BOOK REVIEW: Gods, Gangsters & Honor: A rock ‘n’ roll odyssey by Steven Machat

Gods, Gangsters & Honor: A rock ‘n’ roll odyssey

Sans any pretentiousness about his profession or any claim to being a choirboy himself, lawyer Steven Machat has written a captivating tell-all of his life in the entertainment industry, entitled Gods, Gangsters & Honor: A rock ‘n’ roll odyssey.

The son of renowned lawyer Marty Machat, Steven grew up surrounded by celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Frankie Valli, Sam Cooke, and James Brown, as well as working with VIPs like Suge Knight, Peter Gabriel, ELO, Seal, and Sharon Osbourne, among a long list of others.

On the surface, the book details his interaction with superstars – the glitz and glam of the world called Fame. Underneath, like the primary bulk of an iceberg, Gods, Gangsters & Honor is about the unsavoury side of showbiz, where reality is vastly different than that portrayed in public via the media. The problem Steven confronts is this: is it possible to remain honourable amid the madness?

To the outside world – the world at large – the artists Steven dealt with were stars akin to gods, a façade masking Mafioso-like personalities whose defaults were little more than outright gangsterism.

What makes Gods, Gangsters & Honor so appealing is Steven Machat’s unadulterated honesty. He simply tells it as it is, without pulling punches or trying to sugarcoat the story. It’s the kind of book you’re glad your name doesn’t appear in.

He openly reveals the paranoia of Phil Spector, who always carried a gun, along with his business dealings with the gynaecological nightmare Sharon Osbourne, who he describes as “a woman who couldn’t even use a knife and fork when I met her.” According to Steven, she even sued her own father.

One of the more interesting chapters, “The Phil Collins Effect,” demonstrates Steven’s comprehension of the recording industry, detailing his efforts on behalf of Collins with music moguls and major labels. According to Steven, “Collins had no airs and graces and because of that his management love him.”

He then goes on to relate how his relationship between the two cooled. Steven missed Collins’ wedding because of his own anniversary, which is understandable. How could he reject his own wife simply to make an appearance at another man’s wedding?

Remarkably, Steven doesn’t baulk at revealing the minutiae of contract negotiations and the reasoning behind the moves he made. Regarding some of the risks he took, Steven, in hindsight, accepts blame and doesn’t try to make lame excuses.

A few reviewers accuse Steven of “embellishment” and “doctoring” the accounts to aggrandize himself, citing his relations with Suge Knight as evidence. Such conclusions are not only specious but display a total lack of understanding of what goes on in prison.

Candor is often mistaken for conceit because people aren’t used to it and can’t handle it when they come face to face with it. Gods, Gangsters & Honor is excellent, baring the behind-the-closed-doors realm of showbiz and its inhabitants.

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