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Dancing with Demons: The Authorised Biography of Dusty Springfield Hardcover – 17 Aug 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; First Edition First Printing edition (17 Aug. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340766735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340766736
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 467,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

As a child, in a desperate effort to get the attention of her parents, Mary O'Brien would place her hands on the boiler until they burned. As an adult, Mary would have the attention of the whole world. But her wigs and heavy eyeliner masked childhood insecurities that she had never been able to shake. Despite being adored by millions, a part of Dusty Springfield would forever feel loathed and unloved. While chronicling the singer's roller-coaster career, Dancing With Demons--The Authorised Biography of Dusty Springfield, reveals a vulnerable, temperamental, addictive personality whose acts of self-mutilation led to habitual hospitalisation. Based on the "intimate and personal memories" revealed by those "who knew her best", Penny Valentine and Vicky Wickham endeavour to dissect the damage that created the character that became an icon. As you'd expect from a biography written by two of her closest friends, the book paints a sympathetic picture of the high life and low times of the woman who was once the bestselling female artist in the world. But while the book benefits from the close relationship the authors shared with their subject, it also suffers from their inability to be able to view their friend from an objective perspective. Nevertheless, Dusty devotees will devour the detailed and personal account of the all too often sad existence of the white queen of (tortured) soul. --Christopher Kelly

Review

'a real treat' (Q Magazine)

'a poignant portrait of a much-loved star' (Daily Mail)

'compulsive reading' (The Big Issue)

'riveting ... remarkable candour and honesty' (The Observer)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A interesting and at times, emotional, insight into the world and life of Dusty Springfield. It is a revealing biography and plumbs the depths of Dusty's psychology and the 'demons' referred to in the title. Whilst I found it engrossing to read, at the end I felt it was probably unnecessary to delve into her personal life so deeply as this. We all have our problems and our secrets, Dusty was no exception to the rule and perhaps it is best to enjoy the musical legacy she left us and let the 'demons' rest. She was one of the great female voices of her time.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I agree with many other posters that Dusty Springfield may not have wanted this book to be written and her former friends, ie the authors, must come to their own peace about that. But it is the only book I know of that gives us more insight into her private life and the events that shaped her and makes us realise just how tortured she was underneath. I found it very sad to read but certainly didn't feel any the less about her after reading it. Dusty was a great, somewhat unsung star, who seems still to be much loved and this book will not lose her any fans; I think it may even bring her more. I also suspect that an awful lot more was left out out of respect for her than was contained in it. I do agree, however, that Vicki Wickham sounds totally disingenuous about the parts of the books that were serialised in the Daily Mail. Whether we like it or not, these chapters contain information we can't read anywhere else
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Format: Hardcover
This was never going to be an easy book for a Dusty Springfield fan to read. Rather unfortunately, we had the Daily Mail serialisations 2 weeks before the book was published. These focused solely on the low points of Dusty's career and gave the impression the book would be a salacious, scandalous depiction that refused to acknowledge the success and popularity of arguably Britain's most popular female singer.
However, the book manages to discuss many of the more painful moments in Dusty's life without being sycophantic or judgemental. The book is not a history of Dusty's musical career but prefers to tackle the so called 'demons' that seemed to catch up with her in the 1970s when her success had dried up.
We learn about the somewhat eccentric upbringing she received from parents that preferred to throw food around at meal times rather than discuss emotions. Of her strict Catholic upbringing. Of her feeling that she could never quite please her parents enough. And of course her struggles with accepting her sexuality. Somewhat more disturbing are the stories of her self abuse - cutting herself, drink and drugs and admissions to psychiatric hospitals. It's all a long way from the 60s icon that sang hits like I Only Want To Be With You and You Don't have To Say You Love Me.
Although the unhappy instances (mainly a period of ten years from the mid 70s spent in Los Angeles) are very hard to read they are necessary all the more when we get to the final chapters of the book. Dusty burst back on the music scene in 1987 with the Pet Shop Boys and continued to have success with 2 further albums before her untimely death of cancer in 1999.
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Format: Hardcover
Any ardent fan of Dusty Springfield knows that this unbelievably talented artist was also extremely private. Dancing With Demons spills the beans. That said, it is my view that the story of Ms. Springfield's private life would have come out at some point in one way or another. Vicki Wickham was there throughout, so she does have some authority on the topic. What this book does is provide an outline of the emotional climate that Dusty Springfield lived in and describes what happened to her as a result. It is a piece of her story that hadn't been told before. But it is only a piece. The fabulous aspects of Dusty Springfield, i.e., her music and her soul, are missing.
There are some wonderful stories of her humor, generosity and strength, but not enough. The story of Dusty Springfield is told from the authors' perspective, in a series of anecdotes and observations told by Ms. Wickham and those whose stories the authors recruited. It is heart breaking, especially in it's description of her years in California; and her struggle with drink, drugs and some very difficult emotional issues. The weakest part of the book is that Dusty Springfield's own voice is missing from this description. The book is really about some of the people who knew her, and how they felt about her. So although her own view of the situation is absent, the book does shed some light on the life of Dusty Springfield by describing the attitudes of the people surrounding her.
One major detail of Dusty Springfield's life left out by the authors is a description of the difficulties of being an extremely gifted woman in a world of music dominated by male record execs and their ideas of music as a business.
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By A Customer on 24 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
Don't you just love the vultures who come out to profit off someone else's misery after they're no longer here to defend themselves? Having known Dusty, she's probably waiting for a seance just to get back here and tell these two "authors" where to get off. After almost 40 years of working overtime to keep her private life private, these two come along and blow her well-guarded privacy all to pieces. Disgraceful!
The woman was one of the most gifted singers of our time. Her courageous fight against the ravages of disease - be it bi-polar disorder, addiction, or breast cancer - should be admired. She, like most of us who share those particular inherited maladies, did the best she could. No one knows the torment of the day in day out battle against those ill forces unless they've fought them up close and personal.
If you want to know Dusty Springfield, just listen to her music. It's all there. She didn't get all that "soul" by being a piece of fluff. Dusty suffered for her art. And, make no mistake, an artist she was.
What difference does it make with whom she slept? It was nobody's business when she was alive. Why should it be spread all over these pages now that she's tragically gone?
Insteading of wasting your hard-earned money on this drivel, treat yourself to a copy of "Dusty In Memphis"; and, enjoy the gift she left for all of us. Dusty will be missed forever for those of us who loved her and her music.
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