Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of The Rock Stars (Hardcover)
Named one of the best music books of 2017 by The Wall Street Journal
An elegy to the age of the Rock Star, featuring Chuck Berry, Elvis, Madonna, Bowie, Prince, and more, uncommon people whose lives were transformed by rock and who, in turn, shaped our culture
Recklessness, thy name is rock.
The age of the rock star, like the age of the cowboy, has passed. Like the cowboy, the idea of the rock star lives on in our imaginations. What did we see in them? Swagger. Recklessness. Sexual charisma. Damn-the-torpedoes self-belief. A certain way of carrying themselves. Good hair. Interesting shoes. Talent we wished we had. What did we want of them? To be larger than life but also like us. To live out their songs. To stay young forever. No wonder many didn’t stay the course.
In Uncommon People, David Hepworth zeroes in on defining moments and turning points in the lives of forty rock stars from 1955 to 1995, taking us on a journey to burst a hundred myths and create a hundred more.
As this tribe of uniquely motivated nobodies went about turning themselves into the ultimate somebodies, they also shaped us, our real lives and our fantasies. Uncommon People isn’t just their story. It’s ours as well.
About the Author
David Hepworth is a music journalist, writer, and publishing industry analyst who has launched several successful British magazines. He presented the definitive BBC rock music program Whistle Test and anchored the coverage of Live Aid in '85. He has won Editor and Writer of the Year awards from the Professional Publishers Association and the Mark Boxer Award from the British Society of Magazine Editors. He is the radio columnist for the Guardian and a media correspondent for the newspaper, and the author of Never a Dull Moment.
Praise for Uncommon People
“[A] wonderful portrait of rock stardom . . . Hepworth’s writing is sublime.” —Daily Mail
“The effect is that of faded, evocative, partisan Polaroids scattered from the memory of one obsessive music fan . . . Uncommon People emerges as part of the drive to capture, analyse and archive key moments in musical history that might otherwise vanish from popular memory before we know it.” —Observer
“David Hepworth [is] one of the best music writers around . . . Thoughtful and stylishly told tales.” —David Lister, iNews
“The research in Uncommon People is fantastic and its fascinating detail will entertain even those who think they’ve read it all before . . . Hepworth’s knowledge and enthusiasm for music makes it a hugely enjoyable and informative reflection on the days when rock ruled the world . . . It feels like one of those evenings when you sit with your friends and talk about the music you love. Uncommon People leaves you with the same companionable glow.” —Express (UK)
“[A] zippily entertaining portrait of the men and women with flawed outsized personalities who . . . belong to a fallen age of rock stardom.” —Will Hodgkinson, The Times (London)
“[A] colourful, richly marinated survey of the phenomenon of the rock star between the mid-1950s and mid-1990s . . . Hepworth is, in many ways, a dream author. Not only does he know his stuff . . . but he is alert to broader social and cultural trends . . . [His] chapters yield something of the satisfaction of a sharply observed, neatly shaped short story.” —David Kynaston, The Guardian
“Marvellous . . . The age of the rock star is over, and Hepworth’s never-less-than fascinating book is a more than fitting farewell.” —Dylan Jones, GQ
“David Hepworth is such a clever writer . . . Uncommon People is a gorgeous read, celebratory and bittersweet, both pep rally and memorial, throbbing with insight and incident.” —Julie Burchill, Spectator
“This book is a kind of elegy for a glorious but passing phase in entertainment history . . . brims with insight, humour and a certain genial astringency.” —Stuart Maconie, Mail on Sunday
“The effect is that of faded, evocative, partisan Polaroids scattered from the memory of one obsessive music fan . . . Uncommon People emerges as part of the drive to capture, analyse and archive key moments in musical history that might otherwise vanish from popular memory before we know it.” —Barbara Ellen, The Guardian