Exit Stage Left by Nick Duerden – what happens once the hits have dried up?

These profiles of ageing rockers ponder whether it’s better to burn out, fade away or buy a house in London, writes the former frontman of the Ordinary Boys

I remember opening for the Who towards the end of my time in the Ordinary Boys, the band with whom I enjoyed brief fame in the 00s. Roger Daltrey, then in his late 60s, sang, apparently without irony: “I hope I die before I get old.” It made me think: “What’s next? Maybe I could find a nice job in advertising.” It’s a question that almost every performer faces in an industry that fetishises youth: is it better to burn out or just fade away? And then what? Where do you go? What do you do? How do you move on?

These are the questions Nick Duerden poses in his new book, Exit Stage Left. Each chapter serves as a condensed musical biography. The opener is a sensitive account of the life and career of Peter Perrett of the Only Ones, whose 1978 release Another Girl, Another Planet is one of punk’s great pop songs. But “artists really aren’t the best people to operate the heavy machinery of adulthood” and a regrettable incident in a car park in California while supporting the Who (them again) had them thrown off the tour and sent back to England, where he spent the next couple of decades struggling with substance dependency. There’s a redemptive arc in Perrett’s story and it’s incredibly moving to read.

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