Nick Kent: The rock journo who became the story
Apathy for the Devil will have plenty to talk about at the Book Festival
This article is from 2010.
‘When you get right down to it, the memory is a deceitful organ to have to rely on,’ reflects notorious rock scribe Nick Kent in the opening lines of his memoir, Apathy for the Devil. But even Kent’s near-fatal rock’n’roll lifestyle couldn’t wholly obliterate memories like these: the man who out-partied Keith Richards has been attacked by Sid Vicious, rescued by Iggy and heart-broken by Chrissie Hynde.
If Apathy recounts and contemplates the iconic rock writer’s run-ins with stars such as Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin and David Bowie in the 70s, so too does it offer a cautionary tale. Employed by the NME alongside the likes of Charles Shaar Murray, Paul Morley and Julie Burchill in its ‘golden’ era (it shifted 300,000 copies a week; compared to 38,000 today), Kent pursued the conceits of ‘personality journalism’ and method-writing to their extremes. He became the story. Long-term drug addiction, ill-health and homelessness ensued.
He’s long recovered, moved to Paris, had kids, got wed and found religion, but Kent can still conjure a lively rhetoric force, and he’s certainly not short on anecdotes, (or accurate memories, he claims), with which to thrill and appal the Book Festival. Perhaps he’ll reminisce about his days as a Sex Pistol; or Keith Moon’s flying-leap at him through a window; or his name-check on a b-side by Adam and the Ants. Or maybe he’ll read excerpts from The Dark Stuff, his seminal compendium of rock-crit and narrative. Whatever her does, his words remain singular and reliable.
27 Aug, 8.30pm, £10 (£8).