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Summary

For fans of music books from David Hepworth, Pete Paphides, Bob Stanley and Craig Brown, as well as thought-provoking human interest stories like Moondust by Andrew Smith, and books by Jon Ronson, Louis Theroux and Stuart Maconie.

A quirky, thought-provoking look at the curious afterlife of pop stars.

Nick Duerden has spent many years interviewing the most famous musicians on the planet. Without exception, they are at their most interesting when they've peaked, and when they are on their way down. In many ways, this is when these former idols are at their most heroic, too, because they reveal themselves not only to be humane and sensitive, but also still driven to create, to fulfil their lingering dreams, to refuse to live quietly. 

Some sustain themselves on the nostalgia circuit. Others continue to beaver away in the studio, no longer Abbey Road so much as the garden shed. The desire for adulation is a light that never goes out. We live in a culture obsessed by the notion of fame—the heedless pursuit of it, the almost obligatory subsequent fallout. But what's it like to actually achieve it, and what's it like when fame abruptly passes, and shifts, as it does, onto someone else?

These are tales of heroin addiction, bankruptcy, depression, divorce—but also of optimism, a genuine love of the craft, humility and hope. All of which makes Exit Stage Left a fascinating, laugh-out-loud funny and often shocking look at what happens when the brightest of stars fall down to earth.

Featuring brand-new interviews with the likes of: Bob Geldof, Shaun Ryder, Robbie Williams, Roisin Murphy, Stewart Copeland, Billy Bragg, Wendy James, Alex Kapranos, Joan Armatrading, Leo Sayer, Gary Lightbody, Lisa Maffia, Tim Booth, Bill Drummond, Rufus Wainwright, David Gray and Justin Hawkins.

©2022 Nick Duerden (P)2022 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

Critic reviews

"Exit Stage Left is the book I've long wanted to read about the PTSD-like after-effects of pop stardom—and Nick Duerden is the perfect writer for the job. The pop star's bittersweet lot—the mass adoration that comes with pop stardom, followed by the bathetic comedown of what inevitably follows—is represented with flair and empathy." (Pete Paphides, author of Broken Greek)

"Fame is the brightest candle, but in this brilliant collection of interviews, Nick Duerden answers the question: what does a candle do after it's burned out?" (David Quantick)

What listeners say about Exit Stage Left

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Thoughly enjoyable

Well worth a listen if you're a fan of 80/90s pop/rock music. Well narrated, funny and interesting.

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Compulsive Listening

Nick Duerden has opened the mine to a very rich seam and, as much as I loved this book, I also wanted more. No doubt he was constrained by those who volunteered to speak to him and those who denied him access. Plus there were some great artistes who got away from him - no doubt due to a range of reasons such as death eg the wonderful Mark Hollis. Why did he retire? Why did he die? And I had always wondered what happened to Terence Trent D'arby. Now that I know, I wish I didn't. Some questions don't need answering. All in all it is a fascinating insight into fame and its aftermath. The section on Adam Ant is very poignant. Essential for anyone interested in the music industry and what happens when the spotlight moves on.

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Schadenfreude? Sort of....

If you've lived and loved pop since the 80's (Guilty, as charged, M'Lud) then the trials and tribulations of Terence Trent D'Arby, Suzanne Vega, Robbie Williams, Kevin Rowlands and a whole host of other talents (Don McLean was, apparently a very VERY angry younger man) on fame's downhill slope is for you. Duerden (Ex-Q magazine) is a good writer who gives the interviewees the space to explain where they / the record company etc. lost the plot. Sometimes it's the usual suspects (drugs, ego), sometimes it's something else. It's well narrated, even if the "American" accent used for ALL of the U.S. subjects does get a bit wearying. To these ears, at least.