Richard Hell (born Richard Meyers in Lexington, Kentucky), the punk-rock musician with the seminal punk bands Television and the Voidoids, presents an autobiography that ends in the early 1980s, when Hell stopped playing music and became a full-time writer. From an early age, Hell knew what he wanted: a “life of adventure.” He remembers growing up in suburban America in the 1950s and feeling like an outsider. He was bored with school, got into small scrapes with the law, and generally wished he were somewhere else. He eventually made his way to New York. He writes about the jobs he had (including stints in such iconic bookstores as Gotham Book Mart and the Strand) and the musicians he met, from Debbie Harry to Patti Smith. Hell is a fine writer and full of self-knowledge, and part of the pleasure of this randy, drug-addled memoir are his descriptions of New York during the bad old days when crime was rampant and the streets filthy. A compelling and entertaining memoir by a punk-rock pioneer. --June Sawyers
"Half of the beauty of rock and roll," Hell writes, "is that 'anyone can do it' in the sense that's it not about being a virtuoso but about just being plugged in in a certain way, just having an innocent instinct and a lot of luck." So much of Tramp is just a recounting of where that instinct took him. Mostly you read I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp for Hell's mind, which is weird and singular and superbly self-aware. He's a scumbag with an intimate, articulate understanding of scumbag psychology. "Being a rock and roll musician was like being a pimp," he writes, "It was about making young girls want to pay money to be near you." This isn't nice, but it's true—something you could say about most of this memoir. Hell's gift, then and now, is for finding a redemptive kind of ugly in otherwise blank, beautiful things, himself very much included. —Zach BaronSee all Editorial Reviews
This book contains some beautiful writing. However, the order is chronological and you can tell that Mr. Hell struggled with that form. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Suzanne M. Wheat
Much better than I expected. Hell for me has been a forgotten element of the punk days, a time which had a big influence on my life. Read morePublished 3 months ago by ignacio f.
Great history ,from ond of the persons that saved and reshapef rock n rollPublished 4 months ago by Mitchell L. Ross
Dug book. It's sad he does not play music any more. Hell I haven't even heard of anything he's done recently. Go read now!Published 5 months ago by vikki
All of the sequences and events engaged in this particular autobiography can be summed up as a inspirational conversation for the forgotten derelicts and lost souls of the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Dennis Dudley
I was around for those days at CBGB in the mid seventies...Hell had some good moments,and does in this book,but ultimately he comes across as so full of his 'greatness' in this... Read morePublished 9 months ago by MK
While I enjoyed reading this book, it abruptly stops in 1984 and leaves you wanting more.
Although I'm a decade younger than Richard Hell, I lived in New York and hung out in... Read more