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BOOK REVIEW: Johnny O’Keefe: Rocker, Legend, Wild One

| 6 May 2014 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Johnny O’Keefe: Rocker, Legend, Wild One
By Jeff Apter
Reviewed by Shayne McGowan


I am a lifelong Johnny O’Keefe fan, and it’s safe to say that my journey in to rock music started with him. I remember constantly listening to dubbed tapes of his greatest hits, and learning every word to every song. Although I have grown to appreciate Elvis Presley, Johnny O’Keefe will always be the REAL “King of Rock ‘N’ Roll” to me.

Written by Jeff Apter, an accomplished writer who has previously released biographies on Red Hot Chili Peppers, Silverchair, Marc Hunter and most notably, having his Jeff Buckley biography optioned for a film. He has also co-written books with Mark Evans and Kasey Chambers, so the Johnny O’Keefe story is in good hands.

While reading this biography, it became clear to me that I really didn’t know much about Johnny at all. I had always heard bits and pieces about a car accident, a breakdown or a TV show, but never done any reading or research on the wild one. It was always just about the music to me.

As somebody who has recently managed local bands, I found myself having a laugh at how the music business has come full circle. There is a story within this book of JO’K not receiving radio or record label support, and really taking his career into his own hands, begging radio stations for play, booking his own shows, and hanging fliers himself… I guarantee the same thing is happening right now for countless bands around the country.

It’s a credit to the author that this book is absolutely jam packed full of information, but never to the point of becoming a boring encyclopaedic read. The flow of the story is perfect, never dwelling on insignificant details, but painting a picture of a troubled man, who would do anything to further his career, and do anything to please his fans, more often than not to the detriment of his family life, and his own personal health. I think this book would make for an excellent film adaptation.

Whether you’re a fan of his music or not, the story of Johnny O’keefe is a fascinating one, and I am sure that you will finish this book with a greater understanding of the man, and a greater appreciation of the music.

I have learnt so much about him from this book, and I know now that Johnny was so much more than just the music.


Category: Book Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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