Thursday, 17 November 2011

Chasing the Dragon: The Life and Death of Marc Hunter - Extract

The following is an edited extract from Chasing the Dragon: The Life and Death of Marc Hunter by Jeff Apter (Hardie Grant Books).

He had it all—the heroin chic thing before it was chic, the scars, the swagger, an incredible stage presence. He was a really intelligent, funny, talented man who enjoyed life and thought it was there to be enjoyed. He chose to take big bites.

-James Reyne

During the research for this book, I was related stories of a family man given to lengthy benders, and of a great singer who was reluctant to enter the studio. ‘Marc had the incredible ability to create a parallel reality,’ a friend of his told me. ‘It always came as something of a shock to him when people would shake their heads and say, “Boy, you really fucked that up.” ’

For much of Hunter’s life, he seemed torn between the hedonistic lure of the pop world and the stark realisation that he was trapped in an often facile, remarkably shallow business. Perhaps this cynical, well-read and eloquent man was a little too smart for rock-and-roll. He could see straight through the facade of celebrity and stardom, yet he loved the spotlight. Marc was the kind of person who could readily negotiate his way through a debate on the merits of free will versus chaos theory while ‘comfortably wading in the gutter of [seedy Sydney venue] the Manzil Room’, in the words—and sometimes the company—of writer Anthony O’Grady. He once became involved with a scheme to float zeppelins over Mexico City in an attempt to clean up the ozone, yet he smoked like a chimney. Was he conflicted? You bet.

Mike Caen, a guitarist in Dragon’s final tour of duty, wasn’t the only person to note that Hunter reminded him of legendary louche actor Peter O’Toole. ‘Marc’s wonderful side was very good and his bad side was pretty bad. When he was in a bad mood he could be a real prick.’ Such as the occasion during a 1988 tour, when Hunter’s band mates looked on aghast as Marc emptied a bottle of beer over the head of an over-zealous female fan—neither the first nor last time he’d do such a thing.

Hunter would sometimes regard press interviews as verbal warfare. ‘You expect me to answer that?’ he would snarl at some under-prepared journo. ‘What kind of question is that?’ Then he’d flash a smile and all was forgiven—and forgotten.

Signed copies of Chasing the Dragon: The Life and Death of Marc Hunter are available at Shearer's Bookshop.

You can see a video interview with Jeff Apter here.

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