Today, I’m reviewing Anything for a Hit by Dorothy Carvello, an autobiography about an A&R rep in the music industry who gives the inner-scoop about its many dealings and secrets.
Title: Anything for a Hit
Author: Dorothy Carvello
Length: 240 pages
Genres: Non-Fiction, Music Industry, Autobiography, Memoir
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Blurb: Dorothy Carvello knows all about the music biz. She was the first female A&R executive at Atlantic Records, and one of the few in the room at RCA and Columbia. But before that, she was secretary to Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic’s infamous president, who signed acts like Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin, negotiated distribution deals with Mick Jagger, and added Neil Young to Crosby, Stills & Nash.
The stories she tells about the kingmakers of the music industry are outrageous, but it is her sinuous friendship with Ahmet that frames her narrative. He was notoriously abusive, sexually harassing Dorothy on a daily basis. Still, when he neared his end, sad and alone, Dorothy had no hatred toward him—only a strange kind of loyalty.
Carvello reveals here how she flipped the script and showed Ertegun and every other man who tried to control her that a woman can be just as willing to do what it takes to get a hit. Featuring never-before-heard stories about artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Steven Tyler, Bon Jovi, INXS, Marc Anthony, Phil Collins, and many more, this book is a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered what it’s really like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry.
As soon as I saw the title of the book and read the blurb, this memoir was an instant buy for me. I’m a die-hard fan of women in the music industry. It doesn’t matter if the woman is a rocker, a rocker’s wife/girlfriend, a manager, a groupie, or as Dorothy soon became, an A&R rep.
First, I liked how the book opened and closed. Very appropriate. A sound beginning and a just as sound ending.
As for the meat of the story, it was pretty savoury and juicy. She doesn’t hold back and lays it all out for the world to see. She has a great voice that made me think of someone telling you the story over of a cup of tea while sitting across from each other. She isn’t chatty. Her narrative takes you into her world and you view it through Dorothy’s eyes as you walk the halls of Atlantic Records, Geffen Records, Beverly Hills, Brooklyn, New York City, and every other place that Dorothy has been.
You also meet the players through her eyes. And some of the players were very outrageous, cruel, self-preserving, and selfish. It’s an ambitious world she’s in, and everyone, but not all, are doing what they can to amass more women, money, material wealth, power, prestige, or whatever else they want.
As for Dorothy, all she wants is to find a hit, discover a star, earn some respect, and be a part of the music industry. Some men do help her while others do everything to bury her. And because of Dorothy’s upbringing, she simply takes it. I felt for her many times because she was climbing the music ladder during the late 70s and into the 80s. This was a difficult time for her, but she fought hard for what she wanted.
I also liked how she took responsibility for her own part that she played in what was part dream and part nightmare. She’s a brutally honest woman, with herself and others.
There were a few lags in the book where I did find myself trying not to skim over the pages. Some details I felt weren’t really necessary, but I guess Dorothy felt they must be told.
All in all, this is an excellent read. If you like music (especially rock ‘n’ roll), and love digging deep into the industry and how it works, you’ll enjoy what Dorothy has to say. Do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy. I bought mine at Kobo.
Do you enjoy memoirs/autobiographies/biographies about the music industry? Having read my review, would this interest you in reading Dorothy’s book?