Rockers and Rollers: An Automotive Autobiography by Brian Johnson
|Rockers and Rollers: An Automotive Autobiography by Brian Johnson|
|Reviewer: John Van der Kiste|
|Summary: A collection of short pieces in which the AC/DC vocalist reminisces about his lifelong passion for cars.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: October 2009|
|Publisher: Michael Joseph|
Brian Johnson will probably go down as one of the luckiest men in showbiz. He had a brief moment of glory in the early 70s as vocalist with Geordie, a Tyneside version of Slade, who had three Top 40 hits and then fell on hard times. After going back to the day job, a chance call invited him to go and audition for AC/DC, whose vocalist Bon Scott had suddenly died. Three decades later, not only have the group held on to their loyal fanbase, but one of their albums, according to an online source, is second only to Michael Jackson's Thriller in terms of global sales.
However, this isn't really an autobiography. It's not quite the book I was expecting after reading the blurb, and despite what the publicity says, there is very little about the cloth-capped feller's rock'n'roll career in it. This is more a kind of Jeremy Clarkson with added northern grit selection of essays, or as he is honest enough to admit at the start, an exercise in fun and self-indulgence. It's basically a book of short articles in apparently random order, recalling his passion for cars, those he has owned, those he has driven, ridden or raced in, those he has sometimes fallen through the bottom of because they were little more than rust buckets with seats, and those he has had an intimate encounter with the young and willing of the opposite sex in.
It's all very lighthearted, laddish stuff, the kind of book which might have carried a language warning sticker not so many years ago. You won't learn much from it, but I don't think that was the author's intention. I read it from cover to cover, but it could be just as easily dipped into at random in a spare few minutes.
In fact, it will probably appeal much more to what he calls 'petrolheads' than heavy metal fans. Ever since he was given a steering wheel which he put between the pillows on his bed for a game as a small boy, he has lived and loved cars, says he has bought every issue of various motoring magazines since 1980, and keeps them all in his office. He has some very funny stories to share and a few excruciating jokes, some of which you may have heard before (like the one about the flocked wallpaper). For instance, how did fellow Tynesider Brendan Healy end up with a police car in his garage by mistake? He also tells us not only about his favourite cars, but favourite car songs, car films and TV – rest assured the classic moment from Fawlty Towers with John Cleese beating the hell out of an obstinate 1100 Estate is mentioned, as are the classic movies Genevieve and School for Scoundrels.
All in all, it is fun, but don't expect too much.
Our thanks to Michael Joseph for sending us a copy for review.
If you enjoy this, why not also try Car Fever: Dispatches From Behind The Wheel by James May.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Rockers and Rollers: An Automotive Autobiography by Brian Johnson at Amazon.com.
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