Being ill does have one advantage; I got to spend some time reading. Yesterday I finally finished the latest Robbie Williams biography, “Reveal”.
An intimate, funny and frank account of the moments behind the music, of the truth behind the headlines and of the fascinatingly complicated man behind the imperious entertainer, Reveal is Robbie Williams as you’ve never seen him before.
More than twelve years ago, Robbie Williams and Chris Heath published a ground-breaking memoir, Feel, about Robert P. Williams’ rise to fame; a book that was met with worldwide acclaim, from critics and fans alike. Since that time, Robbie has released six solo albums, reunited with his old band Take That and, in the wake of his twelfth UK number-one album, has returned to the stage with a sold-out run at Wembley Stadium.
In Reveal, bestselling author Chris Heath has been working closely with Robbie for many years to create a personal and raw account of fame, fortune, family and music; a vivid and detailed story of the real highs and lows as Robbie has found his way forward, that is unprecedented in its intimacy and honesty.
Robbie Williams is the first stand alone Popstar that I liked as a teenager. I wasn’t interested in Take That but fell in love with Robbie’s singles, especially Millennium. I remember listening to his album Escapology over and over on my little silver CD player in my room. I also read the first book Chris Heath wrote on Robbie twelve years ago and found it fascinating.
Reading Reveal really is like escaping into a completely different world where you don’t have to have a day job and you don’t worry about paying the mortgage but what you do have to worry about is how to fill the empty hours of traveling to shows, or waiting backstage. And what you do worry about every minute of the day is what people think about you. Never has the lifestyle of leisure sounded more burdensome.
Not that there aren’t highlights in this life, who wouldn’t want to go to a BBQ at Adele’s house with Jay Z, Beyonce and Chris Martin? But there is always a bit of sadness behind each funny celebrity anecdote (of which there are many).
One cool thing about reading the book is that because they cover a lot of media reactions to Rob’s appearances and performances you can very quickly look up these moments online and watch these events again but with a different understanding of where Rob was in his head at that time. I watched a clip of him performing in Melbourne 2006, knowing that behind that impassioned speech he hadn’t slept for days and was on the verge of a complete breakdown. I watched some of the early Take That music videos this time holding on to the thought that Rob was barely out of school and was jumping into a world he didn’t understand. I also watched the X-Factor performance of I love My Life and felt oddly proud of how far he had come.
For all of that, the book is too long and it does get repetitive after a bit. Rob’s musings on his own insecurities, his critical reception and his outlook on life are eloquently explained early on in the book. Depsite how well these are explained the exact same thoughts and arguments are repeated throughout the book where they really didn’t need to be. In the end I started skim reading these to get on to more interesting parts.
The nicest thing about this book is witnessing Rob’s happiness in finding Ayda, getting married and having children. It’s such a pedestrian cliche but it seems to be true that whilst fame, power, wealth, sex, drugs and rock n roll couldn’t make him happy, a family could.
If you are interested in Robbie Williams, you will enjoy this book. If you want to think about the price of fame and the pressures of being liked and approved of in a social media world you will find this book interesting. If you just want to read funny and uncensored stories of celebrities misbehaving you will not be disappointed!