Author: Way, Pete
Title: A Fast Ride Out Of Here
Publisher: Little Brown
Reviewed: June, 2018
For any rocker of a certain age, (say 40+) the image (imagined or otherwise) of Pete Way of UFO careening through the streets of London in his beat-up Jaguar, one hand on the wheel, the other on a bottle of Jack Daniels is pretty iconic. Hard Rock and Heavy Metal has no shortage of wild men but Pete Way really was perhaps one of the first widely recognized characters of hedonism. Even Sharon Osbourne kept Ozzy away from Pete Way because Way was a bad influence!
Now, we get the warts and all, tell all quintessential rock biography of the bassist of UFO. This standard paperback at 260 pages flows nicely. There are quite a few great photos on colour plates in a couple of sections in the book, most of the shots from the glory days. I always knew that UFO was big but I never realized how big and how many legendary tours they did. Rock and Metal historians often point to the 1984 Ozzy / Motley Crue North American tour as one of the more debauched tours of all time but people often forget that Pete’s band, Waysted was on that tour as well!
Pete comes across as very likeable, friendly and maybe none too bright. He is self admitted to be shall we say a lower caliber musician but what he lacks in chops he has made up for in decades of stamina and outrageous stage performance. His story is perhaps a bit conventional normal kid, hard working until he discovers sex, drugs and rock and roll. Girls were never his main focus but drugs were from a very early age. He freely admits he likes drugs and seems to have little to no remorse about his use nor display any attempt to control his addictions. He did try rehab but it never took. He actually hit rock bottom (I almost cringed when I typed that) when he was hospitalized for almost massive system failure from years of abuse. It is a tough story to read about the depths of his addiction but somehow he makes it interesting. He seems a bit nonchalant about the whole thing.
As a story is was unbeatable, his life is like watching a car accident; you can’t look away. I was entranced by his stories. The narrative is certainly emphasized and enhanced by many, many quotes from tons of people, family members, musicians, wives, industry people who all have, for the most part, nice things to say about him as a genuine and good person. People like Geddy Lee, Michael Schenker, Fast Eddie Clarke, Joe Elliot and more all contribute stories and anecdotes to the book. Way has rubbed elbows with rock royalty, or perhaps they have rubbed elbows with Pete Way!
I sound like a broken record but my common complaint about these sorts of books rises once again. The author and publisher choose to heavily emphasize the early days and completely gloss over the modern era. Like most rocker autobiographies this is woefully incomplete and glosses over literally decades of information.
As a side note: I spoke to a couple of colleagues about this horrible trend in publishing of ignoring the later-era of a bands/artists career in favour of a glorified look at the early days. A few people suggested that no one is interested in the later years of a band (like UFO) and a guy (like Pete Way) except the die-hard fans. I perhaps agree… BUT! Who is going to buy a book about Pete Way EXCEPT the die hard fans?! The answer is nobody! No one knows or cares who the guy is except fans of UFO. That IS the target audience, the die-hard fans. So they argument that no one wants to read about anything he had to do since 1976 is ludicrous. By omitting so much of the story he really does a disservice to the reader.
He glosses over pretty much everything from the end the band Waysted to today. The entire writing, recording, touring cycles of WALK ON WATER (1995), COVENANT (2000), SHARKS (2002), YOU ARE HERE (2004), THE MONKEY PUZZLE (2006) and both Mogg/Way albums, EDGE OF THE WORLD (1997) and CHOCOLATE BOX (1999) are virtually all skipped. Then everything else relating to music is relegated to second-rate importance in favour of horribly detailed stories about his extensive drug and alcohol abuse and subsequent diseases and ailments. If you want a good version of history I recommend Martin Popoff’s 2005 book about UFO, SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS. It doesn’t skimp on the detail.
With that rant aside, this really was a phenomenal look and cautionary tale about an addict in denial most of his adult life. He is a true survivor, six marriages, outliving two of his wives, fortunes gained, squandered and gained again, addictions and cancer and yet despite all of this circumstance one might call tragedy, he soldiers on virtually indestructible. A fast ride indeed!