Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon

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Overview

The dark moments of rock history fascinate and tantalize like the pathos of Greek tragedy. The bottom sinks lower, the air seems colder, the bad endings - when they are bad - seem beyond bad. The unlucky practitioners of our most thriving form of communal experience seem to hit rock bottom in ways only the most glamorous among us can - publicly. The stories remain obscure, half-seen in the shadowlands. In her familiar style, Pamela Des Barres shines light on the people whose art remains the background music to ...
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Overview

The dark moments of rock history fascinate and tantalize like the pathos of Greek tragedy. The bottom sinks lower, the air seems colder, the bad endings - when they are bad - seem beyond bad. The unlucky practitioners of our most thriving form of communal experience seem to hit rock bottom in ways only the most glamorous among us can - publicly. The stories remain obscure, half-seen in the shadowlands. In her familiar style, Pamela Des Barres shines light on the people whose art remains the background music to our popular culture. Des Barres asks, "What comes first, the addiction or the rock and roll?" The first apparent rock-and-roll death occurred on Christmas Eve 1959, when Johnny Ace blew his head off in a game of Russian Roulette between shows. Buddy Holly's four-seater plane crashes. Marvin Gaye's father shoots his son. Kurt Cobain puts a gun to his head. The headlines tell it all: Rock Singer Faces Manslaughter Charge, James Brown Addicted to PCP, Bassist for Band Hole Found Dead. The messed-up lives, the burned-out golden boys and girls, the violence, the route toward rock bottom - Des Barres has a line on the souls of the public figures who lived desperate private lives to entertain us all.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Loving plunges into 26 abruptly curtailed or epically depraved rock 'n' roll lives.

I'm with the Band (1987) and Take Another Little Piece of My Heart (1992) were Des Barres's commendably trashy memoirs of groupiedom and its aftermath. The salacious but good-natured biographical sketches into which she inserts herself here spotlight the bouncy, absurd charms of her prose. On Jimi Hendrix: "I was a little virgin girl the first time I met Jimi Hendrix." On Led Zeppelin's road manager: "I tried not to watch as Richard Cole carried a skinny, wailing girl around upside down . . . then had abandoned sex with her on the liquor-covered tabletop while the rest of the band observed like it was no big deal." Des Barres has interviewed many of her subjects' family members and friends, which fleshes out what are sometimes slapdash résumés of fornications, hotel- room trashings, and drug binges. Marvin Gaye's brother discusses Gaye's cocaine addiction; Janis Joplin's guitarist and fellow heroin user Sam Andrew talks about her fatal insecurity and capacity for fun; Gram Parsons's ex-wife muses about his "dark and willow-hung" southern-gothic past. Des Barres interviewed two of her surviving subjects: Jan Berry of Jan and Dean, permanently disabled after a '60s car crash, and former crackhead Rick James, whom she visited in prison. Toward the end, the tone changes from sympathetic fandom to sheer creepiness: Those pulled out of the muck include the schizophrenic drummer (and matricide) Jim Gordon, New York gross-out king G.G. Allin, and (in some of the most appalling anecdotes ever printed about a public figure) the apparently coprophagous rock 'n' roll giant Chuck Berry.

As with Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon, to which the subtitle pays homage, there's loads of entertainment here for those who can stomach it.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312148539
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Laughing Syd Barrett - Scream Thy Last Scream 1
Jan Berry - Riding the Wild Surf of Dead Man's Curve 10
Marc Bolan - Twentieth-Century Boy 23
John "Bonzo" Bonham - In Through the Out Door 34
Kurt Cobain - All Apologies 50
Eddie Cochran - Untamed Youth 70
Freddie Mercury - I've Always Admired a Man Who Wears Tights 84
Sam Cooke - A Charge Is Gonna Come 90
Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing 103
Jimi Hendrix - Bold as Love 119
Rick James - Slow Draggin' with the Devil 139
Brian Jones - Standing in the Shadows 149
Janis Joplin - Buried Alive in the Blues 160
Keith Moon the Loon - Hope I Die Before I Get Old 178
Jim Morrison - The Lizard of Aaaaahs 190
Rick Nelson - Some People Call Me a Teenage Idol 212
Gram Parsons - Fallen Angel 225
Johnny Thunders - Too Much Junkie Business 242
Stevie Ray Vaughan - The Sky Is Crying 255
Sid Vicious - Hit Me with a Flower 264
Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blues: A Beach Boy's Funeral at Sea 275
Jim Gordon and Kurt Struebing - Mother, I Want to ... 285
Chuck Berry - My Ding-a-ling 290
G. G. Allin - Public Animal Number One 293
Axl Rose - Welcome to the Jungle 299
Bibliography 303
Index 307
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2000

    Incredibly Facinating Work!!!!

    I've always loved Pamela Des Barres writing style, and this book is no exception. She chronicals just how low rock stars can go. From seeminly innocent rock pioneers like Ricky Nelson and Chuck Berry, to the more volitile GG Allin and Axl Rose. You won't be able to put this book down, and you certainly will never think the same of the subjects!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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