Review: I’m Not With the Band by Sylvia Patterson

I'm with the bandTitle: I’m Not With the Band (A Writer’s Life Lost in Music)

Author: Sylvia Patterson

Pages: 448 Pages

Publisher: Little Brown Book Group

The Blurb

This is a three-decade survivor’s tale … a scenic search for elusive human happiness through music, magazines, silly jokes, stupid shoes, useless blokes, hopeless homes, booze, drugs, love, loss, A&E, death, disillusion and hope – while trying to make Prince laugh, startle Beyoncé, cheer Eminem up, annoy Madonna, drink with Shaun Ryder and finish off Westlife forever (with varying degrees of success).

In 1986, Sylvia Patterson boarded a train to London armed with a tea-chest full of vinyl records, a peroxide quiff and a dream: to write about music, forever. She got her wish.

Escaping a troubled home, Sylvia embarks on a lifelong quest to discover The Meaning of It All. The problem is she’s mostly hanging out with flaky pop stars, rock ‘n’ roll heroes and unreliable hip-hop legends. As she encounters music’s biggest names, she is confronted by glamour and tragedy; wisdom and lunacy; drink, drugs and disaster. And Bros.

Here is Madonna in her Earth Mother phase, flinging her hands up in horror at one of Sylv’s Very Stupid Questions. Prince compliments her shoes while Eminem threatens to kill her. She shares fruit with Johnny Cash, make-up with Amy Winehouse and several pints with the Manics’ lost soul-man Richey Edwards. She finds the Beckhams fragrant in LA, a Gallagher madferrit in her living room and Shaun Ryder and Bez as you’d expect, in Jamaica.

From the 80s to the present day, I’m Not with the Band is a funny, barmy, utterly gripping chronicle of the last thirty years in music and beyond. It is also the story of one woman’s wayward search for love, peace and a wonderful life. And whether, or not, she found them.

The Review

As a one-time music reviewer, I was keen to read Sylvia Patterson’s book I’m Not With the Band – A Writer’s Life Lost in Music because if I’m truly honest it was all I’ve ever wanted; travelling around with bands, being there for the important things, the big events, the epic concerts. Sadly that wasn’t the life that I got. It is a shame but I had some good times with music. So I opted to live vicariously through Sylvia Patterson.

What an interesting ride.

Sylvia talks about these truly amazing events that she has seen, moments that she has been privy to with all the humility and humbleness of someone who just accepts this as the norm. For Patterson, it was. For this wide eyed reader I read each page with excitement…and admittedly, a little envy.

I’m Not With the Band – A Writer’s Life Lost in Music is a brilliant memoir of not just a person but a history of music that each and every one of us can relate to in some way or another. There are moments when some of the writing feels a little self indulgent – especially with the insider lingo – but it doesn’t take away from the truly amazing experiences that are fascinating to read about.

I’m Not With the Band – A Writer’s Life Lost in Music by Sylvia Patterson is available now.

For more information regarding Sylvia Patterson (@SylvPatterson) please visit

For more information regarding Little Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit

4 Stars

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