Marty Angelo had it all. He could in fact have been a poster boy for the Swinging ‘60’s. Heavily involved in the music scene as a promoter and manager he rubbed shoulders with many of the Lates and Greats. His friends and contemporaries read like a Who’s Who of rock legend – from Janis Joplin to Hendrix, Van Morrison, Lennon [who introduced him to heroin], to Elton [“He’ll never make it with a name like that”] John, he was at ground zero of the ‘The Scene’.

A native of Buffalo New York he left his home town early on to travel the world and to follow his passions – music, money, sex, booze and drugs – always on the lookout for the next fix and the next up and coming band to promote. He never could quite make the big time however. The brass ring kept slipping away no matter how hard he tried to grasp it or what he did, or how low he sunk to get it. He lived a wasteful and fully self-indulgent life of excess and even petty crime beginning even as a young child when he stole communion wafers from the local Catholic Church so that he could practice the Sacrament at home. He had to reach rock bottom like so many of us, including a lengthy stint in jail for dealing, to make him realize he was riding a train to nowhere – a self-destructive trip that would soon push him down to oblivion, like so many connected with the music scene of the time. He was full of unhappiness – nothing was ever enough to fill the void.

He was fortunate – and he would say ‘saved’ – by the fact that his family – and God – never gave up on him no matter what. His parents fed and supported him and even mortgaged their house to bail him out one last time. It was his sister who ultimately brought him to his senses by constantly bombarding him with Christian tracts and literature; hoping that he would eventually see the light and let the church gather him into the fold. After a period of resistance during which he literally and figuratively ‘hit the deck’ his conversion was complete. Like Christian in ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ he felt that a great burden had been lifted from his shoulders. When the police showed up at his door he felt only relief – so much so that he approached his upcoming prison sentence not with dread but with anticipation and showed up at the gate bearing suitcases full of bibles and teaching materials which he enthusiastically distributed to any inmate who would have them, including those of other faiths, like the Jews.

This is a small well written book – easily read in a day – which serves almost like the confessional for Angelo. If he wasn’t so focused on getting across his Christian message however it could also have been a fascinating account of life at the epicenter of the music industry from the 60’s on. He met and mingled with some of the greatest but provides us with only the smallest of snapshots plus a few tantalizing glimpses as if behind a curtain – but that is not what the book is about. He does not shy away from detailing any of his indiscretions, as embarrassing as they might have been, but his central message is that by Jesus Christ Shall You Be Saved. I enjoyed the book and found it uplifting, but as, admittedly, an agnostic, I found it somewhat disconcerting to be presented with little snippets and dire warnings from the Bible constantly inserted into the text. I also have some problem with ‘Born Again Christians’ like Angelo who make it their business to convert everyone in their path – even those of older and more established faiths – or those, like me, who prefer to make up their own minds about life, the universe and everything. I do not however doubt his sincerity – or his very 60’s message of Peace, Love and Forgiveness – for a moment – whatever gets you through the night…

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