Jon Hotten: My Life And The Beautiful Music

California dreaming.

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It only seems five minutes ago that Jon Hotten undertook work experience at Kerrang! magazine as the art editor’s ‘lackey boy’, but his timing was perfect. These were the over-the-top 1980s and Kerrang!’s pages were full of the big-haired, big-mouthed likes of Mötley Crüe, Poison, Van Halen… Slave Raider, even. A fertile hunting ground for any budding rock journo worth his salt.

Set in Los Angeles in 1988, My Life And The Beautiful Music is an off-kilter, part-autobiographical account of the hedonistic Hollywood rock scene of the time. Hotten, who broke the legendary Nikki Sixx/Matthew Trippe doppelgänger story, uses this as a springboard for all kinds of surreal musings.

Mysterious female characters – Iris, Brenna, Lana – flit in and out of the narrative, as does a wayward photographer clearly modelled on the late, great Ray Palmer. Hotten himself cuts a curiously detached figure, as if he’s observing events through a gauzy lens.

An odd book, then, but weirdly compelling all the same. And certainly a step up from Letrasetting Krusher’s headlines./o:p

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.