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Sex and rock n roll - not so many drugs
on 1 February 2012
I was a big fan of Adam Ant in the late 70s, before he went on to become mega with the whole cowboys, Indians and pirates thing. I first saw the band in an early incarnation at Wardour Street's Vortex Club supporting my other fave ('before they became famous') band Siouxsie and the Banshees. I liked the vaguely dangerous atmosphere at the gigs, loved the edgy show, the frankly weird songs about S&M, Dirk Bogarde, and Hampstead ('not a place for revolutions - you're deprived of being deprived'). So the parts of this book that interested me most were those that dealt with this early period, and it went all too quickly. Adam's rise to fame was accompanied by sex addiction, an inability to stay in one place for too long - he bought several houses, in several places, in which he barely lived before selling them - and an inability to stay in the steady relationships he craved. It's all here, set out frankly, and rather heartbreakingly at times, and I was reading, thinking, 'How did you screw that up AGAIN...' The repetitive nature of Adam's various and numerous affairs with women, conflicts with managers and record companies comes through in the book, and, far from making it a bad read, underlines the nature of what is gradually revealed: his incipient mental illness, culminating in his well-publicised instances of being sectioned and prosecuted. I can't really complain about the lack of detail in the early years - the early versions of the Ants just formed a phase he went through - but I'd like to have seen more detail of the creative aspects; how did he come to write this song or that, what was in his mind at the time. The number of collaborators he worked with grew, but he writes off their endeavours with yet another statement on the lines of 'so we got together and wrote more songs'. His observations on the early punk scene and some of its characters are quite well done - including two punch-ups with Sid Vicious - and his time spent with characters as larger-than-life as Derek Jarman, Jordan (Pamela Rooke, so much more than a 'shop assistant for Vivienne Westwood') and Malcolm McLaren. Adam's quest to 'get into the movies' draws a lot of time in the book, and his sense of despair at being offered yet another role as a 'sort of rock star figure' comes over very well; unfortunately, he starts to tell it as desperately as he must have appeared to be, finally making the wrong choices of roles in films destined to be B-movies before they were even finished. The end seems positive - the Kindle version has a long footnote about having his book out and knowing that there are still people out there who are fans, a new relationship that at last seems stable and a positive turn to his life. He did a series of gigs throughout 2011 - look them up on YouTube - in which he seems to have regained his old songs and his old power and presence, and I hope (being an old admirer, despite his having dropped off my radar for 20 years) that continues for him.