The Last of the Bald Heads : A Memoir 2004 by Ferdia Mac Anna
This book was great fun, it made me laugh several times. At times it felt a bit like he had lived a Zelig like life in Dublin. One moment he’s a frustrated teenager up to no good. Next he’s watching the Boomtown Rats Clash, and then soon after, in the punk inspired nature of the times, he is fronting his own bands. First Rocky De Valera and the Gravediggers, and then the Rhythm Kings, running with the luminaries of the nascent Irish punk / indie scene.
There are several funny rock and roll wars stories, but the predominant theme is one of wry, humorous self depreciation. This is the theme consistently through the book. He goes on to work on the Late Late Show, meeting more famous people with funny and or interesting stories to tell about them. At first his own interview process to get onto the show seemed so unbelievable I thought it he was just exercising some poetic licence. However he later asks Gaye Byrne, why on earth he hired him after such a negative interview. Byrne explains he preferred to have someone who thought the show wasn’t great, as they might do something to make it relevant to younger viewers, rather than simply hiring a yes man.
The book also reminded me of Angelica Huston’s memoir too, both children of famous director dads. Growing up in big houses, with dad, the larger than life personality, often away in the ‘states working. Mac Anna spent his formative years running round the hills and back ways of Howth summit. As is often the case these days, you wonder if it’s possible to replicate a similar childhood for kids these days.
Without giving too much of the plot away, as well as being a rock star, writer, and tv producer, he also experiences massive health issues too, suffering from cancer and the affects of chemo too. All in all, with his funny, ‘I just happened to be there’, attitude, it makes it all a great read, and an everyman experience of what it was like to live through four decades of life in Dublin (mostly).
With the joys of youtube too, you can also see the band in action, the John Wayne one is pretty funny too!
It’s also interesting as an example of how the long tail may be coming into play. This book is a good read, but, only published 10 years ago, it is already out of print, unavailable on Amazon. The copy I read was retrieved from the store in Malahide library. For the author comes the opportunity to regain the publishing rights, create an ebook version of it, and sell it via his website. Hopefully all of this will come to pass, to keep him in the life style he’d like to become accustomed to!
Graduating from UCD first time around.