Robbie Williams: Somebody Someday

Overview

Once in a while a book is produced that captures the energy and spirit of the world of rock. Somebody Someday was published to massive popular and critical acclaim in September 2001, and spent 14 weeks at the top of bestseller lists. It looks at Robbie's professional, family, social and love lives. The insight, honesty and humour combine with quality photographs and design to make this biography a triumph.

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Overview

Once in a while a book is produced that captures the energy and spirit of the world of rock. Somebody Someday was published to massive popular and critical acclaim in September 2001, and spent 14 weeks at the top of bestseller lists. It looks at Robbie's professional, family, social and love lives. The insight, honesty and humour combine with quality photographs and design to make this biography a triumph.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780091884734
  • Publisher: Random House UK
  • Publication date: 11/26/2002
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Read an Excerpt

1.

'If I'm drinking and taking
drugs, I'm the last person
on earth that I'd want my
daughter to go out with.
But hopefully the person
that I will become will
be somebody I'd let my
daughter go out with.'

WE SHALL SEE WHAT HAPPENS

It's well after two o'clock on the second day of rehearsals and everyone's waiting for Rob. At one end of the vast, concrete-floored oval that is the Docklands London Arena, the set is up: the rows of lights, the stacks of speakers, the white cyclorama, the drapes, the black front curtain, all miraculously suspended from the criss-crossed girders in the roof high above. On the stage itself the instruments are laid out and ready: the drums central on their platform, `the groups of keyboards to left and right, the guitars in racks beyond. On the fringes a mighty confusion of wires and plugs connect to a mass of chunky black cabinets and monitors. Smoke drifts across from two stage-side smoke machines and hangs thinly in the air, giving substance to the beams of the continually changing coloured lights in the half-darkness.

The seven members of the band have arrived, greeted each other and various black T-shirted members of the crew with elaborate hugs, wandered backstage to catering for coffee or lunch and eventually taken their places on the set. Curly-haired Guy Chambers, Rob's songwriting collaborator and the band's musical director, has settled down behind his keyboard stack and started the rehearsal. 'Is everyone ready?' he asks. Languid black bass guitarist Yolanda Charles unties her hair and they swing into it. But still the tall central microphone waits redundant on its stand, as it didthroughout the long day of studio rehearsals yesterday.

Suddenly there's a cry away to the right. 'Robbie! 'It is the star himself, at last, striding through the gloom in a posse of three or four, his dark-bobbed personal assistant Josie Cliff keeping in step beside him. It's quite chilly, this early February day, and he' swrapped up: in thick coat, grey woolly hat, dark glasses, a scarf wrapped tight round his neck. As he marches straight to the centre of the stage, a shiver of excitement comes over the band.

'Hello, hello, hello. Nice to see everyone,' he says, nodding round, smiling, smoking as he talks. 'What's with the hair, Gary?' he asks the pudding-bowled, sideburned guitarist on the left.

'Wish I could say it was me own,' Gary Nuttall replies, with a sheepish grin.

Rob moves now to kiss Yolanda, who smiles hugely as she embraces him. He hugs Fil Eisler, the other guitarist, tall, lean and slightly scary in a fur-collared trenchcoat, shakes hands with Guy, thenwaves at keyboard player Claire Worrall and drummer Chris Sharrock. He blows kisses to his two backing singers, Tessa Niles and Katie Kissoon. He'sstill smoking, with stylish casualness; his walk is not so much a swagger, but more the confident stride of a man surveying his domain.

'Shall we do "Wimmin"?' asks Guy, up at his key-boardset, keeping things gently moving along.'D'you want to do "Wimmin", Rob?'

'Let's do "Wimmin",' Rob replies. 'I'm sick of blokes.'

There's a ripple of laughter across the band, crew and other hangers-on who fringe the brightly lit stage area.

As the band launch into Rob's new song, the energy is completely different. With Rob there, holding that microphone, his voice at the centre of the music, everything suddenly coheres. 'Even before he sings a note,' says Tessa later, 'his presence is enough to kick-start the thing into hyperspace."Stop!' calls Rob suddenly, halfway through the song. There is silence. 'On the answer lines,' he continues commandingly, 'can they be really shouty and can everyone do 'em.' As the band listens attentively, he demonstrates: 'Nice tits, nice arse, no class or conversation.'

The band try it out, yelling back his chorus. Rob does a little thrust on the final 'Whoa!' and throws his fist up in the air. Then he's gone - off to join the tall figure of tour manager Andy 'Franksy' Franks at the far side of the stage, dressed, as always, in his habitual black. Rob wasn't on stage for long. The band are left electrified by his presence, laughing like kids.

As star follows tour manager through the little door to backstage and catering, MD Guy is quietly back in charge. The band rehearse 'Singing For The Lonely' and 'Perfect Day', but it's all a bit lacklustre again. Behind them, a wiry, bald crew member pumps up one of the two giant inflatable Brit awards that flank the back of the stage. Then, just as the band are flagging badly, Rob has sprung on from nowhere, grabbed the mike, and kicked the act back into life. 'It's such a perfect day,' he growls in a powerful, deliberately non-singing voice. 'I'm glad I spent it with you.'

He's slowly disrobing now. His coat's off (though not the woolly hat and scarf), revealing an untucked cream shirt, criss-crossed with dark lines. Below, his baggy jeans crumple over trainers.
'I'm so sick of people's expectations, leaves me tired all the time...'

Even in this empty stadium, Rob sings with such intense passion, his high forehead furrowed into a frown as he clutches the mike stand with both hands. His voice rings up to where the multicoloured lights flicker across the shadowed spaces of the roof. 'I was watching that Popstars thing on Saturday night,' he tells his ragtag audience during a break a little later. 'And I was thinking, if I auditioned for that now, I wouldn't get it.' There is laughter. 'And then, 'he continues, in a spooky voice, 'I remembered...'

Halfway through 'No Regrets' he breaks off. 'We know all of these,' he says. 'So we don't need to do the rest of them.'
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2004

    Rob or Robbie

    Living in the States I find it next to impossible to get my hands on any legitimate news or information about Robbie Williams. Only recently a fan, I have been fascinated by his on-stage presence and consequently intrigued to discover what might be at its source. 'Somebody Someday' I don't think was ever intended to be a full-fledged biography. It is instead a running commentary by journalist Mark Crum who joined Williams on his European 'Sermon On the Mount' tour from late 2000 thru early 2001. Indeed, it is for all practical purposes the literary companion to the video documentary for those same shows, entitled 'Nobody Someday.' Therefore, although it provides occasional vignettes about Robbie's past as well as those of his crew and managers, it is more often a description of those events which characterized the tour. The book is more reactive than insightful, is immediate and limited, but all that is for the better; there are few if any platitudes and virtually no excuses for what the author witnesses. The narrative also moves quickly and is so true to what occurred that I actually began to feel the rigors of touring. To that end, there are vivid portrayls of just how unglamorous life 'on the road' can be, despite the girls, the glitz and the excitement (including a life-threatening incident in which Williams is thrown off stage at a German concert by a crazed fan). The author occasionally splices in bits from the interviews he has with Robbie, but it is not a book to promote the megastar as much as it is about him in the moment. Given that this time coincided with yet another attempt by Williams to swear off drugs and alcohol, there are no outlandish scenes of destruction or debauchery that were known to characterize other times in his life. If anything, after the author briefly recounts some regrettable incidents in the past, you hear how Robbie is successfully fighting to stay sober. That story, in fact, is one part of an underlying theme that slowly emerges: it is that Robbie is coming of age. By tour's end, he has become less troubled, more grateful for his good fortune, and more enthusiastic about being a performer. He can more easily reconcile Rob, the private person, with Robbie, the musical celebrity. However contrived that transformation may have been, Crum seems to be giving us his honest impressions, and in the end this was an interesting read. For a guy like me who knew virtually nothing about Robbie Williams two months ago, it serves as well as a practical introduction to the pop phenomenon (I had never heard of him or Take That or Rock DJ or -get the picture?). It doesn't answer all the questions, but I recommend it if you want to begin to become familiar with this enigmatic performer from the UK. Having done that, the compelling dilemma about RW is that you'll still feel you've learned nothing at all.

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