Keeping On

By James Kennedy

Failed rock stars have all the best stories... and even better lessons

Autobiography | Humour
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Publication date: Autumn 2020

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Being a winner is easy. It's being a failure that's hard. The tale that follows is not another cliched collection of Rock'n'Roll debaucheries (sorry) nor is it another tired fable of triumph over adversity (you're welcome). It's the story of how a half deaf kid from a tiny, remote village in South Wales came to be hailed as a 'genius' by the UK's biggest radio station and headhunted by major record labels. The following year, the music industry crashed – and it crashed hard, losing with it an entire generation of talented artists who would now never get their shot. CNN would later call it 'Music's lost decade'. This is the story of one of its survivors.

Along the way there will be goodies, baddies, gun toting label execs, life-saving surgeons, therapy, true love, loyalty, hope, breakdowns, suicidal managers, betrayal, drummers and way too many hangovers. It's a story about why you learn better lessons from good losers. Why it really is all about the journey. Why you really must do that thing, even though you're going to fail. Why motivational Self Help is bullshit. Why music is the best. And why in the end, it really was all rather simple.
Keeping On is part memoir, part exposé of the music world's murky underbelly and part collection of life lessons gained from many years of 'trying' but ultimately having to learn to live with defeat. Emotional, painfully honest, funny, informative and ridiculous, it takes the reader into the daily reality of a musician during the music industry's historic recent transformation - and is filled with digressions about society, politics and the human condition. It is also a celebration and a tribute to the life-saving magic that is music.

Other fun extras include 'How to get in the charts (it's easy!)', 'Secrets From My Therapy' and tips for emerging musicians ('Everything becomes f**ked when you start earning money').
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  • James Kennedy avatar

    James Kennedy

    'Mastermind Kennedy is more exciting than 90% of bands today' - Shout4Music

    From South Wales, James Kennedy is a professional musician with a Top 50 best-selling album, over a million song streams and over half a million online followers/ nutters, who call themselves 'Misfits'. Hearing impaired due to childhood surgery, James has become an ambassador for several hearing charities, as well as speaking on panels and writing articles on a wide range of issues including mental health, the music industry and politics. He has toured much of the world, featured in many mainstream music publications, owns the music company Konic Records and has a new solo album set for global release in late 2019. 'Keeping On' is his first book.

  • I know what you're thinking. 'Wow, another music book that opens with a hangover scene. Yawn.' But hear me out, this is not that story. And as far as hangovers go, it was a good one...

    With my brain begrudgingly getting its shit together, my first visual clue was the ceiling - just two foot above me and smeared in red clay and boot prints. To my immediate left, the dashboard of our poor, rented Transit van, again entirely smothered in sticky moist clay as if it had been appropriated by a tribe of hairy, grunting pre-historic Neanderthals – which it had. My last memory was of us innocently having a 'few quiet ones'.

    Full terrain scan. OK, so I slept in the front again. Gear stick in my back, I am fully clothed (sunglasses and boots still on) and the entire cabin, it seemed, is daubed in wet clay. Still; my stale, airless, cramped boudoir of despair and I have survived each other for another night.

    There was no sign of movement from the back, the other animals had yet to rise, so it was time to figure out what the actual fuck was going on and where the actual fuck I was. I'd taken to Gaffer taping used towels and dirty t-shirts over the windows as curtains and now it was time to peel them back and face the fear. Today was going to hurt.

    I emerged from my mobile cave, recoiling from the morning sunlight like a withering vampire, to see the entire contents of the van's cabin strewn all over the road; CD's, maps, clothes, technology, rubbish and empty beer cans. Ah, now I remember... France! We're in France! Now, the problem with living out of a van is that you have to do everything together. I couldn't explore the town and leave the other guys without a key, nor could I lock them in. And under NO circumstances could I wake them up! So I waited.

    It looks nice here! The sun is shining. It's green and idyllic. Oh and there's the boat we're playing on tonight! As to what happened last night, I'm still drawing a blank. Another one of my increasingly standard black outs, although I have that familiar and uncomfortable feeling that it probably included making a complete wanker of myself and offending half of Lille. Nice people walking their dogs are now crossing the road to avoid the clay covered madman in his rubbish tip playground, but I'm past caring any more. To say this tour has been 'a tough one' would be the piss take of the century. It's been beyond slapstick in its scale of unrelenting, soul shaking injustice. And that manager of ours? I'm going to fucking kill him when I get back. Oh no, that's right; he was going to kill himself...

    'I don't need this right now mate ok. I did something stupid and I'm in hospital OK?'

    'I know man but we need the money.'

    'Don't you hear what I'm saying?! I tried to kill myself! And I don't need this right now, OK!'

    I knew he was bullshitting. I felt bad for thinking it but deep down I knew. That bloody American band would be on my arse again in a few hours nagging me for their 'fucking money bro', and they cared even less for our suicidal manager's sob story. I can't wait till it's all over. As soon as I leave the stage tonight, I'm going straight for Calais.

    Sucking the warm dregs of someone's bottle of water I found in the van foot well, I hear groaning from the back. Yes, they're up! Bollocks, the moment of truth. The Fear gives me another good, solid yank and I am now bracing myself for yet more stories of my embarrassing drunken puerility. First out of the back – Glyn Bateman on drums.

    Glyn was the 'new guy' in the band. Kind, fun, genuine, hilariously gullible, a massive believer in the most outlandish conspiracy theories, 110% enthusiastic about everything all of the time and an absolute animal behind the kit. When Glyn isn't taking pictures of everything, dropping things, banging on tables, ranting about underground tunnels 'where the aliens live', forgetting one of his myriad man bags, downing litres of milkshake or 'spanking skins' (playing drums), he's asleep. And when he sleeps his body is possessed by Demons.

    There are people who snore and there is Glyn. The soundly sleeping drummer has no awareness of his person being used as a channel for Satan of an eve, but anyone who has slept in the same building as him (let alone a van) will testify to the torrent of twisted screams, deranged groaning and tormented wailing that comes from the boy as he slumbers peacefully. Frustratingly, this also means that he's way more super-charged than the rest of us every morning, having slept like a little demon baby while the rest of us toss, turn and cry all night. Which is why I now sleep in the front.

    This morning, though, I swear he's avoiding my eye, talking under his breath and being evasive. Or maybe I'm being paranoid. I ask a leading question:

    'Good night last night eh?'

    'Uh yeah, I think. How are you feeling?'

    Shit. I knew it.

  • James Kennedy has written 3 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    15th April 2019 10% already! Thank you!

    Hey guys, so here we are 1 week into the campaign and we're at 10% of the target already! Thank you SO much to everyone who has been the first through the gate to make a pledge on the book, I really do appreciate it. I've put my heart and soul into this book and it would mean the world to see it brought to life - thanks to you in helping me to hopefully make that a reality! We're still a long way…

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About Eye Books

Eye Books is a small, independent publisher founded in 1996, with the original aim of publishing books about the extraordinary things that ordinary people have done, often with a strong travel or geographical element to their stories. More recently we have branched out into more general non-fiction. Our backlist includes Morgan Tsvangirai's autobiography, an account of the first all-female expedition to the North Pole, the first books by adventurer Alastair Humphreys and the best-selling history of Trojan Records. Lightning Books is our newer fiction imprint. Our first full fiction list was in 2017, when half the novels we published were listed for prizes. Our diverse list now includes prize-winning work from Australia and New Zealand, Ray Robinson’s Portico-shortlisted The Mating Habits of Stags and the bestselling Cockleberry Bay trilogy by epublishing superstar Nicola May. As a small publisher we are able to make decisions quickly, and not by committee. We are small and nimble enough to take risks. Our working relationship with our authors is collaborative, if they want it to be: we believe in giving writers as much input as possible on covers, pricing, promotions and marketing. We think it makes us more effective, so everyone benefits.

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