Top positive review
81 of 83 people found this helpful
Absolutely superb biography.
on March 24, 2014
Short form: if you are interested in Alex Chilton or Big Star to any degree, this book is a must read. An incredibly well-researched and superbly written biography of a really complex, interesting man and his music.
Longer form: I know at least a bit about the subject matter. I'm the author of the 33 1/3 book Big Star's Radio City. I started out in the mid 70s as a Big Star / Chilton fan. Eventually met Alex in '1979, played some shows with him and stayed in touch over the decades. I spent two years doing research and interviews for the 33 1/3 book and even before doing that, had read pretty much every article written about him. I also provided material for the Nothing Can Hurt Me film. (I didn't know Holly when she started the book but gladly provided her with all of my research materials, notably Alex's last extended interview.) So before I got to read the book, I was thinking that I'd probably be pretty familiar most of the details. Well, as Lou Reed once observed, "Just goes to show how wrong you can be."
Even if you're the biggest Alex Chilton fan on the planet, you'll be amazed at how much new material (much of it from previously unexplored sources) Holly has uncovered and how many new details and insights she adds to the parts of Alex's story that you think you know all about. Start reading and you'll immediately know that you're in the hands of serious major league biographer. One paragraph in I realized that I wasn't going to be skipping past a single sentence.
Most rock /music biographies read like an extended magazine feature and don't bring anything really new to the table. Way too many are just cobbled together from already existing material that's repeated over and over as gospel truth without any reexamination (it takes a lot more work to do real research). A Man Called Destruction reads like Peter Guralnick's bios of Elvis and Sam Cooke or the Gary Giddins bio of Bing Crosby. It's on that level and that's about the highest praise I could give a book in this genre. If you're not totally familiar with Alex's work, the book will make you want to explore it all. If you've heard it all, you'll hear it in a new way. I'd write more but it's time for you to stop reading this and start reading A Man Called Destruction.