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The Last Stage Paperback – September 10, 2008
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About the Author
Jim Cherry lives in the western suburbs of Chicago, and will be shortly be working on his next novel.
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By just glancing at this book and its blurb, one could mistake it as a tale written by a Doors fan for a Doors fan- and although that's a part of it- in the whole it's no such thing. This is a story about idolisation and of wanting to become that idol, to the degree that one loses themselves in the process. So what better icon to use as the basis for this story than Jim Morrison? The true idol of generations who exceeded being pigeon holed into simply a music icon. Jim's magic. A myth. A legend. A god. That's who Michael Gray wants to be.
The Last Stage is a very well written, excellently thought out and extremely well structured book; set at the opportune time of the start of the nineties, when The Doors were more cult famous than long term super famous, and before cover bands were ten a penny, the narrative is interspersed with gig reviews and sub-stories, which all together create a multi-faceted tale.
I had a smile on my face through much of the book, and sometimes laughed out loud. Anyone who has ever been into rock 'n' roll will surely recognise a part of themselves in Gray and the other come-to-life characters. Each of us has surely had a music icon that we worshipped in our formative years- and often, as much as we're still inspired by those stars, by the time we're into our thirties and beyond, we realise a lot of the fan worship is also a crock, and we can start to poke fun at our idols, whilst still being inspired by them. A fitting theme for a book in our modern culture of everyone wanting to be famous- rather than being successful at something they've created themselves for the sake of creating.
Anyone who's ever been in love with Jimi or Joplin or Vicious or Marley or Kurt or Winehouse... will love this book. Seeing as Morrison was my own personal 'saviour' in my youth, I certainly bought into this book, but I don't think that makes me prejudiced. In fact, rather than having Doors songs running through my head whilst reading it, my mind was instead plagued by Radiohead, with Thom Yorke singing: “I wish it was the sixties, I wish I could be happy... I wanna be Jim Morrison!”
Fronting the Doors cover band, The Unknown Soldiers, we follow a band, from start to finish. Fame is a savage beast. Cherry delves into the seedy underbelly of the music industry. A chance encounter seeing Ray Manzarek play in Chicago encourages Gray to pursue his dream of channeling the infamous and often misunderstood Jim Morrison.
The Unknown Soldiers "approach The Doors from Jim Morrison's stated Dionysian perspective, with lots of screams, falling and theatrics." Gray ultimately ends up in the City of Light, speeding through the Hollywood Hills, Laurel Canyons and Sunset Strips of the music industry, coupled with a burgeoning talent albeit naive understanding of how "the industry works."
The pinnacle is when his band plays the Whisky-A-Go-Go, the old stomping ground of The Doors. Do his dreams become a reality? Or is it another broken dream on Sunset Boulevard? Definitely buy this book and take the winding journey down the path of fame and fortune, glitter and stardust with Michael, in his quest to fulfill his dream of becoming Morrison, in all his fame and glory. You will not be disappointed!