Books

Book Review: Salad Daze – Wayne Hussey


With a career approaching 40 years, including working with Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls, Dead or Alive, The Sisters Of Mercy, not to mention some of the more obscure acts (It’s probably fair to say that The Walkie Talkies resemble this remark), Wayne Hussey is mostly recognized as the leader and frontman of The Mission. Hussey puts pen to paper again, but this time, it’s to reveal his life story with ‘Salad Daze’, a memoir that weighs in at over 300 pages of his childhood, his jaunts around the Liverpool club scene as well as the birth of a rock star.

First off, let’s get the initial disappointment (for some) out of the way. If you’re looking for all the behind the scenes stuff about The Mission, such as working with John Paul Jones on the ‘Children’ album, Craig Adams temporarily quitting mid tour, Simon Hinkler leaving the band in 1990 reducing the band to a 3 piece for ‘Masque’, or having to recreate the band from scratch in the 90s only to disband just under three years later, and everything in between then forget it. You’re not getting that, not now anyway. This book is part one, spanning from his birth in 1958 to his departure from the Sisters in 1985

Each chapter starts off with a recommended Spotify playlist curated by Hussey for background ambience while reading. Songs that either influenced him during that period of his life, or shows he had attended, played as a club DJ, and yes, even songs he has written and performed. Definitely something new for this reader and a welcome idea. Another welcome reassurance from Wayne is that the book won’t be a bitter memoir bitching at everyone he’s encountered left and right as there are enough of those around. I would certainly tend to agree with this.

Hussey talks about his Mormon upbringing, and the struggle of slowly breaking away from it as he finds a new identity that he can relate to, as serving as a Missionary didn’t exactly appeal to him. Neither did attending the C of E school in Winterbourne although he does poke a little fun about sharing the same school as J.K Rowling, especially when it comes to Harry Potter;

“I don’t wish to make any spurious claims but when you see photos of me from the same time that J.K. lived in Winterbourne and we went to school together, it does make me wonder who her visual inspiration was for the Harry Potter character.”

When you see some of the earlier photos of Hussey that accompany the book, he has a very valid point!

With school days behind him, and a false start in gaining independence before facing moving back home with his tail between his legs, it wouldn’t be long before Hussey would seize the opportunity to move to Liverpool where it wouldn’t take long before he’s part of the club scene (frequenting Erics on a regular basis). It is around this time where he progresses from jam bands to getting what he considers proper gigs with the likes of Hambi & The Dance, The Ded Byrds / Walkie Talkies and The Invisible Girls.

At this point Hussey has gone from the quiet kid new to the club, to rubbing shoulders with the likes of Holly Johnson and Pete Burns, the latter which lead him joining Dead Or Alive, we’re talking about post Nightmares In Wax era Dead Or Alive here, as opposed to ‘Sophisticated Boom Boom’ era (although Hussey’s guitar work is just about on that album, he remains uncredited for it). We get some insight as to how cruel and cutting Pete Burns could be, but despite his faults, Wayne still speaks fondly of his recently fallen bandmate.

Speaking of people who can be cruel and cutting, Wayne gets a phone call from Sisters Of Mercy frontman, Andrew Eldritch following his departure from Dead Or Alive due to the frustration of his guitar work being overdubbed with sequencers. Ben Gunn, the bands guitarist has left the Sisters and they’re seeking a replacement, after the audition Hussey is told that the job is his if he wants it. Here he meets a kindred spirit in Craig Adams and we snowball into a whole new level of debauchery and cruel pranks, including leading cockroaches into the mouths of unsuspecting band members passed out in drunken stupors, or urinating in barrels of beer as a secret for freeloading uninvited locker room dwellers.

The final chapters touch on the recording and touring for The Sisters ‘First And Last And Always’ tour, and we get a lot of insight into the mind of Eldritch, and the many roles he plays in the Sisters, not only as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, but also as a self-appointed manager of the group and how easy all of the above can become a conflict of interest, and the subsequent fallout as a result.

Conclusion: 4/5 stars.

 

As autobiographies go, Salad Daze is an easy read. It’s an open, honest account of 60 years of Hussey’s life as he remember it. His opinions on all the situations that he’s encountered are bunt, yet objective and understanding. Some of the accounts will make you split your sides with laughter, especially when you read why Hussey wears a hat on stage for the first time. This gets a two thumbs up from me.