Yeah, yeah, I know. This must be a work of fiction. After all, how could a roadie write a book when they can’t even read? The only reason most bands have roadies is to make the bassist and drummer look a little more capable as human beings.
But having said that… Joel Miller is either an exception to the rule, the rule is wrong (shock, horror), or he’s hired an incredible team of ghostwriters and editors. Because Memoir of a Roadie is simply too good otherwise. Now, I’ll be honest and say that I skimmed the book, cherry picking some stories here and there purely as it’s a fricking tome and I wanted to get a review done sometime before KISS actually finished their final tour and went home to their tongue-shaped swimming pools. Rest assured I’ll be going back to fill in the gaps as I get the time around running this site and so on.
Miller’s style is conversational and detailed, funny and honest. He pulls no punches, is self-deprecating and you just want to keep reading as you follow each of the (many) stories in here. It’s almost as if he builds each tale up with tension, like a joke which you know is going to have a punchline. It’s a great writing style, but it’s played havoc with my circulation as I’ve ended up sat on the loo (aka Dad’s sanctuary from the kids) reading it for too long at a session and got pins and needles in my legs.
It does take a while before the music-related tales kick in as we explore Miller’s childhood, rubbing shoulders with the Hollywood elite courtesy of his dad’s car business. A shady start as a student working in a dodgy call centre follows before a stint in the movie studios and a sideways step into the world of rock and roll. From there… no looking back.
There are so many bands and individuals name-dropped that it’s impossible to keep track after a while. Essentially if you’ve heard of them and they’ve played a large venue then they’re likely in here. Miller dishes the dirt but does it in an honest yet tongue-in-cheek way. He still comes across as a bit of a fanboy (in the nicest way) without gushing, and without appearing blasé. He doesn’t just talk about the acts, but the fans as well. The book comes across as as much of an observation of the music scene as a whole as it does a selection of stories about particular people within it.
It’s not all making coffee or picking the brown M&M’s out of 27 family packs to keep a lead guitarist happy. Our author has pretty much done every backstage job you can think of (and many you wish you hadn’t) and they’re all covered in the pages within.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable read and one you can get through a couple of pages at a time. Having said that, it’s too tempting to read just one more bit. And… just one more. And… shit, I should have been asleep an hour ago.
We don’t get too many books to review here, and it’s a shame as the ones we do get are generally good. This is very much one of them and it’s well worth picking up. Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to filling in the gaps that I skipped…
Memoir of a Roadie is out now on Kindle and in paperback