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Dancing with Demons: The Authorised Biography of Dusty Springfield Hardcover – 17 Aug 2000
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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
'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)
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A rather slow first few chapters. The book then accelerates and the story compelling. A sad loss to the music world and beyond.Published 7 months ago by J. Vincent
Focusing in on negative detail and moments of sadness in a seemingly resentful fashion rather than giving a balanced portrayal of one of the most talented vocal artists of all... Read morePublished 7 months ago by bluemarlin
Not sure Dusty's legendary charm comes off that well from the page, she basically seems dreadful. Quite repetitive.
A good read giving me a lot of info in her past that I was unaware of. Such a tragic life.Published 14 months ago by Mr. Frank Clarke