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"The Prettiest Star: Whatever Happened to Brett Smiley?" by Nina Antonia

The Prettiest Star - Nina Antonia

This book was recommended to me by Mark, after we discovered a shared love of (amongst other things) Glam Rock. I was vaguely aware of Brett Smiley because one of his songs, the wonderful "Va Va Va Voom" appears on the equally wonderful compilation album "Velvet Tinmine". 

What I did not realise was that Brett had also inspired this book, and that an album he recorded around the same time as "Va Va Va Voom" also finally saw the light of day in 2004 - the same year this book was published.

This is the first book I've read by Nina Antonia, despite being interested in the subjects of her other books (Johnny Thunders, Pete Perrett, and the New York Dolls), and I enjoyed her personal style. She puts herself firmly in the narrative, so much so that it is as much about her own life as Brett Smiley's life. Both stories are compelling.

Brett's brief flirtation with fame started as a child actor in a stage production of "Oliver!". Later, as an 18 year old, he was discovered by Andew Loog Oldham, which finally resulted in the release of the "Va Va Va Voom" single in the UK. As part of the publicity for the record, Brett appeared on the Russell Harty Show. This can be viewed on YouTube and is well worth watching if anything I have written sounds interesting.

The single did not chart and that was the end of Brett's chances of achieving the fame he assumed was an inevitability. One person who never forgot Brett, or that appearance on Russell Harty, was Nina Antonia. His appearance had a profound effect on her.

Nina's own early life was not easy, and talismanic figures like Brett Smiley helped her to cope. I really enjoyed this interesting and well written book. A lot happens to both Brett and Nina, and both finally attain some hard earned insights and wisdom. 

For fans of Glam Rock, Brett's 1970's Glam album "Breathless Brett" is wonderful and well worth acquiring. The reissued CD is now very expensive however the album can be downloaded for a far more reasonable price.