Music publicist's memoir doesn't hold back--Match the rock stars with Keith Altham's comments from ''No More Mr. Nice Guy''

By David Browne
Updated March 24, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

We media types always catch flak for our supposed lack of respect for sensitive celebrities, so it was with great amusement that we perused No More Mr. Nice Guy!, a memoir by former British music publicist Keith Altham. The book, to date available only in the U.K. (Blake Publishing), consists of Altham’s open letters to former clients. Match the rock star with the hello-nasty comment.

A. ”Although the predominant impression was charm on two wheels, there was a strong ruthless streak.”

B. ”Your paranoia over the notion that the world was exploiting you can make things difficult…. For those puzzled by the plastic Tesco bag you sometimes clutch on stage, I can reveal it is not the groceries but the cash for appearing.”

C. ”I am deeply suspicious of superstars with a ‘nice’ image, but yours seems to be the real thing, or you should be up for an Oscar.”

D. ”Aging, emaciated white twig insects on a small stage, although I did notice you have grown a bicep.”

E. ”A talented but imageless group, you had little to capture the public’s imagination…”

F. ”You were intelligent, sensitive, and, I think, secretly knew that you had blown it…. You were never as gifted as you professed…”

G. ”What a talent. What a singer. What a songwriter. What a pain in the arse…. You are an impossible man…”

H. ”Be careful you do not let them turn you into a joke, or is it already too late?”

I. ”The man whose great hero was [Al] Jolson…although even he drew the line at stuffing himself in silk and tartan trousers and waggling his bum at the audience.”

1. The Rolling Stones 2. Sting 3. Rod Stewart 4. Van Morrison 5. Phil Collins 6. Billy Idol 7. Terence Trent D’Arby 8. Squeeze 9. Ray Davies

Answers: 1-D; 2-A; 3-I; 4-G; 5-C; 6-H; 7-F; 8-E; 9-B