A memoir of the music business from a manager who worked his way up from the mailroom to managing world-class acts.
With the help of collaborator Goldsher (My Favorite Fangs: The Story of the Von Trapp Family Vampires, 2012, etc.), Weisner dishes the dirt on 50 years in the music business. It’s a strange collection of anecdotes, ranging from the poignant (an 8-year-old piano prodigy serenading Beyonce Knowles at a benefit) to the outright bizarre (a profanity-laden threat to Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner over the publication of an unflattering photograph). Other superstars praise the producer—the book includes short memories penned by the likes of Gladys Knight, Steve Winwood and Quincy Jones—but there’s also plenty of vitriol. While venting about most members of the Jackson family, especially patriarch Joe, Weisner reserves fondness for the late Michael, whom he stewarded through the height of his career and about whom he shares previously unknown stories (who knew the inspiration for Michael’s uniforms came from punk-pop star Adam Ant?). Upon seeing the fading star just days before his death, the author writes, “He had that look in his eyes, a look I’ve seen too many other times in my life, a look of resignation, a look that said, It’s over, and it broke my heart, because up until things headed south in the early 2000s, he had it all.” Others earn less charitable plaudits—Lauryn Hill is labeled a “whack-job” for her behavior during the 2005 BET Awards. Weisner is particularly harsh about Madonna’s behavior during a Venice video shoot: “Every time we packed up the cameras, she bitched. Every time we got into a boat, she bitched. Every time she had to wait for setup, she bitched.”
A matter-of-fact epilogue with advice for up-and-coming stars is sensible, but the book’s gossipy, annoyed attitude threatens to disenfranchise all but the most cynical fans.