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Book Review: ‘The Worst Gig: From Psycho Fans to Stage Riots, Famous Musicians Tell All’ by Jon Niccum

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The first thing to note about The Worst Gig From Psycho Fans to Stage Riots, Famous Musicians Tell All is that Jon Niccum is using the term “famous” rather loosely. While groups like Rush and INXS and artists such as Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper certainly are famous, many of the groups and artists included are indie artists or local heroes who will not be familiar to the average music fan.

However, this does not keep The Worst Gig from being a very quick and entertaining reading experience. Even the more obscure bands have some nearly unbelievable stories from the road to tell. From riots to trying to play major shows with food poisoning to adventures with broken-down vans and stolen equipment and many other bizarre events that happen to people who live their lives moving from gig to gig, the reader is enthralled and entertained by the dark side of musical stardom. Most of the tales are pretty tame. There are very few mentions of the musicians themselves behaving particularly badly.

Perhaps the best way to present stories about musicians is to allow the musicians to tell the stories themselves and this is what Jon Niccum has done here. He either culled the stories from years of phone interviews or had one or more participants write the story of their misadventures themselves. This gives the narratives immediacy and authenticity.

Do not expect anything deep here. The book  is short and has many photos and some of the stories are less than a page long. You can easily read this book in an hour. It would make a great present for any rock music fan who is not an avid reader and would appreciate a quick and often very funny look at the less glamorous aspects of life on the road.

As stated earlier, some of the choices of artists featured seem quite odd and this reviewer would have appreciated more well-known artists and less obscure groups, such as Screaming Sirens and New Duncan Imperials.

Still, the eye-catching layout and short tales make this an excellent coffee table book, bathroom reader or gift for a music fan.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.