Book of the Week: Celeb-heavy trawl through monster's domain

Monster! True Tales from a

Show Biz Life

By Eric Hall

(Boxtree, pounds 12.99 hardback)

THE MOST astounding revelation in this book is that Freddie Mercury was daft about Eric Hall. Crazy. Head over heels. Monster soppy. So much so that he wrote "Killer Queen", the group's second single, for him. That line about having "long hair like Marie Antoinette"? Perhaps it should have read "long hair like Monster Antoinette."

In the end, Mercury cured himself of his lovesickness, according to Hall, by spending the night sitting by his bed watching him sleep. All this might seem a bit much to swallow, but then why should he lie about such matters? As Monster! traces the agent's progress from East End to West End, there's a Selig-like feel to proceedings. Just as Woody Allen's nondescript hero was FX-ed into all the most newsworthy events of the century, so Hall seems to have been a showbiz ever-present for 30 years.

He was childhood best friends with the young Marc Bolan (or Mark Feld, as he was then), and was nearly in the fatal car crash on Barnes Common. And there are detailed recollections of the last days of Tin Pan Alley, where Hall worked as a tea boy, spending his lunchtimes round a piano with young Reg Dwight and David Jones, who were to find rather more musical success as Elton John and David Bowie. Later, Hall fixed up the interview with Bill Grundy that thrust the Sex Pistols into the public arena.

After a chance meeting with Steve Perryman, Hall moved into football (perhaps that should read "moved in on football"), and rapidly (we are not told enough about how he built up his business) became the most famous agent in sport.

Let's be clear about this: from one perspective - the one enjoyed by the boss classes - agents are the most damaging blight on the modern game, a handy symbol for all things venal and tawdry. On the other hand, why shouldn't players, who were exploited for decades, enjoy the best professional representation? When David Pleat told Hall there was no need for him to broker Paul Walsh's move from Luton to Liverpool because he, Pleat, had already secured the best possible deal for Walsh, Hall, rightly, blew his top. You never hear his clients complain about him.

What could have been a fascinating account of the way in which agents have had such a profound impact is more a breezy, celeb-heavy trawl through the highlights of Hall's colourful career. So there's lots about the lovely Noelle Gordon, the lovely Tony Bennett, the late, great Frank Sinatra, the lovely Dorothy Squires and Barbara Windsor, even "the lovely" Alan Ball, which is stretching things a bit. But irritating though Hall's bumptiousness can be, it's impossible not to smile at his fizzing energy.

There are one or two mistakes - it was Tommy James and the Shondells, not the Chantells, who hit No 1 with "Mony Mony", for example, while I always thought the Jewish dish was "gefilte fish", not "gefiltafish". But the whole thing speeds by in 210 pages and 40 chapters - which reminded me of seeing the Ramones do 27 songs in 45 minutes.

I would have liked to have counted the number of name-drops in the book, the number of "monsters", the number of "ishes". That will have to wait for the Eric Hall concordance, sadly...

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders