Sometimes you just need to be in the right place at the right time and, with a bit confidence, cheek and luck, you may find a whole new opportunity open up to you. This was certainly the case with Kim Hawes, a teenage girl from a small village in rural Lancashire who never knew that blagging her way backstage at an Elvis Costello gig would lead to an extraordinary life all over the globe.
Kim Hawes – Confessions of a Female Tour Manager
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Hawes brings the blood, sweat and tears of life on the road alive in this tome that covers her ascent from fan to merchandiser and onto tour manager, dealing with the personalities and situations that very few of us could even begin to imagine. From this original falling into a life selling t-shirts and badges for Costello and then finding herself unexpectedly on a European tour with Rush, she then goes onto working with Motorhead, Hawkwind, Concrete Blonde and Chumbawumba amongst many others.
The story takes us from her first home in Hesketh Bank to the heights and depths of Paris, Los Angeles and many locations in between.
The book is peppered with incident, the highs of massively successful gigs through to life threatening situations with both petty and organised crime intruding on her life, throwing Madonna offstage and having to try to get a knife off of a very drunk and murderous Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor when plans during a trip back to the UK go awry.
A great deal of the book is dedicated to her time on the road with Lemmy and crew and, as expected, it is occasionally hair-raising stuff that is fascinating to read about but must have been quietly terrifying to live through at times.
The book ably conveys the mundane side of long tours, exposing the truth behind the perceived glamour and brings a catalogue of mountains that Hawes was having to climb on a daily basis. We get to see the bad behavior, often caused by boredom, the drug use, the drinking, the destruction of hotel property and the fights with promoters, but we also get to see the more tender and personal moments.
Whilst this is a salutary tale and one that shines light on the harsh realities of life on the road, it is also a love song to those who make the music happen.
Where the book shows these insights it is a gripping read for all those who are interested in scratching below the surface of what happens when bands tour, the extended anecdotes bringing situations to visceral life.
Sadly though, there are sections that offer brief snippets that do not really seem to go anywhere, breaking the narrative flow and crop up with a real scattergun approach that pepper the chapters. Some of it is a lot of ‘you had to be there’ to get the real meat but a tighter editorial control over the content would have shorn or at least fleshed out some of these moments.
There is a sense that Hawes recalls fragments but not whole pictures, the story jumping around without a chronological order at times and her move from merchandiser to tour manager barely touched on at all.
It is doubtless an extraordinary story and one that shows that, in a very macho orientated world, that strong women are more than capable of matching and besting their male counterparts.
Hawes has a great depth of experience and this lifts the lid on her life with some of the biggest and most notorious, but it could have been so much better with a bit of tightening. Overall, this a great story but a slightly missed opportunity.
For more information, visit http://kimtm.com/confessions-of-a-female-tour-manager