Today, I’m reviewing a non-fiction, music industry memoir by Vicky Hamilton, titled Appetite for Dysfunction: A Cautionary Tale. If you love rock ‘n’ roll and grew up in the 80s, you’ll enjoy this book and this review.
Title: My Appetite for Dysfunction
Author: Vicky Hamilton
Published: May 03, 2016
Genres: Memoir, autobiography, music, non-fiction
Blurb: Appetite For Dysfunction is a self-exploratory journey through Vicky’s life. A small town girl who risks everything by dropping out of art school, leaving behind the safety of loved ones and small town values, and making her way to Hollywood. When Vicky arrived, she landed a job as a mere record store clerk, to then miraculously find herself deep in the trenches of an unscrupulous, male dominated, music entertainment business, and blossomed into Hollywood’s most controversial A&R woman and band manager. Vicky followed her dream and achieved it. She became the top female record company executive and personal band manager. Only to reach her aspirations while working with Guns N’ Roses, to then take on the most coveted A&R position to date at Geffen Records, under David Geffen himself.
Hamilton brings to this book her unbiased observations and shrewd glimpses about who these rock stars and executives are at the core of their beings, and about herself, as well. She expresses her gratitude for her historic past and her accomplishments, as well as her own shortcomings along the way. She shares her victories, her mistakes, the horror stories, and her dark comedic approach to “making it” in the entertainment business.
Being a music junkie, and loving the biographies, autobiographies and memoirs by women in the inner-circle, whether groupies, WAGS, musicians, or industry professionals, and having grown up in the 80s, I knew the author’s memoir was a must-read for me. So I downloaded a copy from Kobo.
The opening chapter is like most memoirs and puts you in a dramatic scene. For the author, this was trying to get Guns N Roses to their record signing, but Axl Rose (lead singer for the band) wasn’t going until he found his contact lenses.
I must give my hats off to the author for putting up with a lot of (not all) immature musicians. In her memoir, she details managing the following bands before they hit the big-time. It was Vicky who enabled them to get records deals: GnR, Poison, Stryper, Salty Dog, Faster Pussycat, etc. And some (not all) were ungrateful jerks about it.
I enjoyed reading about the author’s background in Indiana. And wow, she had it tough. But she was determined. I really liked her determination. She wasn’t letting anything hold her back. And I liked her professional stance (no sleeping with musicians, but she did “oops” a couple of times LOL).
She gives a very detailed account of the 80s Sunset Strip. Being a teen in this era, I gobbled up everything she had to say. And since she was an industry professional, it was awesome to get a peek at how the music business works, from securing record deals and putting together showcases to promotion and networking. I can understand why she was on the phone so much. My hats off to these people who didn’t have the technology we have now and their ability to get the deals secured with limited resources.
I also enjoyed her spiritual experiences she regales us with throughout the book. She’s a deep individual and it was nice to get a peek into her personal side and beliefs.
I did want to shake the author a few times because she was too nice. To paraphrase David Geffen, “Quit playing the victim, Vicky.” She did many times. She had so much strength and sometimes she failed to put it to use. If she’d been tougher, she could have gone further in her career. Instead, she got derailed by what seems to tank the majority of people in the music biz: drugs and alcohol.
The pacing did slow down during the last ¼ of the book. She also glossed over her family in the later chapters, which I wish I could have heard more of, because family is family, and they impact our lives, not only in childhood/adolescence, but as adults, too.
All in all, this was a great read. I wasn’t disappointed at all. And it’s a long read at over 300 pages. But the first ¾ of the book, you have no idea how many pages you’re reading. It’s the last ¼ that makes you wish the book would end. Still, I recommend Appetite for Dysfunction. Do yourself a favour and purchase a copy at Kobo, or wherever you buy your books. The memoir is available everywhere online.
Have you read Appetite for Dysfunction? If so, do you agree with my review? If not, are you willing to give the book a try?