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BOOK REVIEW: GETCHA ROCKS OFF by Mick Wall

| 21 August 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: GETCHA ROCKS OFF by Mick Wall
Hatchette Australia
July 2015, rrp $32.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
10/10

Getcha Rocks Off - Mick Wall book cover

In amongst the mad stories of drink and drug-addled debauchery that pepper Mick Wall’s memoirs of how he fell into music journalism, eventually becoming the world’s foremost hard rocking writer, friend to rock stars, and liver of the dream, is what might be the real reason for him opening up and sharing these shocking stories: a palpable sadness and regret for those lost along the way that he might have been able to help had he done things differently.

He couldn’t, of course – it doesn’t work that way – but all the hanging out and multiple-day-long drug-fuelled binges with Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott and Def Leppard’s Steve Clark obviously weigh heavily upon Wall’s conscience.

An author of many books on rock n’ bands, Wall points his acerbic and descriptive pen at his own life here, describing how, as a teenager with no prospects and little enthusiasm for anything, he scored a job reviewing C-list punk and rock bands for Sounds Magazine in London almost by accident, but barely registered its importance at the time. From there he fell into PR work for the likes of Hawkwind and Black Sabbath, before a brush with junkie life left him hollowed out and lost for direction.

It took a long while for him to realise that writing about music – and more importantly, the stories behind the music, which he says always interested him more than the music itself – was his calling. Before that realisation dawns, he seems to stagger from one story to another in pursuit of the best party, the biggest bottle of Jack Daniels and the biggest bag of coke.

These were, after all, the Eighties: the days when the music industry had more money than God and no serious music press cared a damn for hard rock and heavy metal. That left the record companies with a gazillion promo dollars to spend and only a few media outlets to spend it on. [If only those days were still here I wouldn’t be sitting in my office in Perth tapping away on a laptop, I’d be swilling JD from the bottle with Slash in a private jet somewhere in the clouds. But I digress…]

So Mick Wall found himself the star reporter for Kerrang!, and then a handful of other publications, spending weeks at a time on the road with Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, David Lee Roth, Motorhead, Def Leppard and every wannabee big-haired rocker who could persuade his editor to run a feature on them.

His is a remarkable story, and no-one writes so viscerally about sordid rock star debauchery than Wall, making Getcha Rocks Off a fascinating insight to the glory days of hairy rock n’ roll, full of salacious stories and wild tales.

What elevates the book up to classic status is the chapters dedicated to Lynott and Clark. Each consumed by their own insecurities that they masked with spiralling addictions, their stories and Walls parts in them are told with the benefit of hindsight and a true sense of guilt.

The dark side to Getcha Rocks Off is that even though the star music journalist lifestyle of the ‘80s sounds like it’s exactly what a million others would kill for, it’s a treacherous path and you’re only a friend to many of these people for as long as you are of use to them. The girls want you if they think you can get them closer to the rockstars they covet, and the editor loves you as long as you keep delivering the goods. As soon as any of that dries up, your own indulgences get out of control or your friends start dying, then it’s a whole different ballgame.

Shane

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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