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No Off Switch: An Autobiography Hardcover – 1 Jul 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 347 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; 1st edition (1 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846687446
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846687440
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (347 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 115,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Andy Kershaw has led an extraordinary life. His unrivalled role in bringing World Music to the ears of the west is just part of the story of this man whose zest for life, music, people, experience and travel made him the finest British broadcaster bar none. That his life has had its ups and downs is to say that the Alps have snowy peaks, but throughout this dizzyingly paced and often wildly hilarious book he brings alive his matchless career, and the cultural life of a Britain that seems to be vanishing. Forget Media Studies and a life of student debt: read NO OFF SWITCH and learn what it is to be a real broadcast journalist, a real achiever. A real someone. (Stephen Fry)

Without you we wouldn't know nothin'! (Joe Strummer)

Andy Kershaw's memoir zooms along with the high-velocity recklessness of a TT racer. It's impossible not to cheer him on as he accelerates round the hairpin bends of his life, yelling hilarious defiance at anyone who tries to stop him. (Francis Wheen)

It's his ability to convey a sense of moment-by-moment aliveness that makes Andy Kershaw, in my opinion, the greatest living English-language broadcaster... With his unerring instinct for what will bring the story to life for the listener, he's done both jobs [Radio 1 DJ and foreign correspondent] better than anyone else. (Toby Litt New Statesman 2011-07-14)

Fabulously well-written...the wit, the brimming enthusiasm and the outrage all come direct from the broadcasting voice, but there are wonderful turns of phrase too. (James Medd Word Magazine 2011-08-01)

The excellent Radio 3 series Music Planet earlier this year showed that he's still got his broadcasting chops... he's clearly a talented bloke...hilariously opinionated... There are some terrific passages... For the past 25 years he has been one of the best things on radio - partly responsible for the "birth" of world music. Without him, artists of the stature of the Bhundu Boys and Ali Farka Toure would probably never have impacted on the wider world. I hope the Music Planet gig is only the start of a triumphant second half of his career. Whatever he broadcasts in future, I'm likely to be listening. (Chris Maume Independent 2011-07-08)

A groundbreaking DJ... Kershaw has had one hell of a life... strange and comic (Fiona Sturges Independent on Sunday 2011-07-10)

This sparky autobiography captures with exuberance his pioneering career as a music broadcaster who opened our ears, and still does. (I (mini-Independent) 2011-07-11)

It's his ability to convey a sense of moment-by-moment aliveness that makes Andy Kershaw, in my opinion, the greatest living broadcaster in the English language... His radio appearances have become rare. He's an intermittent eruption, making everything before and after sound as if it were made by zombies. (Toby Litt New Statesman 2011-07-18)

Kershaw has had fascinating life, most of which is considerably more interesting than his troubled later years. (Andrzej Lukowski Metro 2011-07-13)

Infuriating, revealing, candid, funny, rough-edged and, ultimately, moving... He writes like he broadcasts, engagingly, knowledgeably, and opinionatedly... (Alan Taylor Herald 2011-07-24)

Confirms what a fine travel writer he is, with a particularly sharp eye for the telling detail... Andy Kershaw will always be something of a hero. (James Walton Daily Mail 2011-08-19)

Intrepid to the point of lunacy, Kershaw escaped ambushes, landmines and guns being pushed in his face and has lived to tell us this most admirable tale... A terrific read... The boy wonder has survived it all and this thoroughly absorbing journal bears witness to that. Kershaw's integrity and humility shines throughout. I couldn't put this down... A mesmerising read about triumph through huge adversity. (Emrys Baird Blues and Soul 2011-08-01)

A staggeringly good read. It takes a lot for me to laugh heartily. I'll be stealing openly from it. This book is magnificent. (Nigel Blackwell, Half Man Half Biscuit)

A highly passionate, opinionated, witty, enlightening account of the broadcaster's career, personal life and world view. (Record Collector 2011-10-01)

He made me travel a little further than I usually do! He has an ability to do things first and ask questions afterwards. Not a recipe for a safe, secure life, maybe, but it makes things a lot more interesting for the rest of us!

I've always enjoyed his foreign correspondent reports - and felt envious too.

He is such an enthusiast.

(Michael Palin 2011-11-02)

The book depicts with candour, humour and sharpness a life jammed with incident... a winning combination of levity and seriousness. (Ian Harrison Mojo 2011-10-01)

Book Description

Britain's maverick radio DJ and foreign correspondent is back on air and in print with this no-holds-barred autobiography of a full-throttle life

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a teenager growing up in rural America, I often dreamed of places like London and Leeds, of The Clash and sell-out rock 'n' roll gigs. I wanted to move to England and marry a rock star. It never happened (the rock star part).

And so when I picked up Andy Kershaw's No Off Switch, I was drawn in at once to his fascinating, first-hand account of this world. The book is humorous and full of energy and cheek. Kershaw's lived a life most of us can only dream of, and still, the book is accessible, relatable.

I was touched by Kershaw's honesty and self-deprecating candour about his shyness throughout his youth. About the time he worked up enough courage to approach the cool, assured Entertainment Secretary in the student union at Leeds University; a guy with `bog-brush hair'--a much older, mature student--and ask him for his job when he left. It was Kershaw's first day at uni. He was scrawny and `looked about twelve,' in comparison. And even though he was terrified and the guys hanging around nearby laughed him off, the Secretary, Steve, immediately signed Kershaw up as an Entertainment steward. `I was in. I was signed up. Me. I belonged,' Kershaw writes.

This is just the beginning. Kershaw has a way of inviting the reader in--of hauling us into the moment, right beside him. While he's travelled to 97 of the world's 193 countries, reported from the frontlines during the Rwanda genocide, worked alongside Billy Bragg and the Rolling Stones, his fears and insecurities, his enthusiasm, are what makes this book come alive. Which of us doesn't want to belong? Which of us still remembers the day we stood, with nervous energy, in a crowd at our first concert, our ears blasted by stereo noise, cherishing our ticket stubs?

I highly recommend this book; it captures the essence of youth and is an all-around entertaining read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I started reading this not really sure if I liked Andy Kershaw or not. Half-way through, and I was still none the wiser. This multi-faceted personality has got lots of different sides, and quite a few of them are quite annoying (particularly if you're his girlfriend, apparently). But as Kershaw's charmed life starts to unravel, something odd started happening. First of all I found myself warming to him as he trails the globe unearthing undiscovered musical gems. Then I was rooting for him in his seemingly one-man battle against radio ga-ga, and by the time he'd become a foreign correspondent, I found myself crying with him at some of the world's recent horror stories. And then, when things really went into a tail-spin from Day One of his new life on The Isle of Man, I was metaphorically rolling up my sleeves ready to scrap for him. I realise now how much the real Andy Kershaw had passed me by. Saddled with a perception of him anchored by his in-yer-face brusque, bluff mid-eighties persona, I completely missed his late night radio show years, his rogue-state journalism era and his Radio 3 rehab. Instead, he only popped back on my radar as a tabloid villain in 2007. Well, my perceptions were all wrong. Here's someone who's been harshly treated by life, but is thankfully bouncing back and good luck to him - he's done some amazing things, and his story is compelling, as he pings from trouble-spot to trouble-spot, lashing-out at plenty of sacred cows as he goes (Elvis, Sir Bob Geldof, The Beatles and even John Peel). So, no punches are pulled, and plenty are thrown. Hold my coat someone, Kersh needs a hand.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Andy Kershaw can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, for he single-handedly introduced me to world music way, way back. I've still got tons of stuff recorded from his Radio 1 show, with labels desperately trying to make sense of those weird names from Mali and Guinea playing strange instruments I'd never heard of. And that glorious soukous guitar of Diblo Dibala, and so on and on. Now I've got them all on CD and can't keep up with the huge number of releases these days.

His book has just that same blast of single-minded enthusiasm that his shows did then. I knew I liked the music he liked: now I find he doesn't like the same music I don't like, such as U2 and Led Zeppelin: good to know! His account is as honest and straightforward as you'd expect, beautifully written, no fools suffered, opinions bluntly expressed, very, very funny, and a lot harder to put down than almost any thriller I've read. You don't need to like world music - or even music much, for that matter - to like No Off Switch. It's just a glorious romp through the life of a permanent fan who has unearthed great music, has met a lot of interesting (and some great) people, and been to some seriously bad places like Haiti and Angola. The guy's a real national treasure.

I'm pleased he's over his personal problems and back on form: we need him more than ever (and I'm far from being a leftie like him). But Andy, it may be a thick book but it's still way too short - I hope you're going to put pen to paper again soon.

Get it now.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For Kershaw fans, I cannot recommend this book enough. I can guarantee you will enjoy every page. I'm 59 and have listened to radio (and music) all my life since I was 5 years old and found a 10" 78rpm of Lonnie Donegan's "Cumberland Gap" and asked my mother to play it. That was it, that was all it took, I was off. And in all that time I have to say that Kershaw is one of the very best broadcasters this country has ever produced. As a music anorak, I'm often heard to say that one of the greatest items in my personal music collection is a number of boxes of tapes of Kershaw programmes from the 90s/new millenium that were completely outstanding in their choice of latin, african, asian, folk, country and r&b greats. I even went out and bought an enhanced FM radio aerial for the purpose. This book is also a must for any fans of the late, great John Walters, who - inevitably and quite rightly - features prominently in a number of chapters. Today, Andy seems thankfully to be over his well publicised difficulties of a few years back. Frankly, I'm not interested in the details of that. As long as all concerned have moved on, I don't see any reason why our airwaves should be short-changed any longer by his absence, since his series for Radio 3 a year or so back. A terrific read from terrific broadcaster.
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