Mike Oldfield – A Life Dedicated to Music is a biography written by Chris Dewey, published by Brimstone Press, released in connection with the 40th anniversary of Tubular Bells. The book is a great read and Mike Oldfield many fans will find the stories, quotes and pictures both interesting and entertaining. The best part is the fan perspective, which I’m sure many longtime MO enthusiasts will recognize. An alternative title to the book might have been A Life Dedicated to Mike Oldfield. The story about the magazine Dark Star is also interesting.
In 2007 Mike Oldfield published his autobiography called Changeling. Dewey’s book is in many ways a welcome addition because it gives more balance to the story. Obviously, Mike Oldfield’s personal experiences are different from the fan perspective. The fan tends to be forgiving and glorifying, while the artist himself is more self critical. It is no secret that this artist has had his share of personal problems. Still he has been able to produce the music we love for 40 years.
The quotes in the book are taken from various interviews and articles. The author has also spoken with people close to the artist. Dewey is better known as the editor of the Mike Oldfield magazine Dark Star. In the book we get the story about how the magazine came to be and its development through the years. That too has been a journey in close connection with the artist’s rise and fall in popularity.
The story about Mike Oldfield is also the story about genre confusion. No one describes it better than Mike himself in Changeling (page 251):
“There have been various people who have called me things like the father of New Age, the godfather of ambient music. All the same, I have tremendous regrets about the period of my life when I was at my most successful. I still carry around a sense of guilt, that I wasn’t able to be the spokeperson or figurehead for real, interesting, progressive music.”
What Dewey’s book tells us is that Mike really is wrong here, that he actually had (and still have) that position in progressive music. The underlying problem is that progressive music itself never could create true, 1970s styled rock stars. It just doesn’t have the right edge. But that is a good thing if you ask me or any MO fan.
All in all I think Dewey has written a great book that all MO fans will enjoy. The quotes are well selected and the story is both personal and informative. It is a story about how fame come and go, while real fans stay true to their artist. To quote Amarok; Ha-ha-happy? My answer would be; Yes! Do you know, I really feel I could dance! (Margaret Thatcher voice).
Mike Oldfield – A Life Dedicated to Music is available in hardcover and as an ebook. Note that the ebook does not have pictures.
The book is available here.