Moody, Micky-Snakes And Ladders: My Autobiography (Book Review)

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Author Micky Moody
Title: Snakes And Ladders: My Autobiography
Publisher: John Blake Books
Year: 2016
Reviewed: March 2019
Reviewed by: JP
Rating: 3/5

As of time of writing this review, Whitesnake have announced their new album FLESH AND BLOOD and released the first video and single.  In addition we are reading the bad news about the failing health of the original guitarist of Whitesnake, Bernie Marsden. I’ve had this book in my library for some time as it was published in 2016 and since Whitesnake, slow-poke fever is in the air, I felt this is as good a time as any to review the autobiography of the original guitarist for Whitesnake, Micky Moody.

SNAKES AND LADDERS is your standard paperback, published by the good people at John Blake books.  Coming in at a generous 340+ pages, the book also includes over a dozen rare photos printed on glossy plates in the middle of the book, as per the standard.

This is without a doubt one of the most humorous autobiographies I’ve ever read.  Not necessarily because of funny stories but the writing and delivery of Moody.  We have perhaps all heard of the infamous dry, British wit, and Moody encapsulates this to a tee. He makes so many jokes, it really adds a lot to what could be seen as a bit of a dull story.  I only say dull because, the vast majority of Moody’s autobiography goes into enormous detail about his musical career before Whitesnake.  Now, of course for me, the Whitesnake connection was the main selling point.  The first 218 pages are all pre-Whitesnake and stories of his admittedly long and prolific career as a seasoned and well-travelled session musician in bands like Tramline, Juicy Lucy, Snafu, Moody/Marsden, and Bob Young.  All of these bands of the 60’s and 70’s were just a bit before my time, hence my mild disinterest.

Moody must have a mind like a steel trap, although based on the tales of how much dope he smoked, it is more likely he was a meticulous record keeper.  If the names of rock musicians like, Terry Popple, Pete Soley, Colin Gibson, Tony Hymas, Graham Preskett, Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirks and dozens more, mean anything to you, you will love hearing all the old stories of all these old rock dogs, who at the time were quite hep.   It is almost like he was name-dropping but it does not come across like that because Moody over the decades worked with or crossed paths (or more likely drank with) all these people, who frankly, I have no idea who they are. That is my loss and ignorance, I suppose.

Another moment of caution perhaps for some readers is Moody’s choice of vocabulary. He uses many phrases that many (most?) North Americans might no be familiar with.  I’m from Canada and have a strong family connection to England so I recognized many of the words from over-the-pond, such as ‘blag’, ‘jumper’ and ‘legless’ but there were a few that had me stumped like, ‘ploat’ and ‘bloater’ and ‘liggers’.  The imagination boggles.   All in all Moody was, suffice to say, an extremely entertaining storyteller and wordsmith. One of the best!

The tales follow your standard chronological exploration of his admittedly huge amount of gigs and travels across the globe, and the countless tales of sex, drugs and rock and roll.  And dope.  Lots and lots of dope. Moody thankfully declines to get too explicit but does add enough spice to titillate.  The good stuff (ie, Whitesnake stuff) comes in the back-third and by and large he details an band of brothers touring, growing and enjoying the fruits of their not inconsiderable labours.  It all sounded rather fun!

I’m sure it was until perhaps, the band became so popular that money became an issue.  To his credit Moody does not slag his former band-mates but he does let it know that is was about money in the end. As many of us know, Coverdale relocated to America reinvented the band with young, good looking, hot shot musicians and sailed off into the multi-platinum sunsets of Lake Tahoe with his super-model wife and brand new Jaguar XJS.  Coverdale must have heard the old adage, ‘When you are young, play with people older than you, when you are old, play with people younger than you.’ All in all I wrapped up the book feeling satisfied.

As a matter of habit I tend to go to mid-80’s and later era Whitesnake for my listening, but when I was reading and enjoying this book I revisited the first several albums when they truly were a blues-based Hard Rock band, before the Geffen years and sweeping transformation. It was great to hear those old records with fresh ears after all those years and finally read the story behind the song ‘Belgian Tom’s Hat-Trick’. Look it up or use your imagination!   This book is a perfect companion piece and a blast from the past.