Tuesday, 3 June 2014

show business disease

There's been some recent national press manufactured outrage over a couple of members of a well known boy band having a puff in the back of a taxi in a country they probably had no idea of, let alone which day of the week it was.
(It's irrelevant which boy band or pop group (1D) as it could have been any of them at any time over the years,)
As an army of dejected girlie fans were egged on with the mock finger wagging of the press about "how they'd let everyone down" and "their fans deserved better" within a day or two the whole lot is forgotten and the "boys" having payed due pennance by way of worldwide apologies go back to living good wholesome lives. Until the next time that is. And the next.. and the next, until.. well, we all know how that usually ends up.

Then it just so happens a recent blog post makes a link to what appears to be the backwater of a sort of visually clunky old 90's style website where there is an extract of book that the late Richie Havens wrote in 1999. These extracts from the chapter called "Show Business Disease" make for compelling reading from a man who knew and saw the rise and fall of some of the greatest artists and musicians of the 20th Century.
This magnificent tome of Haven's should be mandatory reading for any pop group. Here are some extracts from the Extract, as it were.

    "Once a performer enters the public arena, he begins to face choices that have nothing to do with his art. "Trying" to become famous or rich - or both - is not what I was about, not when I started, not now..."

    "..you might even have to do your music the way that the record company wanted, not the way you wanted. In other words, a deal meant that you were going to face choices you never would make on your own and in those days the record company owned your publishing rights as part of the deal...if your manager didn't already."

    "And there is another, equally important side to the issue of fame. The side that any famous people complain about the most. The loss of privacy, which I believe is at least partially self-inflicted."

    "Janis Joplin was so lonely on the road that she drank and used drugs to excess. What a voice! What a soulful moan, what a longing for love. What a tragedy. The minute she was made to give up her adopted family-Big Brother And The Holding Company-and had to work with the band that Albert Grossman put together, Janis felt lost. She died of a broken heart caused by the business. Leaving her band behind left her with a hole in her heart and haunting, insecure thoughts."

    "Jim Morrison was another who died of "Show Business Disease". Here was a guy who wanted most of all to be a writer. He rebelled at every turn against being trapped into the mold of a rock 'n' roller to be groped and gawked at. Yet, at many of his concerts, Morrison literally through himself into the crowd; let people maul and mishandle him; cursed wildly at the authorities; whipped the people around him into a blind frenzy as if he was totally unconscious of his power. At times, he was. Bombed out of his brain. In complete escape from the world that wouldn't let him be himself. In the end, Jim seemed that close to finding a private space in France, where he was being encouraged to write poetry, to draw, but it was half-past the hour of his reckoning. As I said, all Morrison ever wanted was to be a serious writer, a poet, a filmmaker. He died lonely and confused, with too many drugs in his system."

    "Jimi Hendrix?...
    A few years later-after Woodstock, in fact, at the Isle of Wight Festival in the British Isles in late August 1970-I saw Jimi Hendrix again. He was now a huge success, recognized for his genious, praised universally as "the best guitarist in the world". But, he was terribly unhappy, extremely depressed, and he asked for my help. "I'm having a real bad time with my managers and lawyers", Jimi said. "They're killing me; everything is wired against me and it's getting so bad I can't eat or sleep...You've been doing this longer than me, man, I need to talk to a lawyer, man. You must know somebody." I told him that I have a very good lawyer that he should talk to-Johanan Vigoda-a legend in the music world and a man who was going to play an important role in my recording career. I told Jimi that I would be glad to introduce him and that I would be in London for four days after the festival and would be going directly back to New York. I told him to come by and see me when he left the Isle of Wight. Jimi never showed up.
    The next thing I heard about him was some three weeks later. He was found dead, a drug overdose. Another great, great talent trying desperately to do his thing, a truly unique human being who found the pressures and competing influences around him too much to bear. The truth is, he didn't actually die from an overdose of addictive drugs as was first reported in typical scandalous fashion by the press. He died from being up for days at the festival, drinking a lot of beer and not being able to sleep. He took sleeping pills, threw up in his sleep, and choked to death.
    Another victim of Show Business Disease".

Richie Havens "They Can't Hide Us Anymore" is still available through Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk