Amazon UK reviews
Excerpt from the book

Ain’t Life A Bastard!

36 Years of Musical Mayhem
by Eddie Hardin

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"Engrossing and frank account, pungently-titled and entertaining" - Record Collector
"A thrilling book" - Good Times Magazine
"Highly readable and humorous" - Playing Out Loud

Winchester writer Oliver Gray worked with Eddie Hardin on this most bizarre of rock autobiographies. All those many people who enjoyed Oliver's previous books, ‘VOLUME’ and ‘V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N.’, will love this one!

The fledgling Hammond organ player and singer Eddie Hardin was just seventeen when he passed the audition to replace Steve Winwood in the Spencer Davis Group. His life, from that moment on, could never again be "normal", but even by rock and roll standards, Eddie has seen and done it all.

“Standard” rock biographies specialise in lengthy musical analyses and track-by-track album reviews, plus the customary doomy tales of drug-fuelled excess and shady business shenanigans. But this is not your “standard” rock biography. With an irrepressible sense of fun, Eddie prefers to concentrate on the sheer madness of life in this most unreal of professions. Be careful if reading ALAB on a train, since your laughter may well disturb your fellow travellers' mobile phone conversations.

Read how Eddie:
- played the NME Poll Winners' concert at the Albert Hall at the age of seventeen
- caused numerous riots in German venues during the Sixties and Seventies
- befriended Judy Garland's daughter Lorna Luft
- played the final night of Hamburg's Star Club
- upstaged Todd Rundgren and the New York Dolls at the New York Waldorf
- witnessed drummer Tony Newman setting fire to his testicles in a pub
- built a brick wall down the middle inside his mansion during a marital dispute
- drank Paul McCartney's last beer
- got into numerous scrapes with the likes of Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Ian Gillan, Keith Moon, Christine Perfect and even Cliff Richard (whom he characterizes as a "God Botherer"). Plus, of course, the inimitable Spencer Davis!
- made a million and lost it again
- was given weeks to live if he didn't curb his alcoholic excesses
- finally found love and contentment and came to terms with his "life on the road"

REVILO, P.O.Box 71, Winchester, SO21 1ZE UK
Tel/Fax 01962-714520
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Sitting at Stansted waiting for the early morning flight is no great place to start reading autobiography. And I never ever read autobiographies. But this insight into the pop culture of a band which was only on the fringes of my experience kept me occupied and entertained all the way North and all the way back South again.

You don't have to have been there, this is a piece of history for everyone remotely interested in pop, 'progressive', all those famous names who are still around after what seems lifetimes in the public eye. You don't have to be like my German friend who spent 13 hours on the grass waiting for his 4th Rolling Stones concert in 6 days.

No, this is a book for anyone, anywhere, looking for some fun, insight, understanding, written both with sensitivity and a sense of Life, Energy and Fun.

(Anonymous reader)

January 22, 2005

Worth it, I'm tellin ya! Just a quick write to say I enjoyed this read. Whilst not exactly as slickly crafted as Volume by Oliver Gray, you can't ignore the fact that our hero in ALAB rock and rolled his way around the world and the music industry. Still out there and letting the general pubic still enjoy his work, ALAB is a neat celebration of a man not afraid of buying a round.

(Tom Oldham, Brighton, E.Sussex)

Engrossing And Frank Account

Having spawned one wunderkind, The Spencer Davis Group adopted another after Steve Winwood left in 1967. From A Wild Uncertainty, also-rans of London's club scene, seventeen-year-old Eddie Hardin's worth lay in his familiar Ray Charles-with-a-hernia voice and a keyboard dexterity born of piano lessons from earliest youth, paid for by a father who supported his aspirations with a pragmatic zest that other parents might have thought excessive.

Next, Eddie and Group drummer Pete York teamed up - as "Hardin and York: the world's smallest big band". Among an ageing Boy Wonder's later activities were an album with Zak Starkey; his emergence as a colossus of New Age music, and re-enlistment with Davis, writer of the foreword to this pungently-titled and entertaining life story.

With Oliver Gray - himself, an adept auto-biographer - Hardin has fleshed out known professional fact with gripping personal detail - like a protracted battle against alcoholism during the obligatory "wilderness years" - celebrity encounters, exemplified by him unzipping himself in an adjacent urinal to Charlton Heston; opinionated swipes at such as The Honeycombs (who, he reckons, "had absolutely no right to be in charge of any musical instruments") - and a deafening silence about certain matters that illuminates the backstairs of pop as surely as if he had actually betrayed confidences and named names.

Alan Clayson, Record Collector, June 2004


Our next port of call was New York, for years a favourite stamping ground of the Spencer Davis Group. Charlie was straight off to the Irish sector for darts and Guinness and the rest of us to all the clubs we could remember. Smithers had other ideas. Within hours of our arrival he had located the biggest and best parties in town, so our first week was pretty full. The first event he had arranged was the Decadence Ball at The Waldorf Astoria, the biggest and maybe best hotel in New York. The Waldorf party was, without doubt, a serious highlight. The music was courtesy of The New York Dolls, a band that defies description other than to say they were drastically awful but, mercifully, practically un-noticed, certainly by us.

Getting into the party was difficult as it was a very trendy New York event. Spencer, the 'name' amongst us, was rejected from every possible entrance and exit to and from the Waldorf though Charlie, by this time remarkably merry, seemed to breeze in and out of everywhere unchallenged. I was to accompany Charlie on this evening!!

The entire ballroom area of the hotel, and indeed most of the ground floor, was littered with the most outrageous selection of people I had ever seen. There were naked men, naked women and people in fancy dress to the most incredible extremes. Smithers, always one to milk any situation, had gone to every effort to become an extrovert New York partygoer. He had rented a Mad Hatter outfit for the evening. The rest of us didn't bother, other than Charlie, who always wore a Tam O'Shanter for his more liquid excursions. Not quite aware of where the hub of the party was, Charlie and myself went into the lift. I'm still not quite sure why, however, we arrived at floor whatever, to be greeted by the bride and groom at some massive wedding reception in a palatial suite.

By this time, Charlie was having the greatest of difficulty in walking, yet alone communicating with the happy couple's family, who seemed totally baffled as to who or what we were though felt obliged to offer us every hospitality and ushered us to the buffet... and the bar. Charlie downed several impressive measures of Jack Daniels, toasting everyone at the same time in a confusing mixture of Irish and gibberish. Not to appear outwardly greedy, he pocketed what remained in the bottle and, leaving the wedding party totally confused, we set off towards the lift again, not, however, before Charlie had offered the bride what he considered some sympathetic advice on how she should handle her 'nuptials'. This proved to be even more embarrassing. Charlie was by now legless and with me acting as his sole support, we entered the lift only to be confronted by a group of elderly women with blue hair and varying couloured poodles. Upon seeing us, they scattered to the extremeties of the lift leaving myself and Charlie centre stage. Charlie's legs were 'rubberlike' ( this was a kind of 'trait' he had, he literally used to become rubberised) as he blew amazing rasberries in a circular motion whilst the women shielded their multi-coloured animals from the alcoholic spray. We arrived at a lower level where the party seemed to be in full swing.

Charlie burst from the lift to be confronted by a gay Julius Caesar accompanied by some gayer looking centurions. The main centurion, clearly sensing trouble, drew his rubber sword and dangled it threateningly at Charlie and myself. He was also wearing an impressive false nose which Charlie made an immediate grab for - unfortunately he made contact. Charlie drew back the nose some two to three feet, the poor centurion feared the worst. Pete York appeared on the scene and he and I clung to the vain hope that what promised to happen wouldn't. It did! The huge rubber nose smacked the centurion squarely between the eyes which then began to water profusely. Charlie was quite beside himself with joy, unaware of other centurions clutching their rubber swords, ready to spring to their friend's defence. Suddenly, burly men from all quarters of the lobby sprang into action to defer the affray and we were off yet again down the corridors.

Manoeuvring through the corridors of the Waldorf, we came upon Smithers, already with half his rented 'Mad Hatter' outfit missing and complaining bitterly about the distinct possibility of losing his deposit in the morning. More rasberries were blown and off we went in search of the next encounter. Pete York approached from another direction, he had it seemed, struck up a serious relationship with a girl he introduced as Victoria Viper who lit up from head to toe in those christmas tree lights, while dry ice billowed from the heels of her shoes. This was no normal party!!!

By now it must have been 3 am and as we re-assembled in the main ballroom; Todd Rundgren was about to perform. He was introduced by a New York know-nothing DJ as Mr. Ted Rutkin. Todd played solo piano and looked like he wished he wasn't there and by now I kind of wished I wasn't. Smithers burst into the ballroom wearing all that remained of his Mad Hatters outfit - a cane and underpants. He was still unattached but like all of us, totally confused as to the likely gender of anyone at the 'do' so he began detailed anatomical research into the likelihood of the various sexes.

He asked what he thought was a woman to dance with him and they joined the heaving dance floor. At the end of the 'dance' the floor cleared to reveal a solitary Smithers, cane in hand and underpants almost intact, lying on the floor. Even the hardened New York set were beginning to wilt by now, but not our Charlie!!

Waiters were still ferrying drinks by the trayful, mostly to Charlie, when he playfully tripped one of them up. The guy balanced and twirled around with the stacked tray for a bloody long while before he gave up the ghost and threw the lot to the floor. Things, I'm afraid , were all going this fast...

At this point, I saw a stunning looking woman wearing a sprayed-on leopard skin outfit, chained to yet another girl. Her attire was so mind-boggling that she deserved another look and I was amazed to recognise her as the daughter of a Sotheby's representative whom I had previously met through my brother on our last visit to New York. She looked so frighteningly good that at first I daren't speak to her though eventually I did and our 'friendship' was re-started.

Time wise, I don't know where we were at this point, only that Charlie was intent on carrying on. He suggested we go on to a club - 'Your Grandfather's Moustache' - in Greenwich village. We got out of the Waldorf and while hailing a cab, saw Spencer who was STILL trying to get in!!!

Charlie thought he knew the best route to the club and decided to sit up front with the cab driver. Now NY taxis have very small partitions and Charlie was very large so, needless to say, he got stuck halfway, with myself and the driver undecided whether to pull him backward or forward. Eventually we got him through one way or the other and the guy dropped us off, me standing and Charlie lying on the pavement. Actually getting into the club was a tricky business, I was the only sober one and as the metal grill of the club door slid open, the guy behind the door was faced with me looking in and Charlie on the pavement looking up. Anyway, we got in.

Charlie insisted on a front row seat which he eventually staggered to, where we were confronted by a Dixieland jazz band. There were massive bowls of peanuts on every table which Charlie proceeded to throw down the bowl of the trombone. After a few choruses of god knows what, the poor guy's trombone had pretty well seized up. This caused great hilarity for Charlie though considerable embarassment for me, aside from which no one ever seems to hit a drunk!!

A few peanuts later we were thrown out. Still Charlie was not done, he then suggested going back to the Waldorf... which of course we did. By now it was pretty well daylight and the foyer was littered with bodies in all kinds of states. But The New York Dolls played on. We met up with Spencer who by this time had JUST got in. He'd missed all the ensuing chaos and was eating breakfast. Charlie was also in breakfast mood so ordered a large Tequila which eventually saw him temporarily off. Pete York had slid off to our hotel with Victoria Viper and the smoking shoes and Ray and myself were left with the job of manoeuvring Charlie through the early morning NY traffic.

What a bloody night it had been, and to make matters worse, we were playing that night at Madison Square with Genesis - this was not ideal!! We ordered another taxi from the Waldorf only for the cab driver to point to our hotel which was directly opposite. So we carried Charlie through the rush hour into the relative safety of our own hotel. We were all on the 25th floor and carrying a dead weight across a lobby past reception and into a lift is no mean feat. We got him in, after a fashion, but couldn't get him out. At the summit - the 25th floor, the doors opened, his upper body fell out though his legs remained in. Bells and lights started ringing and flashing and of course the next thing was hotel se-bloody-curity. They were pretty decent about the whole thing and helped me AND Ray carry Charlie to his room where after one final rasberry he collapsed. The tour continued for weeks, with Charlie continuing his liquid trail across America and Smithers becoming engaged to a total stranger…

Period newspaper clippings