Over my years of working in music and television I have worked with countless famous folk. Some on their way up, some at their peak, some on their way down and some clinging onto fame for dear life and trying to claw their way back up to the top (or usually, the bottom-middle) by going on reality television and daytime chat shows. Some were really lovely people and some were absolute horrors.
Fame, or even the hint of burgeoning fame has a habit of turning most people into massive wankers.
They can’t help it; a little bit of attention inflates their ego so much that a guitar player from Stoke thinks he can act like Keith Richards just because a junior A&R rep came to his gig and said the songs he wrote he were ‘alright’.
By the time his band gets a record deal, he’ll be wearing sunglasses in the pub and wearing leather trousers at lunchtime, while lamenting that he’s not the one that’s changed, it’s everyone around him who treats him differently because he’s famous now.
Truth is, fame does change people. I have seen it countless times, not just with musicians, but with actors, writers, dancers and stand up comics.
Having people around you tell you that you are fantastic day in day out does inflate your ego. It’s wonderful to get success from the talent you possess and to gain recognition for it – but there is never a need to act like a twat about it.
Here is what I have noticed about people and their level of twatishness verses their level of fame over the years. I have used musicians as an example as I used to see this type of behaviour day in, day out for years, but it applies to anyone in the entertainment industry.
Here’s a handy graph to illustrate my point:
Notice anything about the levels of twatishness? There is a sharp incline at the beginning of the career when they completely believe all their PR hype. Bigger than Jesus? Bigger than God, the stars and the Universe more like.
‘Peak Twatishness’ is when they are at their very worst.
Think of a musician backstage demanding their dressing room be repainted white for one evening, or the actor who throws a toddler style tantrum because their trailer isn’t big enough or a journalist dared to ask them the wrong question.
They tend to go down to normal levels when the artist has had their first few years of fame and success. That is when you expect them to have the biggest egos, but when they have achieved that level of fame and success for a few years, then they seem to get the fuck over themselves and become normal again.
Not in all cases of course – some people are self entitled wankers to the end, but I think they would be like that even if they were postmen. (I’ll just leave these two names with you to mull over: Sting and Bono). In general, Peak Twattishness tends to occur early to mid career.
Usually, the loveliest people to work with are the ones just starting out who are grateful for any praise, advice or constructive criticism, or veterans of the entertainment industry who have earned the right to be pleased with themselves.
In my time I have had bands come into my studio to record their second single who thought they were God’s gift and so above me that they wouldn’t even return my cheery ‘good morning’ and in contrast, a world famous actor with many years of work behind him, who couldn’t have been nicer to me and made my cups of tea while reading my work and then gave me a lift home on the back of his bike.
It was always the way when working in Recording Studios. I would always have a look at the bookings for that week and guess who would be absolute pains in the arse to work with and who would be lovely. I was usually right. It was usually the band, high off the success of their first album that would come in, late, wearing sunglasses and ignoring everyone.
Most of the time they would start drinking at midday, asking for Jack Daniels because that’s what edgy, famous people do at lunchtime, and you could see the look of poorly disguised disgust on their faces as they took a sip. Later on in my career in music, before I threw in the towel as I was sick of shit like that, I started to ask them if they would just prefer a milkshake? That never went down too well. They were ROCK STARS, and I was a nobody, how dare I even speak to them! If I bumped into them at a gig or a party, I be completely ignored, as they were only interested in people more famous than themselves.
Real Rock stars, with years of experience – now they were different. I was spoken to politely, asked about my day, they would genuinely remember things I had told them and enquire about my family or my career every time our paths crossed and I would be invited to events and greeted warmly when I arrived.
Instead of going out the front doors in dark glasses and being herded into a car, trying to look like they didn’t want any attention but actually courting it and lapping it up, the real big leaguers would slip out quietly and go home with no fuss.
I think it’s because when you have proved your merit and had the success you deserve you know longer have anything to prove and so don’t have to try and act the part of the big ‘I am’.
Of course, I could just be talking bollocks, I am sure there are some very amiable people out there who are working their way up to the A list. (And no offence to Sting or Bono, I am just basing those opinions on two very brief meetings and my sheer and utter hatred for their music).