The Definition of Charisma - Strat! Book review by Alan Hewitt.

If ever there was a figure associated with Genesis who is deserving of a biography, that person has to be Tony Stratton Smith. Without him, Genesis and everything that subsequently emerged from that incredibly talented group of musicians might never have happened and the world of music would have been infinitely poorer for the loss and TWR would not have a reason to exist!

Telling the story of a man as complex as Strat is no easy task - I would never have dared to take it on myself - but thankfully Chris Groom has done a sterling job in marrying the contradictions between a man who was as happy on the race track as he was in the football terraces as he was watching his bands at the Marquee and elsewhere.

There were many surprises - and a few shocks - for me in this book and some of my assumptions have had to be reassessed. The story that unfolds in the three hundred plus pages of this book is every bit as fascinating as that of the people Strat worked with, encouraged, managed and made famous. How on earth he ever managed to combine such disparate interests is quite simply beyond me. Who else but Strat would have written a biography of a Ukrainian nun, given Genesis their big break, run a string of successful racehorses and allow the musical and visual insanity of both Monty Python AND The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band on to a record label?

It is that wonderful mix of ingredients that keeps this story simmering from beginning to end. It isn't entirely a happy story, Strat like everyone else, had his demons and sometimes they came to the fore. Groom does an admirable job of telling the story without avoiding such occasions and it makes for an extremely readable biography of one of the most fascinating characters in musical history. And, barring the odd glaring error, such as Gail Colson's assertion that Genesis played the Milton Keynes Bowl on 30th June 1978 when in fact it was Saturday 2nd October 1982 when that rather wet event took place (I know, I was there!), the end result is an essential read for all music fans.

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