Apathy For The Devil: Adrift In The Snowblind '70s

Apathy for the Devil: A 70s Memoir By Nick Kent Da Capo Press, 416 pp., $17.95.

While Cameron Crowe's wonderful but fictional Almost Famous told a sanitized story of music-journalist-meets-bands in the '70s, Former New Musical Express writer Nick Kent's memoir is a warts/coke spoons/social disease-and all tale of the same era.

And know this: Nick Kent had more fun by age 24 than you will during your entire life.

His fascinating eyewitness accounts include musical (but mostly non-musical) recreational pursuits with a who's who of '70s rock: Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Brian Wilson, The Sex Pistols, Chrissie Hynde (with whom he had a romantic relationship), favorite running/drugging buddy Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Rod Stewart and a string of others.

In fact, Kent is something of a Zelig of the period, popping up just about everywhere a guitar chord is struck or a line of blow laid out; a subplot of the book is Kent's own long heroin addiction and what it reduced him to.

He's also not afraid to spout his own opinions, whether it's an ingrained hatred for the music of Jethro Tull or his scoffing at the after the fact "romanticism" of the Sid and Nancy relationship.

Still, Kent worked for one of England's largest music papers during the golden era of music journalism, where interviewing a band didn't mean 15 minutes on the phone with a publicist listening in, but hanging out with a group for three days, partying, and being part of some amazing musical moments. It's an access that writers will never see again.

It was also more dangerous - Kent and his scribe cohorts' words carried real weight, and he was both chain-whipped by Sid Vicious for his work and supposedly had the Bee Gees looking to kick his ass.

Of a less glamorous side, he also caught crabs from sleeping on a filthy mattress in a squatter's room that Lemmy from Motörhead led him to.

An eminently readable and rollicking ride, Apathy for the Devil - the title comes from Dylan's take on the late '70s Stones) is a great read. Kent's hero, and Almost Famous cameo, Lester Bangs would be proud.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero