Let Me Entertain You
"They (Take That) were so overworked I don't think he was particularly well. He was extremely run down. I sometimes think that had Nigel Martin Smith said they could all have four months off it might have lasted longer. They all badly needed a break." Pete Conway
Let Me Entertain You was the first official Robbie Williams book, produced on the cusp of Robbie's success after leaving Take That. By this point, many a music journalist had written him off as being ‘famous for being famous'. But, guns a blazing, Robbie had pulled the epic ‘Angels' out of the bag and, as a result, 1998 equalled success of titanic proportions.
Jim Parton was hand-picked to write the book, selected "against intense competition for his complete ignorance of Rock'n'Roll, and a life-long love of classical music, but also for his open mind" and took the chance to offer the first official insight into Robbie's life.
In the book, Robbie aptly describes his first year away from Take That as "like going to a new year's eve party and not coming back until new year's eve the next year". After years of crushing schedules and drug and alcohol addiction, Let Me Entertain You explains the truth behind the Take That split, through to his infamous appearance at Glastonbury with Oasis, and concludes with stories symbolic of his new found credibility.
On the aftermath of Take That:
"When his current management, Tim Clark and David Enthoven of IE Music, first took him on, they described a beaten, cowed young man. 'Like a horse that's been abused and doesn't trust the people sent to look after him any more. I'd be chippy for a bloody long time if I'd felt repressed like that. I mean, if he'd felt able to breathe in Take That it might have been different, but he really did feel suppressed, like leaving an iron bar on top of a champagne cork.'"
"Gig gatecrashing is a bit of a speciality. 'It was spur of the moment. I was with Oasis doing Top Of The Pops. They were doing Top Of The Pops, I was just hanging out and I was completely off my trolley. I just decided to take myself off for a walk and ended up on the EastEnders set where I said, "Can I be an extra." So he has a Hitchcock-style vanishingly quick cameo appearance on EastEnders to his credit, sitting in the bar taking a phone call."
On drugs and friendships:
"The end of 1996 and first half of 1997 were spent making Life Thru A Lens. The first single from it was released on April 14th, and was followed by two others before the album itself came out at the end of September.
"Meanwhile, Robbie agreed that he should sort himself out and get into rehab, going to Clouds House in Wiltshire for six weeks in June and July. He was allowed out for one day in the middle of a video shoot, and at the end went straight onto Top Of The Pops for the release of 'Lazy Days'.
'Last year, when I left rehab, I had to break with all my friends. But when I was taking drugs I didn't have any real mates. What I think of as a mate now is someone you can talk to when you're not pissed. If I can't talk to you unless I'm drunk and you can't talk to me when I'm not drunk, that's not right is it?'
'It's not that they were leading me astray either. Nobody leads you astray, but people are more than accommodating in helping you with your own self-destruction; no one leads you astray, you do it yourself.'
'I didn't know how to stop drinking. I couldn't do any work, I wanted to be writing songs with Guy, or singing Angels, and it wasn't going to happen if I looked the way I did and presented myself in the fashion I did."
On 'friends' selling stories to the press:
Back in the bus some groupies have gathered (male ones unfortunately), Guy's two brothers and another bloke who is telling Robbie what a loyal friend he is. 'I could have sold the story about Nicky for fifteen grand, I could have, but I didn't Robbie...' He'd have got a few hundred quid tip-off fee. Five hundred tops from News of the World. Half that amount from Matthew Wright. A couple of grand if he'd been able to supply pictures of the couple kissing. It would have been more interesting had he been Robbie's homosexual lover, and had been prepared to sell a 'kiss-and-tell', worth fifty grand at least. But there aren't many stories about Robbie to come out. He's so terrified of being caught he just admits to everything. So you've read it all."
"Plenty of tasty photos of the cheeky chappie that should get his fans moist enough to seal envelopes, including a semi-naked shot that reveals he's somewhat hirsute in the groin area. Either that or he's carrying a poodle down his pants..."
"With 95 pages of pure Robbie Williams, you can bet your ass that we were drooling over this particular publication. Released by Virgin to coincide with the launch of Robbie's second solo album, this is 'The Official Book', which means it won't be full of the kind of scurrilous gossip that we thrive on. However, when it's a book about Robbie, it's not like we're going to actually buy it for the words anyway..."
"Robbie Williams's story seems like a perfect subject for a book: natural show-off joins boy band, feels trapped, goes off rails in haze of drink and drugs, gets himself together and out-sells the 'talented one' in his former band..."