Book Review

Salad Daze: A Man on a Mission

Author: Wayne Hussey

Publisher: Omnibus

Price: £16.99

Associated with a wide variety of bands such as Dead Or Alive, Sisters of Mercy and The Mission, Paul Rigby reviews Wayne Hussey’s autobiography

Resplendent in Forwards from both Gary Numan and Iggy Pop, this new autobiography examines Mr Hussey and does so at a gentle pace and in some considered depth. We don’t even get to the Dead Or Alive association until p.176 of this 350 page tome, never mind his arguably more significant musical achievements later on. Salad Daze is no book of headlines. It’s not a gossip rag. Neither is it a ‘I said to him and he said to me’-type release. What Hussey does here is, well, take his time. He mooches through this story and smells a few roses. Whether that’s expressing his undying love (aged five) for the alien-esque figure of Marina from Gerry Anderson’s Stingray children’s puppet series (a favourite of mine too, I might add), how he was almost presented for adoption, his mothers conversion to the Mormon faith or his penchant for a quick game of bingo.  

His first performance was as part of a dance troupe at Colston Hall in Bristol in his last year at junior school. Movement of Free Expression, it was called, offering typical late-60s fare, “Thank God there’s no YouTube clip of that performance,” he shivered.

Hussey was “reborn”, at least in music terms in 1972 at the age of 13 or 14 when he first saw Marc Bolan on the BBC’s Top of the Pops TV show, miming the then No.1 single, Telegram Sam. It was also the time that he managed to obtain his first ‘hi-fi’, a blue Dansette. 

Salad Daze: A Man on a Mission

What comes through Hussey’s writing is his gentle humour. I say gentle, he can be hilariously cutting but he sidles up to his humour and never hits you over the head with it. His tales of early bands are cases in point.

And yes, he can drop a name or two just to vary the tone. Whether that’s engaging with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, then being blanked by the same, then being engaged by the same again (“He’s a funny bugger”) or meeting Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston backstage one time whereupon Pitt admitted that they bought T-Shirts at an earlier Mission gig. 

“Aw, right, D’you still have them?” asked Hussey.

“Nah, Jen and I used ‘em for dusters ages ago,” said Pitt.

Joining the Sisters of Mercy seemed to depend more on his skill at consuming drugs as opposed to how he handled a guitar. After he left the Sisters he co-founded The Mission and became the band’s lead singer.

As I progressed to the end of Salad Daze, I began to realise that Hussey was still in the band, Sisters of Mercy and, what about his time in The Mission then? The obvious answer is that this book is Part 1. Mission-related stories are to follow, it seems.

Salad Daze: A Man on a Mission

During Salad Daze, Hussey struggled and elbowed his way through band politics. His frustrations are there to see. You’ll learn a lot about the internal claustrophobia of band life and the relationships, anger, irritations and resentments triggered by the same. The vexations that such a ‘family’ can spawn, the moods you have to deal with and how to navigate in and around the controlled chaos of it all is quite an education. On a larger level, Hussey also rails against society’s demand that we all conform, that we play it safe and that we ‘make do’. To be good little drones.

The book itself works well with Spotify, would you believe. Hussey has set up playlists to be run before the commencement of each chapter, so there is an interactive element here.

Hussey gently pulls you into his story and produces an engaging book.

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