Deke Leonard - Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics

Book Cover

This book is essentially a potted history of the Man band from their formation at the end of the sixties to their demise towards the end of the seventies. The key that makes it different from other music books is that it is told by someone who was actually there at the time, living through every moment of what was involved in being in the music business during the 1970's. If it had to be described in a few words, it may be that Ian Dury's song Sex and Drugs and Rock'n'Roll would do the job. (Except that this doesn't really take the exploits of Martin Ace into account; but Sex and Drugs and Rock'n'Roll and Martin Ace wouldn't have made such a catchy song title). It also helps that Deke Leonard knows how to write readable prose.

"Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first send to Merthyr"

Anyone who knows anything about the Man band will know that their journey has not been a smooth one. Band members came and went, musicians were invited to join and were fired with baffling regularity. The frustrating aspect which seems to accompany every line up change is that it always seems to happen just as the band are on the brink of a major break through; manager Barrie Marshall suffers as much as anyone as his charges seem to consistently shoot themselves in the foot. (Even in 1997 there are echos of this as Terry Williams is rehired, then fired again). There are repeated high expectations, but critical acclaim is never quite equalled by mass market success. In practical terms, we learn of the residencies in Germany, slogging around the UK in vans, and move on to what might pass for the big time as Man are ferried across New York in a limo.

"I suppose we'd better send for Ace"

At various points in the text, there are quotes from, references to, or meetings with the following : Seneca, Sid James, Bobby Womack, Machiavelli, Voltaire, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Neil Sedaka, Tommy Cooper, Timothy Leary, Jean Genet, Joe Cocker and Richard Burton. The influences are, if nothing else, diverse. The journey's staging posts include the band being thrown into a Belgian jail for dope smuggling and Deke having a tentative offer of an acting part in a film version of Le Rouge et le Noir. (My personal opinion is Deke would be more suited to seeking a role elsewhere in nineteenth century French literature - Balzac crafts a better paced plot, and Flaubert writes with more irony and wit). Whatever the reader's take on this, the Cinema's loss is Music's gain.

"I want a nose-job."

So much for the historical analysis. Is it a good read ? You bet. It may be that the author has applied liberal doses of artistic license, but the text is brimming with wit and observation; it can't be denied the book is a fascinating read, and well worth a tenner of anybody's money.

"During the last year we had found little to agree upon, but of one thing we were all sure, that we would never, ever, be one of those bands who re-formed in a futile attempt to recapture past glories and maybe earn a buck or two along the way. This was the end.

We re-formed on All Fool's Day, 1983."

Publisher Northdown Publishing
ISBN 1-900711-00-1
Price 9.95
Dimensions 154mm x 233mm
Extent 168 pages including eight pages of rare pictures

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