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Simon Napier Bell: the Dodgy Business of Popular Music: On the Road….





Simon Napier-Bell (who previously managed Wham, Marc Bolan, Japan and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page (during his Yardbirds phase) is back in Skrufff, delivering a short series of excerpts from his must-read new history of the music business book ‘TA-RA-RA-BOOM-DE-AY- the Dodgy Business of Popular Music’. (Click here to download/ buy )



“There were new mammoths of rock coming up all the time – David Bowie, Queen, Metallica, Aerosmith, Jefferson Starship, Little Feat, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult – all of them with the same style of rock circus, all of them running round America in a continual spiralling loop of excess, though the excesses weren’t always violent.


Elton John’s excess was in his theatrical exuberance. He started his show like a Broadway finale, then built further – eight grand pianos, fifty dancing girls, thirteen changes of costume.


But whatever the differences in their stage shows, when it came to drug-taking every group told the same story. After being onstage and getting sent sky-high by the intense release of adrenalin it produced, rock performers found they couldn’t come down when the show was finished.


The periods between performances became an intolerable vacuum. People thought it was all parties, but it wasn’t; it’s just that the parties were what people remembered. Mainly it was boring. Waiting. Staring blankly at TV. Ordering room service.


For all rock artists the problem was the same; when the audience wasn’t in front of them the emptiness was all-consuming. And usually there was just one answer. Drugs.


“Fucking rock-star ridiculousness . . .” said Butch Trucks, the drummer with the Allman Brothers “ . . . the cocaine was pouring . . . you would go backstage and there would be a line of thirty dealers waiting outside.”


“Hangers-on came backstage with piles of drugs like ‘the three Kings off to see Jesus in his stable’,” said Robert Greenfield in his book on touring with the Stones.


Steven Tyler of Aerosmith believed, “anything that was worth doing was worth overdoing”.


Musicians did drugs to have fun, to pass time, to kill the craving for being on stage, to obliterate themselves – going up, coming down.


Brian Jones told friends it was like being dead in an elevator.”


TA-RA-RA-BOOM-DE-AY- the Dodgy Business of Popular Music: “click here to download/ buy:











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