Real Life Books
Record Collector review transcript (image of original below)
4 stars (YAY!!!)
Biographer Nina Antonia has built her reputation on assiduously researched memoirs of rock’s most chemically-assisted stars. He credits to date including widely-acclaimed tomes such as Johnny Thunders… In Cold Blood and The New York Dolls: Too Much Too Soon. Originally published in 1996, The Only One is another evocative portrait of a complex, formerly opiate-blighted rock ‘n’ roll legend, though this new edition includes a revelaing, clear-headed contemporary interview with the book’s currently drug-free subject.
The One & Only is riveting stuff. Starting from Perrett’s privileged childhood, Antonia diligently charts the mercurial Only Ones frontman’s progress as he metamorphoses from quietly successful surburban dope dealer into decadent, critically lauded (though commercially misfiring) late 70s new wave icon, before eventually surrendering most of the 80s to a ferocious heroin habit.
Crucially, though, Antonia’s account never feels like a ghoulish glorification of rock’s dark stuff. Incorporating detailed anecdotes from all the bandmembers, the book also presents a well-balanced account of the Only Ones rollercoaster career, their three legend-enshrining albums and their stop-start reunion, which is yet to yield a new LP. At the story’s heart, however, is Perrett and wife Zena’s remarkable 45-year relationship, which still flourishes despite a shotgun wedding, multiple drug busts and even the loss of their beloved London home.