It’s exactly 154 pages into ‘I Danny McCormack’ that you receive the suckerpunch (ouch) message that every young aspiring musician should take on board. This being… “drugs are always given a glamorous rock ‘n’ roll edge in the press, but there is no fairy dust and no pot of gold. Crack and heroin only lead to death, misery, and debt.”
So speaks the man behind the title of this book, and when you’ve lived the life he has, and he’s warning you about what will happen when you make just a few wrong decisions in life, then you best sit up and take note, because this book really is one of the most harrowing accounts of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle you are ever likely to read.
You also have to take your hat off to his co-author Guy Shankland from Vive Le Rock (and many other sites/magazines) too, because he’s the one who painstakingly assembled this paperback (initially offering up digital chapters as part of a Patreon campaign set up to help Danny) over a period of some two years, during which time his interviewee would often disappear for extended periods, and given his subject matter’s already acknowledged lifestyle, Guy himself must surely have wondered if the 184 page tome would ever get finished, never mind published.
If you are a fan of The Wildhearts, or in fact any of Danny’s other bands, you really must read this book, as it’s his account of his life, viewed without the aid of any rose-tinted spectacles. It deals with the ups and MANY downs and doesn’t really skirt around the issues that he faced (initially as someone just out of their teens) joining one of the UK’s most promising bands of the 1990s. Not least his long undiagnosed mental health condition, something he is now thankfully taking medication for.
As it’s Danny’s view there’s some things in the book that hardcore Wildhearts fans may not want, or like, to hear especially when the introduction to his life story is made by way of him recounting the time his femoral artery burst not long after The Main Grains had filmed their first video. Oh, and there’s the not so insignificant matter that he would have died were it not for the swift action of his partner Von (who quite rightly gets her very own special dedication at the front of the book).
Personally, I fell out of love with The Wildhearts a few years back, not because I felt they suddenly made poor music, but largely because I grew to dislike the way certain band members conducted themselves in the age of social media. It’s one of Danny’s bugbears too, and he touches on it whilst describing what it was like to once again be a part of a band slowly falling apart during the time of the ‘21st Century Love Songs’ album and subsequent tour. A chapter that whilst reassuring to me to discover that I was not alone in feeling the way I did, also made me feel oh so sad for the sorry state of a band I once considered truly untouchable.
Then again when you’ve grown up with heroes like Pete Way and Sid Vicious plastered all over your bedroom wall like I did, perhaps it’s the cold hard facts of a book like ‘I Danny McCormack’ that you really need to hear, and most of all, come to terms with and understand.
I should perhaps also add that it’s not all doom and gloom, there are some genuinely uplifting and laugh out loud moments within the pathos of ‘I Danny McCormack’, and as such I couldn’t help but, in my head, draw some parallels with Danny’s story to that of one Winston Ingram (of BBC’s Still Game fame). Both being someone who is always laughing and joking whatever life throws at them, who is loved by family and friends even though they can be a pain in arse to be around, and of course they are their own worst enemy when it comes to the excesses that life has to offer them.
Anyway, back in the real world, Danny and Guy will be discussing the book at this year’s Rebellion Festival where they headline the Literary stage on Friday 4th August. Danny promising that it will be a truly warts ‘n’ all session with things he dared not put in the book being up for debate.
If like me you can’t make this year’s Rebellion Festival though you can always order a copy of ‘I Danny McCormack’ (now into its third print run) directly from Guy via this eBay link. It’s not an easy read that’s for sure, but once you’ve picked ‘I Danny McCormack’ up, you’ll not want to stop reading it, it really is Danny’s true anthem to his life. It’s powerful and absorbing stuff!
Author: Johnny Hayward