Myself For Fame
Consul Books, London, 1964
For David Cole, successful and still himself
dedication: For David Cole, successful and still himself
The blurb on the back:
Royston Ellis first became known to his thousands of readers as the 'laureate of the beatnik generation'. Probably no-one knows better the sometimes cruel methods by which a personality is shaped into a satisfactory image for the fans. In this novel his hero - fictional but based on a solid knowledge of the world he inhabits - is shown at the frenzied end of the needle with which they prised him from his roots.
White rock & roll was at its peak in about 1956-62: from, say, Gene Vincent's first single up to the emergence of The Beatles at the end, with the still horrifying loss of Buddy Holly halfway through. It's spent the last 40 years striving and failing to emulate the beauty and elegant simplicity of that initial burst of creativity. In a parallel case, stories about people becoming pop stars hit their peak early on and have been struggling to get back ever since. So here is the model on which Breaking Glass, Slade in Flame and the rest are based.
Royston Ellis was (still is) a gay poet and biographer who is said to have inspired The Beatles to write both 'Paperback Writer' and 'Polythene Pam'. In Myself For Fame he outlined every major theme of the small-town boy who gets seduced (literally) into the music business and finds that success doesn't always bring happiness:
Partly, the joy of the book is that the narrator - the farmhand turned pop star, Danny Gabriel - is an unpleasant little shit, and partly it's that everyone else he meets in the business is even worse. It's also one of the first books to accept that the industry is largely run by gay men.
And, quite apart from the sheer entertainment factor, this is as detailed an account of the pre-Beatles British music scene as you're going to get, from the nature of recording sessions through to the breakdown of weekly income and expenses when one has a hit record.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 4/5
visit Royston Ellis' website