By Steven Machat
Beautiful Books, $15.95, 383 pages
Steven Machat’s father, Marty was one of the first modern music industry deal-makers. A licensed attorney, he also acted as a personal manager, and operated music publishing companies. This book details father and son’s lengthy journeys through the worlds of rock and roll, and in Steven’s case, rap music as well. Along the way are any number of amusing as well as sad tales of ego, drugs, manipulation, and seemingly perpetual greed. We learn about Sharon Osborne’s incredibly tangled relationship with her father Don Arden and Leonard Cohen’s personal brand of what the author sees as greedy Buddhism. The author doesn’t spare anyone, really, in his forays into politics, sports, incessant drug-taking, and fame.
Every reader will have his own favorite stories, mine is of industry mogul Clive Davis having himself paged at the Beverly Hills Hotel, because, according to the author, he enjoyed hearing his name called throughout the hotel on multiple loud speakers. The author comes to the conclusion that he must seek more artistry and less commerciality and yet he continues to represent mediocre artists in big dollar media deals.
The book’s editing is eccentric, and time periods keep coming up that are out of sequence. The author goes into considerable depth to explain deal-making and tax shelters, but he is on less comfortable ground when he confronts the misery of his own family’s destructive habits.
Nevertheless the stories are enjoyable and give a good picture of just how crazy the music industry was in its glory days of the 70’s and into the early 90’s.