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‘Rock Stars Stole His Life!’ October 3, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Reading the book ‘Rock Stars Stole My Life!’ by Mark Ellen who you will, no doubt,remember from Smash Hits, the Old Grey Whistle Test, NME and so on. It’s a good read, indeed in some ways it’s a great read with a genuinely different view of the music magazine’s in particular. I do take the point as made in comments on Amazon (I use it for the reviews, not for purchasing), that there’s a hint of Ellen being the kind of guy who walks into a pub and asks “a flagon of your finest ale, landlord” but, it’s pleasantly self-deprecating.

Interestingly Ellen played in the now infamous Ugly Rumours with one T. Blair, and let’s just say he provides a picture of the man which jibes neatly with later events. The account of life in the music mags – particularly Smash Hits, and the BBC is fascinating, as is the sideways look at John Peel – particularly how he had to sub for him for two weeks when the great man was on holiday (supposedly), but oddly turned up the first night to see how things were going – there’s also an entertaining dissection of Peel’s accent across the decades. Live Aid, well yes. And Q Magazine, and Select. And Word magazine after corporate culture went in – and his description of what that meant in reality (and it’s something I saw in London myself in another magazine group the early 1990s). It’s all in there.

Then there’s excoriating stuff, really no holds barred against certain people. Some Radio One DJs in particular. I’ll say no more, but a joy awaits for those as are interested.

On a completely unrelated subject those who read a certain chapter will certainly never look at this interview from the Whistle Test in quite the same way again.

But, close to the start there’s this point, which has been made before, but I think he nails it.

Part of the reason music was so precious wa that you very rarely got to hear any. It never played in shops or public places, only in pubs and cafés with a jukebox. You had to be at home with a turntable, or sitting by a radio all day hoping for a particular song.

And while he is writing about the late 60s and early 70s much the same was true in the late 70s and early 80s. And now? It’s everywhere. And perhaps consequently nowhere.

Ellen’s love of music is utterly genuine. All music, admittedly, or almost all. And it shines through. Actually for a certain audience it’s a fantastic read.


1. oglach - October 3, 2015

It’s not my birthday, but this is one of the greatest presents I’ve ever gotten. Thank you so much.


WorldbyStorm - October 3, 2015

The Page Harper stuff is gas. Do read it, I think you’d enjoy it. There’s a few things that really get to the heart of matters not least the last chapter or two which offer a scarifying picture of the current music industry and just how it is an industry. My instinct when I first saw it. – I got it in the library – was not to borrow it but I’m very glad I did.

There’s another few quotes I’ll write a post around during the week, Ellen makes some very pointed observations about corporate culture.

Liked by 1 person

oglach - October 3, 2015

What I saw was fantastic, and I will read the rest; you made my day!

Liked by 1 person

2. oglach - October 3, 2015

Reblogged this on Na trioblóidí and commented:
Whole lotta love.


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