"WILD THING: The Backstage, On the Road, In the Studio, Off the Charts Memoirs of Ian Copeland" by Ian Copeland

"WILD THING: The Backstage, On the Road, In the Studio, Off the Charts Memoirs of Ian Copeland"

Email this review


A tolerably diverting autobiography by a member of a minor music-industry dynasty, from juvenile delinquency in the Middle East to huge success as a booking agent for new wave bands. Copeland's father was a CIA agent involved in such high-level postwar skulduggery that President Nasser of Egypt became the author's godfather. Growing up in Beirut in the '50s and '60s, Copeland gravitated toward unsavory acquaintances, including an Armenian biker known locally as the King of Death. As a teenager he left home for London, hitchhiked back to Beirut, and finally headed to London again just in time to avoid being thrown into a Lebanese prison for a string of prank car thefts. After an army tour in Vietnam, Copeland entered the music business through the connections of his brother Miles, who started out managing prog-rock bands and later founded the maverick record label IRS. Copeland says he became a booking agent because his lack of money and musical ability disqualified him from every other job in the industry, but the arcane politics of arranging concert tours clearly delighted him. In the late '70s, Copeland smelled a revolution and invented the no-frills nightclub tour so that the mostly British punk and new wave bands could build an audience in the States. It's unlikely that anyone will dispute the credit Copeland takes for introducing America to A Flock of Seagulls, but he also helped launch the careers of Squeeze, R.E.M., and the Police, whose drummer was the third Copeland brother, Stewart. (Like his brothers, the author named his company in wry homage to his father's government career: Frontier Booking International, or FBI.) Copeland has had more than his share of unusual experiences and describes them with some wit, but as a booking agent, he can't provide enough of an inside look at bands and the world of rock to capture most readers.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1995
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster