[Hepworth] has come up with a neat, more purposeful framework for his colourful, richly marinated survey of the phenomenon of the rock star between the mid-1950s and mid-1990s: one chapter per year, with each chapter having as its focus one particular day when something significant or emblematic happened … After almost an adult lifetime of witnessing the music industry at close quarters, Hepworth is, in many ways, a dream author. Not only does he know his stuff, typified by his gratifyingly detailed analysis of how the arrival from California in 1959 of Leo Fender’s Stratocaster transformed the fortunes of Hank Marvin and the Shadows, but he is alert to broader social and cultural trends, as exemplified by his deft treatment of the MTV revolution of the early 1980s .At their best, Hepworth’s chapters yield something of the satisfaction of a sharply observed, neatly shaped short story.
Uncommon People really sings when Hepworth connects rock 'n' roll's evolutionary dots. The British music journalist and former presenter on BBC's ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ chronicles rock's most pivotal stars and moments from 1955-95, focusing on make-or-break flashpoints, including Buddy Holly's plane crash, Janis Joplin at Monterey and Live Aid. As the book moves methodically through rock's often sordid history, patterns begin to develop, as the layers of rock star template are unpeeled, revealing both its evolution and eventual de-evolution … Hepworth's theories provide no great revelations: It was technology, he writes, that killed the rock 'n' roll star … Uncommon People serves as a loud reminder of the real deal, shining a bright floodlight on a beautifully flamboyant era rich with creativity and characters who deserve to live forever.
In Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars, David Hepworth...has many stories to tell of rock stars phasing themselves out, but some of his most interesting stories are of those who were abruptly deleted … The book focuses less on the music and more on the business, which Mr. Hepworth describes as having ‘two forms of demand: nonexistent and impossible to satisfy.’ He relishes the deals, scandal and brawls as well as the nitty-gritty of building a career ...Mr. Hepworth takes the stance of the insider-raconteur but gives no sources for his stories beyond a select bibliography. This leaves the stories uncluttered by footnotes but means that they lack context … He has an underlying tone familiar from the music press of the 1970s and ’80s, a combination of orotund irony and casual misogyny.
Hepworth...laments the demise of the rock star, which occurred at the end of the last century … Rock fans will find the usual suspects, including Elvis Presley, each of the Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Mick Jagger, Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix, Ozzy Osbourne (whose substance abuse got him kicked out of Black Sabbath), Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Prince, Axl Rose, and groups including the Rolling Stones, the Who, Duran Duran, and Fleetwood Mac. Janis Joplin and Madonna are among the few women who make it into this encyclopedic volume. A lively compendium of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.