I don’t often get the chance to review books, but when this one was sent to me a few weeks ago I thought it was worth giving it a spin. I read a lot of books, including many rock autobiographies and biographies. This is a compelling autobiography from Dire Straits’ ace bass player John Illsley. Along with Mark Knopfler, Illsley was one of the founding members of Dire Straits, who became one of the most successful British bands ever. Apparently, Geldof had asked them to headline Live Aid as in 1984/ 85 they were probably the biggest band on the planet. However, as they were booked to play Wembley Arena that night they went on a little earlier. Illsley sums that day up superbly in saying that he is glad they didn’t have to follow Queen. John describes his early years and how he came to find a career in music, which like many of his peers and successors was frowned upon by his parents, at least initially. The band came together in Deptford, South London and were so broke in the early days that they were living hand to mouth and picking up any gigs they could. They were finally able to record a demo tape which they managed to get to DJ Charlie Gillett who played “Sultans Of Swing” incessantly on his show, the rest, as they say, is history. Aside from his time in Dire Straits Illsley speaks in a brutally honest way about how that level of fame, success and the intensive recording and touring cycles destroyed some of his relationships. I really enjoyed this book and it definitely ranks among the best rock autobiographies that I have ever read. It is well written, open, honest, uplifting and incredibly interesting. It will be a great read for any music fans and not just fans of Dire Straits. It is out now, published by Diversion Books.
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