Two rising 70s rock-and-roll artists are catapulted into stardom when a producer puts them together, a decision that is complicated by a pregnancy and the seductions of fame. By the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.
Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, After I Do, and Forever, Interrupted. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their daughter, and their dog.
*Starred Review* Daisy Jones and the Six was the hottest rock band of the seventies; the sexy voice of Daisy Jones and the pleading tones of Billy Dunne were the soundtrack to countless sweltering summer nights. Yet fans had no idea of the chaos behind the curtain. Daisy and Billy, oozing raw attraction on stage, couldn't even look at each other as they walked off. When she wasn't singing or writing songs, wild child Daisy was popping pills. Billy's addiction was alcohol, until he met Camila and discovered a whole new kind of dependence. Graham, Eddie, and Warren loved the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, but Karen and Pete had other things on their minds. Framed as a tell-all biography compiled through interviews and articles, Reid's (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, 2017) novel so resembles a memoir of a real band and conjures such true-to-life images of the seventies music scene that readers will think they're listening to Fleetwood Mac or Led Zeppelin. Reid is unsurpassed in her ability to create complex characters working through emotions that will make your toes curl. HIGH-DEMAND BACK STORY: Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine is producing a 13-episode series for Amazon. Order accordingly. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
What ever happened to Daisy Jones and The Six, the iconic 1970s rock band that topped the charts and sold out stadiums? It's always been a mystery why the musicians suddenly disbanded. Reid (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, 2017, etc.) takes an unusual approach to dissecting the breakup of the fictional rock band by offering a narrative composed solely of transcribed interviews. At the center of the documentary-style novel is the relationship between lead singer Billy Dunne, recovering addict and aspiring family man, and sexy bad girl Daisy Jones, whose soulful voice and complex lyrics turn out to have been the missing ingredient The Six needed. When Daisy joins the band, the group catapults to fame, but not without cost. She refuses to simply fall in line and let Billy make the artistic decisions. In doing this, not only does she infuriate the band leader, she also sets an example for other members who are only too happy to start voicing their own demands. Over time the te nsion between Billy and Daisy grows increasingly more complicated, threatening to take its toll on Billy's home life. He is fiercely loyal to his wife, Camila, while also being fully cognizant of his weaknesses—a torturous combination for Billy. Other band members have their own embroilments, and Daisy's bestie, disco diva Simone Jackson, enhances the cast, but the crux of the story is about how the addition of Daisy to The Six forever changes the chemistry of the band, for better and worse. There is great buildup around answering the big question of what happened at their final concert together, though the revelation is a letdown. Further, the documentary-style writing detracts from the storytelling; it often feels gimmicky, as though the author is trying too hard for a fresh and clever approach. This is a shame because her past novels, traditionally told, have been far more engaging. Despite some drawbacks, an insightful story that will appeal to readers nostalgic fo r the 1970s. Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Daisy Jones was born in 1951 and grew up in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, California. The daughter of Frank Jones, the well-known British painter, and Jeanne LeFevre, a French model, Daisy started to make a name for herself in the late sixties as a young teenager on the Sunset Strip.
Elaine Chang (biographer, author of Daisy Jones: Wild Flower): Here is what is so captivating about Daisy Jones even before she was “Daisy Jones.”
You’ve got a rich white girl, growing up in L.A. She’s gorgeous—even as a child. She has these stunning big blue eyes—dark, cobalt blue. One of my favorite anecdotes about her is that in the eighties a colored-contact company actually created a shade called Daisy Blue. She’s got copper-red hair that is thick and wavy and . . . takes up so much space. And then her cheekbones almost seem swollen, that’s how defined they are. And she’s got an incredible voice that she doesn’t cultivate, never takes a lesson. She’s born with all the money in the world, access to whatever she wants—artists, drugs, clubs—anything and everything at her disposal.
But she has no one. No siblings, no extended family in Los Angeles. Two parents who are so into their own world that they are all but indifferent to her existence. Although, they never shy away from making her pose for their artist friends. That’s why there are so many paintings and photos of Daisy as a child—the artists that came into that home saw Daisy Jones, saw how gorgeous she was, and wanted to capture her. It’s telling that there is no Frank Jones piece of Daisy. Her father is too busy with his male nudes to pay much attention to his daughter. And in general, Daisy spends her childhood rather alone.
But she’s actually a very gregarious, outgoing kid—Daisy would often ask to get her hair cut just because she loved her hairdresser, she would ask neighbors if she could walk their dogs, there was even a family joke about the time Daisy tried to bake a birthday cake for the mailman. So this is a girl that desperately wants to connect. But there’s no one in her life who is truly interested in who she is, especially not her parents. And it really breaks her. But it is also how she grows up to become an icon.
We love broken, beautiful people. And it doesn’t get much more obviously broken and more classically beautiful than Daisy Jones.
So it makes sense that Daisy starts to find herself on the Sunset Strip. This glamorous, seedy place.
Daisy Jones (singer, Daisy Jones & The Six): I could walk down to the Strip from my house. I was about fourteen, sick of being stuck in the house, just looking for something to do. I wasn’t old enough to get into any of the bars and clubs but I went anyway.
I remember bumming a cigarette off of a roadie for the Byrds when I was pretty young. I learned quickly that people thought you were older if you didn’t wear your bra. And sometimes I’d wear a bandanna headband like the cool girls had on. I wanted to fit in with the groupies on the sidewalk, with their joints and their flasks and all of that.
So I bummed a cigarette from this roadie outside the Whisky a Go Go one night—the first time I’d ever had one and I tried to pretend I did it all the time. I held the cough in my throat and what have you—and I was flirting with him the best I could. I’m embarrassed to think about it now, how clumsy I probably was.
But eventually, some guy comes up to the roadie and says, “We gotta get inside and set up the amps.” And he turns to me and says, “You coming?” And that’s how I snuck into the Whisky for the first time.
I stayed out that night until three or four in the morning. I’d never done anything like that before. But suddenly it was like I existed. I was a part of something. I went from zero to sixty that night. I was drinking and smoking anything anybody would give me.
When I got home, I walked in through the front door, drunk and stoned, and crashed in my bed. I’m pretty sure my parents never even noticed I was gone.
I got up, went out the next night, did the same thing.
Eventually, the bouncers on the Strip recognized me and let me in wherever I was going. The Whisky, London Fog, the Riot House. No one cared how young I was.
Greg McGuinness (former concierge, the Continental Hyatt House): Ah, man, I don’t know how long Daisy was hanging around the Hyatt House before I noticed her. But I remember the first time I saw her. I was on the phone and in walks this crazy tall, crazy skinny girl with these bangs. And the biggest, roundest blue eyes you ever saw in your life, man. She also had this smile. Huge smile. She came in on the arm of some guy. I don’t remember who.
A lot of the girls around the Strip back then, I mean, they were young, but they tried to seem older. Daisy just was, though. Didn’t seem like she was trying to be anything. Except herself.
After that, I noticed she was at the hotel a lot. She was always laughing. There was nothing jaded about her, ’least when I knew her. It was like watching Bambi learn how to walk. She was real naïve and real vulnerable but you could tell there was something about her.
I was nervous for her, tell you the truth. There were so many men in the scene that were . . . into young girls. Thirty-something rock stars sleeping with teenagers. Not saying it was okay, just saying that’s how it was. How old was Lori Mattix when she was with Jimmy Page? Fourteen? And Iggy Pop and Sable Starr? He sang about it, man. He was bragging about it.
When it came to Daisy—I mean, the singers, the guitarists, the roadies—everybody was looking at her. Whenever I saw her, though, I’d try to make sure she was doing all right. I kept tabs on her here and there. I really liked her. She was just cooler than anything else happening around her.
Daisy: I learned about sex and love the hard way. That men will take what they want and feel no debt, that some people only want one piece of you.
I do think there were girls—the Plaster Casters, some of the GTOs—maybe they weren’t being taken advantage of, I don’t know. But it was a bad scene for me, at first.
I lost my virginity to somebody that . . . it doesn’t matter who it was. He was older, he was a drummer. We were in the lobby of the Riot House and he invited me upstairs to do some lines. He said I was the girl of his dreams.
I was drawn to him mainly because he was drawn to me. I wanted someone to single me out as something special. I was just so desperate to hold someone’s interest.
Before I knew it, we were on his bed. And he asked me if I knew what I was doing and I said yes even though the answer was no. But everyone always talked about free love and how sex was a good thing. If you were cool, if you were hip, you liked sex.
I stared at the ceiling the whole time, waiting for him to be done. I knew I was supposed to be moving around but I stayed perfectly still, scared to move. All you could hear in the room was the sound of our clothes rubbing up against the bedspread.
I had no idea what I was doing or why I was doing things I knew I didn’t want to be doing. But I’ve had a lot of therapy in my life now. And I mean a lot of therapy. And I see it now. I see myself clearly now. I wanted to be around these men—these stars—because I didn’t know how else to be important. And I figured I had to please them if I wanted to stay.
When he was done, he got up. And I pulled my dress down. And he said, “If you want to go back down to your friends, that’s all right.” I didn’t really have any friends. But I knew he meant I needed to leave. So I did.
He never talked to me again.
Simone Jackson (disco star): I remember seeing Daisy on the dance floor one night at the Whisky. Everybody saw her. Your eye went right to her. If the rest of the world was silver, Daisy was gold.
Daisy: Simone became my best friend.
Simone: I brought Daisy out with me everywhere. I never had a sister.
I remember . . . It was the Sunset Strip riot, when all of us went down to Pandora’s and protested the curfew and the cops. Daisy and I went out, protested, met up with some actors and went over to Barney’s Beanery to keep partying. After that, we went back to somebody’s place. Daisy passed out on this guy’s patio. We didn’t go home until the next afternoon. She was maybe fifteen. I was probably nineteen. I just kept thinking, Doesn’t anybody care about this girl but me?
And, by the way, we were all on speed back then, even Daisy as young as she was. But if you wanted to stay skinny and be up all night, you were taking something. Mostly bennies or black beauties.
Daisy: Diet pills were an easy choice. It didn’t even feel like a choice. It didn’t even feel like we were getting high, at first. Coke, too. If it was around, you took a bump. People didn’t even consider it an addiction. It wasn’t like that.
Simone: My producer bought me a place in Laurel Canyon. He wanted to sleep with me. I told him no and he bought it for me anyway. I had Daisy move in.
We ended up sharing a bed for six months. So I can tell you firsthand that that girl never slept. I’d be trying to fall asleep at four in the morning and Daisy would want the light on so she could read.
Daisy: I had pretty bad insomnia for a long time, even when I was a kid. I’d be up at eleven o’clock, saying I wasn’t tired, and my parents would always yell at me to “just go to sleep.” So in the middle of the night I was always looking for quiet things to do. My mom had these romance novels hanging around so I would read those. It would be two in the morning and my parents would be having a party downstairs and I’d be sitting on my bed with my lamp on, reading Doctor Zhivago or Peyton Place.
And then it just became habit. I would read anything that was around. I wasn’t picky. Thrillers, detective novels, sci-fi.
Around the time I moved in with Simone, I found a box of history biographies on the side of the road one day, up in Beachwood Canyon. I tore through those in no time.
Simone: I’ll tell you, she’s the entire reason I started wearing a sleeping mask. [Laughs] But then I kept doing it because I looked chic.
Daisy: I was living with Simone for two weeks before I went home to get more clothes.
My dad said, “Did you break the coffeemaker this morning?”
I said, “Dad, I don’t even live here.”
Simone: I told her the one condition of living with me was that she had to go to school.
Daisy: High school was not easy for me. I knew that to get an A, you had to do what you were told. But I also knew that a lot of what we were being told was bullshit. I remember one time I was assigned an essay on how Columbus discovered America and so I wrote a paper about how Columbus did not discover America. Because he didn’t. But then I got an F.
I said to my teacher, “But I’m right.”
And she said, “But you didn’t follow the assignment.”
Simone: She was so bright and her teachers didn’t seem to really recognize that.
Daisy: People always say I didn’t graduate high school but I did. When I walked across the stage to get my diploma, Simone was cheering for me. She was so proud of me. And I started to feel proud of myself, too. That night, I took the diploma out of its case and I folded it up and I used it, like a bookmark, in my copy of Valley of the Dolls.
Simone: When my first album flopped, my record label dropped me. My producer kicked us out of that place. I got a job waiting tables and moved in with my cousin in Leimert Park. Daisy had to move back in with her parents.
Daisy: I just packed up my stuff from Simone’s and drove it right back to my parents’ place. When I walked in the front door, my mom was on the phone, smoking a cigarette.
I said, “Hey, I’m back.”
She said, “We got a new couch,” and then just kept on talking on the phone.
Simone: Daisy got all of her beauty from her mother. Jeanne was gorgeous. I remember I met her a few times back then. Big eyes, very full lips. There was a sensuality to her. People used to always tell Daisy she looked just like her mother. They did look similar but I knew better than to tell Daisy that.
I think one time I said to Daisy, “Your mom is beautiful.”
Daisy said to me, “Yeah, beautiful and nothing else.”