Exit Stage Left: The curious afterlife of pop stars

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Exit Stage Left: The curious afterlife of pop stars

Exit Stage Left: The curious afterlife of pop stars

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Which would be really incisive if only I Don't Belong Here hadn't been on the same 1994 debut album as I Can't Imagine The World Without Me. It's a great read for anybody middle-aged, frankly: anyone who has had a crack at something; succeeded; then lost; then found another way to succeed. The story goes that The Human League’s Phil Oakey smashed the phone to pieces immediately after hearing from his manager that ‘Don’t You Want Me’ had gone to number one in America. Seaton, though, started his working life as the 15-year-old singer of Birmingham’s Musical Youth: with their enduring hit Pass The Dutchie, the closest this country had to the Jackson 5 circa 1982. Maybe it was a natural reaction in those competitive, cut-throat pop years of the early 1980s, but little did he know that that song would probably come in very handy over the years and pay for kids’ school fees, parents’ homes, tax bills, etc etc.

The obsession with the new obviously leaves so many on dust heaps of various shapes and sizes, and this is their story.It could be argued this is a good thing as I think we're unlikely to get so many one hit wonders and curios as we had before. But for all that I could easily have worn out a red pen on this crap, the one thing you can say for Duerden's style is that it's clear and quick to read, and the key question here is interesting: what do pop stars do once fame moves on? By bidding on, or purchasing this item, you are agreeing to us sharing your name and address details with that 3rd party supplier to allow us to fulfil our contractual obligations to you. Anybody who has followed a pop musician's career will appreciate the alarm and horror of the protagonists as the adulation fades - but most of the musicians are wiser for it. Seaton luckily escaped unscathed and what he did next is just one of many fascinating stories told herein.

We know all about them when they’re at the top of their game, of course, but they tend to reveal far more of their true selves once they’ve peaked, and are on their way down. Most of these musicians seem to be British centric and from genres I'm not interested in like punk/alternative. I'd recommend not skipping the sections about musicians you aren't familiar with - these are all unique stories of how the human psyche copes with loss. I was completely charmed by lovely Natalie Merchant, who, unlike almost every other musician featured, realised she'd made a life changing amount of money, and quietly set about changing the lives of others, working unpaid with disadvantaged children.This is a candid, laugh-out-loud and occasionally shocking look at what happens when the brightest stars fall back down to earth. Addiction plays a major role in this book, and I think the biggest addiction is to acceptance from well everyone.

I work in the music industry and found this a fascinating read, making me look at new music through a different lens. Suzanne Vega relates the shame of having to ‘downsize’ her band and crew mid-tour when audiences failed to fill large enues and The Boo Radleys’ Martin Carr discusses saying no to licensing requests for ‘Wake Up Boo’, trying to hold onto his punk credentials, but then ‘teaching himself to say yes’.Many still feel the need to create and do so for themselves, while many have found themselves burnt out by their experiences and seek enlightenment elsewhere while others still find themselves back to the 9-to-grind life and find their purpose in other avenues. At times, the book does feel repetitive, but this only adds to the fact that for all the riches some have attained they have been put through punishing schedules and mental fatigue to earn it. But what’s it like to actually achieve it, and what’s it like when fame abruptly passes, and shifts, as it does, onto someone else? There are many cautionary tales here, from survivors of the pop machine to bands that were put together by a group of mates who wanted to escape from school, and the narrow confines from what was expected of them in adult life. The quibble I had with “Exit Stage Left” was that while it would have made a superb long-form article in a monthly music magazine (if such formats still existed in today’s publishing world), when the concept is stretched out to book length it can be repetitive and tautological.

The starts interviewed for the book range from Robbie Williams, who has a career that is still thriving, but as a member of Take That is more than qualified to talk about life in the pop bubble.

These include Wendy James, Robbie Williams, Bob Geldof, Shaun Ryder, Robbie Williams, Roisin Murphy, Stewart Copeland, Billy Bragg, Alex Kapranos, Joan Armatrading, Leo Sayer, Gary Lightbody, Lisa Maffia, Tim Booth, Bill Drummond, Rufus Wainwright, David Gray, Lloyd Cole and Justin Hawkins. That kind of resurgence speaks to the legacy that musicians leave, even when they are no longer in the spotlight. We live in a culture obsessed by the notion of fame - the heedless pursuit of it; the almost obligatory subsequent fallout.

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