just flashes in the pan - right image, right time. Whilst some, still sell out stadiums on vintage tours, others like female drummer Ginger Bianco (Ginger Bianco & The Gingerbreads, ISIS) work in Home Depot.
However, '60s teen star Bobby Jameson is probably the harshest lesson within the whole book. Bad decisions and poor choices of producers and collaborators, including Rolling Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham, at a young age led to him retiring from music in 1985 to tackle a substance abuse problem. Jameson continues to seek royalty payments he is owed whilst conducting an internet spat with Keith Richards regarding their brief but explosive working relationship. He now works as a trailer park handyman, despite a long list of singles and albums including Songs Of Protest And Anti-Protest under the name of Chris Lucey.
Other notable artists featured included Chris Robison, the first openly gay rock star. He featured in bands such as Elephant’s Memory and as a solo artist, performing at the first Stonewall event in New York. Also, Gloria Jones, ex-girlfriend of Marc Bolan, who was at the wheel of the car that killed the T-Rex frontman in 1977. Her most famous single ‘Tainted Love’ still generates royalties but only thanks to Soft Cell’s 1981 electro-pop cover version.
One quote that sums up all the broken careers in this book, and those not worthy of a mention, is “many are called but few are chosen". How true.
(160 pages, Powerhouse Books, ISBN: 978-1576877661)
Lost Rockers : Broken Dreams And Crashed Careers is available from amazon.
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