Monday 08 June 1998 23:02

LEONARD COHEN (Beautiful Losers) and Bob Dylan (Tarantula) both produced acclaimed volumes of writing, while last year Ray Davies used characters from Kinks songs as the basis for a novel. As well as more than a dozen dark, murderous albums with the Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds, Nick Cave has written a novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel. Captain Beefheart, the man with the vocal range of four and a half octaves, was a child art prodigy until he met Frank Zappa at high school. Since giving up his Magic Band, the Captain has returned to art, exhibiting widely under his real name, Don Van Vliet.

Musical novelists

ANTHONY BURGESS: The writer of A Clockwork Orange and Earthly Powers included a setting of Joyce's Ulysses among his compositions. A recent CD of his guitar music had critics reaching for the ear-plugs. The only novelist to cover himself in musical glory has been Paul Bowles. His first novel, The Sheltering Sky, didn't appear until 1949, by which time he had already written most of the 150 compositions, including two operas, that make up his oeuvre. He also helped to engineer the legendary meeting between Rolling Stone Brian Jones and the Pan Pipes of Joujouka.

Serious comics

BEN ELTON: writing novels and plays has increasingly displaced comedy as his core activity - no bad thing if his just-finished BBC series was anything to go by. He is joined in the league of comedians turned writers by Ardal O'Hanlon, David Baddiel and Rob Newman, along with Sean Hughes and Pauline Melville.

Oh, and then there's...

Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden singer, former member of the British fencing team and author of a science fantasy novel... Albert Camus, goalkeeper and intellectual... Damien Hirst, artist, video director, restaurateur ... Naomi Campbell, model and "novelist"... and the template, Brian Eno, singer, songwriter, composer, producer, avant-garde entrepreneur, performance artist, conceptual artist, thinker, seer, prophet...

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