My dear friend Clint, down in Melbourne Australia, recommended me to read the HEART biography “Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll“.
He reads rock-biographies and what he liked about this one was that it was told from a female perspective, which was different and interesting. It just highlighted a different aspect of being a musician – with your balls placed slightly higher up.
It took me a while, but I finally got around to reading it. Or rather, listening to it, as I’ve become obsessed with audio-books. It really had me spellbound pretty quickly. It’s very rare to come across a story where I feel like I could have written big chunks of that story myself.
Listening to Ann Wilson, the undisputed goddess of rock vocalists, telling her story about her constant battle with her weight while growing up, the bullying in school, feeling like you never quite belong anywhere, and the escape into the magical world of music…. I did that – all the time.
I would lock my door and listen to old vinyls that one of my mother’s best friends had given her, cause they didn’t want them anymore, LP’s with Ike and Tina or my favorite, an Australian band called Walrus – or colorful vinyl singles from my grandfather who had worked at a jukebox factory.
When the songs fell off the charts, the jukeboxes had to be “refilled”, so the old singles were thrown away and filled up with new, fresh hits. So, instead of throwing them away, he would take some of those singles and bring them home.
My mom had a portable record player that looked like a tiny suitcase, so I inherited that, and listened to those old, scratchy Brenda Lee and Connie Frances-singles.
They were worn out, cause they had been played all day long for months in that jukebox and weren’t really supposed to be used ever again. I wouldn’t let them retire though, I loved “Dum-Dum” by Brenda Lee especially when I was a little girl.
Anyway, music was ALWAYS my escape. So to hear one of the Wilson sisters talking about growing up with similar thoughts and experiences really hit home with me.
Their story of how they discovered The Beatles. How it was like being hit by lightning, how life was defined as before and after The Beatles. I can barely even remember a time before the Beatles, but I grew up two decades after the Wilson sisters. I loved the Beatles more than life itself, I can’t even explain that feeling. I still get in touch with that feeling nowadays, going to see Paul McCartney in concert.
But one thing definitely also sounded VERY familiar to me. Not quite belonging in a group of other girls. I honestly felt like I didn’t belong with other girls my age, most of my teenage years. Because most girls didn’t care about music on the same level as I did. To me it wasn’t just entertainment, it was everything. It was life. It was…well, it was ME. I can’t even imagine an existence without music.
I didn’t care about chasing guys, I rather wanted to be one of the guys – cause they had the same interests as me – for the most part.
I wasn’t interested in fashion and makeup or going to the latest, coolest clubs. I honestly didn’t give a flying patootie about any of that.
Beatles was the most powerful experience I had had up until I discovered Judas Priest, but that’s a different story. There was a short period of worshipping Duran Duran too – but the one thing that the Wilsons brought up in their bio, is a detail I never really thought about, but it’s very true: Other girls wanted to be somebody’s girlfriend. Live someone else’s life, support their boyfriends in their dreams and goals, but they didn’t have too many of their own.
I didn’t want to be someone’s girlfriend. Don’t get me wrong, I was usually head over heels crazy about some dude – or cried over one – most of my life. But I would never ever allow anyone to get in the way of my dreams. I had lots of them and I pursued them. I ended up staying single for longer than I thought because of it. :)
Ann and Nancy were outcasts who found that playing and singing was like “coming home”, it brought them happiness and a sense of purpose. This must have been especially difficult in the sixties and seventies when women definitely weren’t expected to have a mind of their own.
That’s another thing. I will forever be grateful to my parents for never ever uttering the words: “That’s not for girls” – or have strong opinions about what was supposedly male or female.
They let me do whatever made me happy. If I wanted to race guys down the street on a bicycle, that was fine. If I wanted to climb trees, no problemo. Play cowboys and indians, play with toy cars, listen to rock’n’roll? No problem, what would you like to do today?
The toy stores weren’t as divided into girls and boys back in those days either, thank god.
As a kid I was convinced that I could do anything, that there were no boundaries. So, when I walked into a toy store I was not presented any predefined ideas of who I was supposed to be. I would just go and pick out what I thought look like fun – so one day it might have been a Barbie doll and the next it was a super hero.
So I wasn’t raised to be that coquette girlie-girl. I had other dreams and plans, but it also meant that I was lonely a lot of the time, because most friends couldn’t relate.
To hear two women who have been highly successful, talk about going through all these things, but in their own way, is such an amazing feeling. It means more than I thought to hear that, after all these years. You don’t think much of it, until one day you’re reminded and you realize that you weren’t the only one.
I read Lita Ford’s biography too but I couldn’t relate to her life at all. She was more wild and destructive in many ways, she didn’t seem to have particularly strict parents like I did (and the Wilson sisters) so it wasn’t “my story”. This, however, is – in many ways.
They didn’t want to be girlfriends, wives or groupies. They wanted to BE The Beatles, they wanted to play like John and Paul, not date them. Bingo. That’s exactly it!
I used to be accused of being a groupie for years, cause people didn’t know what to make of me. I was always backstage somewhere or hanging out with some rockstar with a bad reputation – so naturally they took to the only explanation they knew of. A whore. A wannabe. A groupie. It took me almost two decades to earn the respect that I feel that I have nowadays. People know my deal now. Well, better than they did back then at least.
Ann and Nancy talk about their experiences of being the women in the band, life on the road, life in those circles. I didn’t experience it on their level, but yeah, I know what that is like as well. Being that ONE girl, that ONE woman in a male-dominated world.
I never thought of it that way though. I didn’t think of it as not fitting in, cause in my mind it was quite the contrary.
I had the same blunt sense of humor as the dudes, I had the same drive – sometimes even more – as they did, I was pushy and determined, like they were. I shared their passion for music, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
But one thing that I’ve experienced my whole life, is that feeling of being different and sometimes being misunderstood or wrongly labeled.
I wrote a blog many years ago – before the term existed. I called it “diary”. I wanted to explain why I could never be a groupie.
To me, music was WAY bigger than the guy.
I admired them tremendously for the music they wrote, which to me almost made them GODS. They were above regular people. Anyone who could create something that amazing, was not of this world.
So, to sleep with these guys, would just degrade them (in my opinion) and make them common, regular..men. It would transform them into regular dudes with a dick, something trivial, something boring, something way too…. cheap.
What I wanted was their time, I wanted to know what drove them, what or who created the person who could write such music, I wanted to understand their magic, their treasure, their “divinity”.
I could never have slept with any of them. I just didn’t perceive them that way. They were beyond common sex. A monkey can have sex. But a monkey can’t write “Yesterday”…
It was far more valuable to me to understand these musicians, because I wanted to be where they were, being successful in doing what they loved to do and were good at. I had zero interest in being the whore of the evening.
Listening to “Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll” brings up so many memories and so many thoughts and reflections of my own journey. Sometimes it feels like it wasn’t even me.
I’ve lived the way I wanted to live but everything comes at a price. I didn’t marry or have kids. And quite honestly, I don’t regret a single thing. I would do it all again, exactly the same way. Maybe with a few alterations…
Men usually equaled heartache and pain, a waste of energy while my work, my passions and my dreams, fulfilled me. Much like men often prioritize.
I still have lots of things to do, I still love music and the whole world surrounding it, with every fiber of my body, mind, heart, and soul.
So this biography isn’t as much about the life of the Wilson sisters, but also a mirror that allows me to discover myself and see my own life in a different light.
There were others that went through similar things and thought similar thoughts. It means a great deal to realize that this late in life. :) But it all makes sense.
The pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. :D
This blog was created a few years ago as an alternative to what people around me at the time kept asking for: “Write a BOOK!” The more I thought about it, the bigger the project seemed, and I gave up the idea.
I know how to write an article, but I don’t have the time, patience or knowledge to write a book, as that is something entirely different. Structuring it, remembering things in the right, chronological order, seemed like a neverending story that I would end up not finishing. I know myself that much.
But, the topic came up again recently and I decided that this is something that will keep bothering me as unfinished business if I don’t go ahead and freaking DO IT.
So I contacted a guy who’s already written his own rock’n’roll biography (“RockStar-wannabe”) and has left a genuine impression as a person who truly loves music and enjoys writing. If I’m ever gonna do this, it will have to be with the help of a ghostwriter. So that’s where he got into the picture. I wanted to know if he would even be interested in taking part in a project like that.
We met up in a hotel restaurant/bar yesterday, as that is the only place in town that is suitable for a professional discussion (without all the noise and drunks). We ended up talking for over 3 hours and he was late for a release party he was supposed to go to. Ooops!
Apart from needing help from someone else to write this, I also wanted to check if the personal chemistry was okay, because I can’t work with someone I can’t stand or who in any way is getting on my nerves. And I can be a bit difficult with that sometimes, I have to admit.
Luckily, I felt perfectly comfortable and didn’t have any problems bringing up different topics that I normally wouldn’t with a “perfect stranger”. That’s a good sign. In other words, the test was successful, it will work with the chemistry and that’s a huge part of all this.
What remains to be answered is… WHO am I writing it for? I don’t even know – cause I know for a fact that it’s not just hardcore metalheads that are reading this blog. I’ve got people who know very little about hard rock, who enjoy reading this, so that makes it hard to answer the question “Who is your target audience?”
– Let me know who you are, and also what it is you like about this blog.
The second question was, how much of myself am I willing to give away and what’s the purpose of the book? Man, I never even thought in those terms. It’s obvious I need someone’s help for sure!
I only thought of it as “my story” to inspire others to follow their dreams. Miracles happen if you only believe. You don’t have to be the stereotype that people expect you to be. In my case it was, as usual, people thinking that because you’re female in a male-dominated world, you’re just there to screw some dude with a guitar. Never been my deal. I guess I would like to tell my story to other girls, let them know that you don’t need to do anything you’re not comfortable with, to find your place in this rock’n’roll circus.
But people want the “dirt”. Would I be willing to tell juicy stories about rock stars? I don’t think I would. I’ve always been telling stories, but never crossed that invisible line for what I felt was okay to tell. I haven’t “outed” anyone for their drug use or groupie sessions, I don’t want to make myself a name by dragging someone else’s name through the mud. That’s not what I’m about either.
Whatever has happened behind the scenes throughout the years is stuff that I’ve seen and heard because people trusted me. And I’m not so sure I want to break that trust.
Which once again leaves me with the question – without the dirt, is there even any point writing this? Are people okay with just the funny anecdotes? Or does it really have to be dragged through the mud to be interesting?
Please let me know your thoughts by commenting here below or PM/comment on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/InTheRearviewMirror
I’ve lived in the rock’n’roll world my whole adult life, I’ve done everything from writing to singing, starting rock clubs, doing radio, TV, band/artist management, DJ’ing and anything else that came along that felt like a fun challenge. I’ve travelled the world and seen bands in every continent. I’ve met and talked to most of the classic rock stars, from Kiss, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy, Whitesnake, Dio, Aerosmith, you name it…. Some artists have become good personal friends, and all in all, this IS my life. I’ve lived it since the day I discovered heavy metal in my parent’s living room back in 1983!
People kept telling me “write a book”. Well – it’s in the making. I’m open for your thoughts and suggestions – what would you want to read, what would trigger you to buy a book from a female rock journalist and rock fan? :) Let me know!
From Neil Daniel’s book “All Pens Blazing” where I’m one of the featured rock journalists:
Reading one of our Swedish tabloids…. On today’s news is the Swedish king’s former mistress from the pop act Army of Lovers – Camilla Henemark, also known as “La Camilla“.
Nobody gave a fuck about her for years. Now she sees her opportunity to get her ass back in the spotlight with the help of an autobiography where she exposes every celebrity that she’s somehow been “involved” with.
It’s been all over the news because she supposedly had an affair with the king of Sweden – and now she’s giving us the details – woo hoo. They were throwing sushi at eachother, rolling around on the floor, whatever whatever. Too much info.
My question is… Why do I need to know this? To me it’s just as uncomfortable as listening to a stranger’s private conversation on the bus. It’s none of my business. Your food-fights are between you and the other person. whether it’s your neighbor or the King of fucking Sweden.
Why is this considered useful information for anyone else – at all? All this nasty crap is beginning to bug me. La Camilla is far from the first or the only one who’s done this.
Another one that comes to mind is a Swedish rock journalist who I used to admire and look up to when I was a teenager. I’m not so sure that the respect I once had is so intact anymore.
A while back he wrote his memoirs – and made sure to include all the dirt and nasty details he could think of about the “rock stars” he had gotten close to throughout the years.
When asked about it, he said that it’s all cool, he had asked all the exposed artists if they were okay with it and according to him they’ve all been absolutely thrilled about being hung out to dry.
So, he’s basically cashing in on the fact that he’s been a part of the industry and was lucky enough to see and hear all those “juicy” things. It’s of course HIS choice how he chooses to portray himself, but how much of a choice was it for the people mentioned in the bio?
Now he’s written an unauthorized biography about Yngwie Malmsteen, kind of saying that it’s the only way to get “the truth” as Yngwie himself doesn’t like NOT being adored.
Well – that last part I actually do believe, because Yngwie is kind of “special” that way. :)
The point that I’m gettig at here is that it’s become a trend to expose other people for your own benefit.
It’s been done many many times, especially by groupies whose only claim to fame is that they’ve fucked guys who managed to do something with their lives and got famous for their music. So – a blowjob or a few orgies is all it takes to make a groupie a celebrity. Easy.
People haven’t evolved since they were cheering at gladiators killing eachother in a ring or watching witches being burned at the stake.
Someone else’s misery is enjoyable to so many. As much in 2012 as in 2012 B.C.
Groupies are one thing, seems that some of them are only doing it to get themselves a bit of the spotlight (although, I see a big difference between the “old school” groupies such as Pamela DesBarres or Bebe Buell and the modern groupie chicks ).
But… when it comes to people who have been close to a band – such as managers, crew people, girlfriends, wives, journalists…. To me it feels like it’s an unwritten rule that if you’re part of the circus, be cool about it for christ’s sake. It’s like any other kind of friendship – where’s the loyalty and the integrity when you go public with the things you’ve seen when being a part of the rock’n’roll package??
That old saying “Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” is a rule that applies to the world of music as well. Whatever happens on tour….
None of these “authors” would like their own dirty laundry on display – the difference is that the celebrity can’t hit back with the same weapon, because nobody gives a shit about….a nobody.
It’s an abuse of power that’s really disturbing, when people who have had the opportunity to get to know someone in the entertainment-industry, suddenly decide to dig out all those secrets that were supposed to be kept private – and turn it into public entertainment.
I’ve been betrayed by friends, people I trusted, and it’s a horrible feeling. For most of us it doesn’t become public knowledge. As a celebrity you’re always risking that. It blows when some make rock stars or movie stars targets for these “reveal it all” sort of books. It’s fucking crap and I lose respect for the people who do it. They would sell their mother if they could benefit from it.
This might be a stupid example because it’s on a totally different level than the Yngwie or the “I screwed the king”-thing, but two years ago I had an idea to write a book about the time spent with Jon Oliva’s Pain. It was supposed to be something from a different perspective as I’m not a groupie so it would be written from an angle that people might not be used to.
But after maybe 50 pages or so, I gave up. It just didn’t feel right. Where do you draw the line between privacy and what’s okay to expose in public?
These people welcomed me into their life on the road, shared whatever was theirs with me – food, bus, whatever, and most of all, they always welcomed me with open arms everywhere. And most of them are still my friends.
Not that there was any “Motley Crue” sort of dirt to expose, but just in general – what would they be cool with and what would be stepping over boundaries…? It wasn’t as obvious as I had thought when I first began. I just ditched the whole thing.
I’ve written about “rock stars” for 25 years now. I admit that I made some mistakes, especially when I was younger, because I was so eager to build myself a career and show that I was as tough as the journalists I thought were cool at the time. I wanted to get to the top, no matter what.
I was thrown into this crazy circus as a teenager and was schooled in the world of tabloids. Whatever made a good story was okay, no matter who you hurt in the process or how much of an ass you had to be to get the scoop. I used to think that was true. I don’t anymore and I haven’t for many years.
This (article above) from the early 90’s was my wake-up call.
Sebastian Bach called one evening, as a friend – not an interview. They were off the road and in the studio, recording for what was to become “Slave To The Grind“. After the call I figured it was a “world exclusive” as they weren’t doing interviews at the time. So I turned the private call into a sensation article for the biggest music magazine in Sweden – OKEJ.
I felt horrible shortly after seeing it published, it was so wrong. Guess you don’t learn your lesson unless you’ve already screwed up. I talked to Baz about it after, apologized from the bottom of my heart. He took it a lot better than I had, to him it was just publicity and he was cool with it. However, I NEVER did that again, goddamn awful…!
If an editor in chief wants me to dig up the dirt on someone, to sell a few extra copies of a magazine, he can count me out. Find someone else to do it. I want to sleep at night with a clear conscience – I’m not in this business to be an asshole and I’m not in it for the money either. I got in it for the love of music when I was a teenager and to this day it’s still the sole reason why I’m still here.
I’ve seen and heard plenty of shit throughout the years (especially hanging with Skid Row in their heyday, you can imagine…) but I’ve deliberately left out the worst and juciest stories. Those I’m taking with me to the grave.
Everything is of course always subject to your own evaluation and judgement. I’ve written about stuff that I thought was funny or just as a piece of trivia, but nowadays I’m definitely not interested in remembering the eighties and nineties for the sake of causing a “sensation”.
Fuck that. It’s tasteless and greedy and it just shows that the people who write these books really have no morals whatsoever. Could be that the people they’re writing about are total pigs and “deserve” being exposed, but at the end of the day, it’s not about who other people choose to be. It’s who YOU choose to be. It’s always about oneself, not others.
It’s one thing to write your autobiography, but leave the nastiness out of it and don’t make decisions for someone else what should or shouldn’t become public knowledge. There’s already a Metal Sludge, the world doesn’t need more of that.