DEAD BRILLIANT: An insider’s view of the decline of the music biz

DEAD BRILLIANT: An insider’s view of the decline of the music biz

Posted on January 17 by Christopher Ward
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Today's blog post is from Allister Thompson, editor of Christopher Ward's new book Dead Brilliant.


Author Christopher Ward, as one of the original VJs on MuchMusic in the eighties, was part of the youth of a very large part of Canada’s population. In fact, and I’m not buttering him up here, he was my favourite. He hosted the Fromage show that collected the most heinous videos of the year and seemed to have a pretty cynical, measured take on the whole pop culture thing. As a noted cynic myself, I found his attitude refreshing.

In 200…9, I think, I was contacted out of the blue by Ward to edit a couple of novels. Christopher had no idea that I had a musical background myself, so let’s just say fate must have been at work. One manuscript was a children’s novel, the zany and super-fun Mac in the City of Light, later published by Dundurn. The other was Dead Brilliant. I was wowed by the quality of both and vowed to help get them published — which I did. It was an easy sell.

Ward has worked in the music industry for decades, and he knows the score. I’ve had the “pleasure” of visiting L.A. on musical business several times myself, and the presentation of that world in the book is pretty damn accurate, though a lot more fun than I ever had down there.

Roc Molotov’s at the end of his career. The musical public is fickle, and after a while it doesn’t matter if you’re doing the best work of your life — there are newer, shinier baubles to attract people’s attention, and you can be thrown on the scrap heap of rock history pretty fast. When Roc finds himself in this position, his diabolical manager (is there any other kind?) Uncle Strange concocts a plan to keep Roc eternally successful: he has to die. Because we all know that no one sells more records than a rock star who died young.

Of course, the plan may seem foolproof, but nothing ever is, and the nuttiness unfolds from there.

The novel succeeds for several reasons: 1. It’s funny as hell. 2. While the goings-on are crazy, I can really see something like this happening. 3. The skewering of the music industry is irreverent but oddly affectionate. 4. Despite the satirical nature of the novel, there’s a lot of genuinely touching moments as well, particularly between Roc and his southern belle girlfriend.

No one is better qualified to have written this novel than Christopher Ward, and anyone who wants the dark heart of Hollywood’s entertainment world revealed to them in all its sleazy glory should read this novel and laugh along.

We’ll be seeing a lot more great literature from Christopher in the future — I intend to make sure of that.

Christopher Ward

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

Christopher Ward

Christopher Ward, Canada’s original MuchMusic VJ, wrote the world-wide #1 hit “Black Velvet.” His songs have been recorded by Diana Ross, The Backstreet Boys, Amanda Marshall, and many others. He lives in Toronto and Los Angeles.