It’s easy to forget in these days where music journalism has been reduce to sound bites and amusing lists, banal questions about fashion or 3 minute TV interviews designed not to offend the viewing publics short span of attention that there was a time when music journalists were as famous as the artists they wrote about. Certainly in the British music press anyway and that time was the 1970’s. In the US you had the Dylan fixated Robert Christgau and the maverick oddball Lester Bangs, on this side of the water there was the subversive Mick Farren, the acerbic Charles Shaar Murray and perhaps the most notorious of them all, Nick Kent.
Apathy For the Devil, his quote from a less than positive statement about the production rate of The Rolling Stones, charts his life in that decade from aspiring journalist to friend of the stars and back down to barely functioning drop out. The book follows a linear narrative, year by year with Kent filling in the back-story and parts of his 60’s formative years by way of asides and insights between the anecdotes. It begins with a veritable baptism of fire with an eye opening Rolling Stones concert and barley takes it’s foot off of the peddle for a page.
It covers adventures with the aforementioned Stones and legendary partying with Keith Richards in particular, his sojourn to seek advice from his Guru, Lester Bangs, hanging out with Bowie, his volatile relationship with Chrissie Hynde and his fall from grace and mauling at the hands of the punk movers and shakers. It also tells of his decline though drugs from astute and musically literate dandy about town to heroin casualty living off of press meeting lunches and selling review copies of records.
As the subject matter may suggest it wanders between the highs and lows of this world of polar opposites, from the jet set life following rock stars around and attending album launches to burning out in squats, from the penning of insightful articles that NME readers of the day awaited with baited breath to barely being able to get published. It is as illuminating as it is harrowing, as glitzy as it is trashy. It shows the music business for what it was then a diamond crown sitting on a rubbish heap and Nick Kent was right at the heart of it.