Book summary

Rock Bottom: A Music Writer's Journey into Madness ebook review

Michael Odell is a rock music writer who takes his responsibility as cultural gatekeeper seriously; he asks rock stars the forbidden questions to discover whether they’re worthy of readers’ admiration.

But after interviewing Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – two of the ‘Big Six’ icons – Michael is depressed. He has a public meltdown while chaperoning Oasis at an awards cerem Michael Odell is a rock music writer who takes his responsibility as cultural gatekeeper seriously; he asks rock stars the forbidden questions to discover whether they’re worthy of readers’ admiration.

But after interviewing Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – two of the ‘Big Six’ icons – Michael is depressed. He has a public meltdown while chaperoning Oasis at an awards ceremony; he’s lost joy in his bathroom full of rock’n’roll memorabilia; and his young son is in trouble at school for emulating rock star behaviour.

Reluctantly Michael consults Mrs Henckel, a no-nonsense therapist with zero experience of pop culture. As Michael addresses his feelings about the past, in particular his failed teenage band, Mental Elf, he’s forced to confront the question: is it finally time to grow up and forget rock’n’roll?

Michael Odell is a former contributing editor to Q magazine and has written about music for NME, the Guardian, the Independent and Spin, among others. Currently he does interviews and writes on family matters for The Times. He lives in Bristol.

"Please don't put your life in the hands of a rock 'n' roll band, who'll throw it all away." So advised Noel Gallagher in 1995 and Michael Odell ignored him anyway.

One of Britain's most fearless rock interrogators, Odell turns his merciless searchlight on himself in this wry, compelling odyssey into the heart of his own - and rock n roll's - madness. Larks with the legends are all here (Bowie, McCartney, Mick `n' Keef ... Michael Buble) but it's his inner life which illuminates, his psyche traumatically crumbling as he confronts his chaotic past.

Hilarious, tragic and timely, this is high farce in high (and low) places, uncovering why rock's lost highway is littered with the bodies of the righteous dreamers. Could it be because "the music people are all mad?" (Clue: yes.)' -- Sylvia Patterson, author of I'm Not with the Band

`Hilarious and disarmingly honest; a journey into the neurosis of rock fame, but through doors you don't expect.' -- Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

`Rock Bottom is one of the best music books ever written, because Michael Odell knows music isn't about the musicians - it's about what it does to the listener, even if what it does ends up being wholly disastrous. It's sad, funny, fascinating and wise. And everyone who ever claimed a record changed their life should read it, and then think again.' -- Michael Hann, former Guardian music editor

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