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David Hepworth – music journalist and writer, who has won numerous awards for his work, here presents a book which – as the subtitle suggests – catalogues the rise and fall of the rock star. Hepworth believes that there are no more bona fide rock stars; there are pop stars and other music stars, but rock stars were something else entirely (with the ‘rock’ part of the term not necessarily referring to that genre of music). And that something is a mystique, an allure that celebrities can no longer have in this age of social media, where nothing is secret and the smallest details of a star’s life becomes public knowledge almost immediately.

He charts this journey from 1955 to 1994, in an unusual and extremely readable way. Every year he takes a significant day from one rock star’s life, that had an effect not only on the person in question but on the world as a whole.

There are far too many to list, but all the major stars you would expect appear here: Dylan, The Beatles, The Stones, Bowie, Springsteen, Prince, Michael Jackson. And there are others – Bob Geldof (his day being Live Aid), Freddie Mercury (the day he died), Duran Duran (the making of the controversial Girls On Film video), Buddy Holly (also the day he died). Each chapter is short – less than 10 pages – and ends with a list of significant singles and albums from that particular year.

I found the book absolutely fascinating, and even when a chapter featured someone I am not particularly interested in, such is the writing that it made me interested. This book can either be read in huge chunks, or you can dip in and out of it, but whichever way you choose to read it, I highly recommend it to anybody interested in music and stardom.

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Based on a true story, A League of Their Own tells the story of the first female baseball league, which was started when many of the professional male baseball players were away fighting in World War II.  Tom Hanks plays Jimmy Duggan, a washed-up, alcoholic former professional player, who is given the job – which he doesn’t really want – of managing the Rockford Peaches team.  Geena Davis and Lori Petty play sisters Dottie and Kit, who have issues with jealousy, and who are both signed on to play for the team.  Other players on the league are portrayed by Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna, Bitty Schram, and others.  The story shows the league’s progress, from a game of little interest to outsiders, to a popular sport in its own right.

I really enjoyed this film.  All of the actors were perfect, especially Davis, Petty and Hanks.  There was a lot of comedy in the film, but it was also very moving in parts, and I actually did cry.  Baseball gave these women – and Jimmy Duggan – something to live for, and a sense of self-belief, which some of them desperately needed.  It also gave them a sense of camaraderie at a time when many of them had loved ones fighting overseas.  I loved how Jimmy was initially resentful of managing a girls team, but how he came to appreciate their talent, and want to fight their corner with them – his personal story was one of redemption, and I loved the character.

There are lots of baseball scenes in this film, but you do not need to like, or even really understand, the sport to enjoy it (although a basic knowledge of the game might help).

I waited a long time to watch the movie, because I was not sure that I would like it.  However, it gets a definite 10 out of 10 from me, and I do not intend to leave it that long before watching again.  Very highly recommended.

Year of release: 1992

Director: Penny Marshall

Producers: Penny Marshall, Elliot Abbot, Robert Greenhut, Ronnie D. Clemmer, Joseph Hartwick, Bill Pace, Amy Lemisch

Writers: Kim Wilson, Kelly Candaele, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel

Main cast: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, David Strathairn, Megan Cavanagh, Tracy Reiner, Bitty Schram

 

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