For those whose knowledge of the music industry goes a little deeper than most the name Machat might just be familiar. A family dynasty that has worked behind the scenes for well over thirty years as transatlantic deal makers and lawyers who mingled effortlessly with the rich and famous.
‘Gods, Gangsters and Honour’ is Steven Machat’s own take on those years, detailing not only his own recollections but those of his father Marty who was the inspiration for Steven to join the family business as first a lawyer and then work in management. The book bounces back and forth through the decades and eschews the traditional linear narrative of a book with autobiographical leanings. Its more refreshing that way, you are never bogged down in a particular time frame. Each chapter taking as long as is required to get the story across.
But what of the story itself, well Machat paints an honest vibrant picture of the music and film industry but if anything even when the stories are tinged with humour the book serves as a cautionary tale. We are regaled with stories of his youth where he met Frank Sinatra and later his own time spent mixing with acts such as Leonard Cohen and Genesis, ELO and Phil Spector and a host of others Machat has been present at some key times in the music industry, the rise of Casablanca as a force in disco (the label which brought Donna Summer to prominence). As well as being involved in one of the largest grossing tours of the seventies and yet the impression you get is his life has never ever stepped away from being anything more than a house of cards waiting to come crashing down at any moment.
It is a compelling read. The anecdotes can be funny even when the potential consequences could have been disasterous (a DC 10 pilot pre flight on booze and cocaine anyone?). There have also been ramifications, it could be argued that showbusiness cost Machat his marriage and to some degree his health yet he remains wonderfully philosphical about it all. His experiences sometimes border on the cartoonish but then the industry has created its share of characters who fit that ilk. Its also made Machat some enemies as well (Sharon Osbourne apparently takes no prisoners but then that much I guess was always kind of obvious).
If you love music and you love the stories behind the music then this will serve your needs very well. Machat is an excellent chronicler of his times living what can only be described as a life less ordinary.
The book is out now. In traditional and audio format at the iTunes store.