Books

Get Lit: Miss O'Dell: My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and the Women They Loved by Chris O'Dell with Katherine Ketcham

In one of the most rollicking and enjoyable classic rock memoirs of recent years, Chris O'Dell offers scores of interesting first-hand experiences with a who's who of icons, as well as her own keen observations on their personalities even hardcore fans will find fresh.

But just who, you might ask, is Chris O'Dell? The lithesome blonde was nothing short of a rock and roll Zelig. A chance L.A. encounter with Beatles PR guru Derek Taylor in 1968 led to a job at Apple Corps during the waning days of the Beatles. From there, it was a dizzying 15-plus year ride that found her on Apple rooftop during the Beatles' final concert... working for the Stones during the Exile on Main Street era and doing a drug run for Keith Richards (on a plane to Houston, no less!)... helping run the circus that was Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue... and much more on tours with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Santana, Fleetwood Mac and Linda Ronstadt.

During all of this, O'Dell formed a deep and lasting friendship with Pattie Boyd, meaning she spent a lot of time confiding in, partying among, and living with her and husbands George Harrison (who wrote the song "Miss O'Dell" for her) and Eric Clapton, putting her in the epicenter of that well-documented, substance- and spiritual-fueled romantic turbulence.

And while she does 'fess up to bedding a bevy of big names - if only sometimes for a one-night stand (Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr and Leon Russell, who wrote "Pisces Apple Lady" and "Hummingbird" for her), don't mistakenly file this book under Groupie Lit. In most cases, O'Dell was either working for or a genuine friend of musicians and not just a Band Aid.

The bottom line is that, despite her own bottoming out with drugs and alcohol, Chris O'Dell has led a life that would many classic rock fans of either gender give up a decade of their own for. Well-written, interesting, and full of great stories and surprises, Miss O'Dell is worth bringing home to bed - even if only in the literary sense.

Touchstone Books, 416 pp., $26.

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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