By Leah Hocking
Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It’s a phrase often used to describe the music scene in the 1970s, but it also aptly sums up the book Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The novel tells the story of a fictional band who shot to fame in the late 1970s, releasing a best- selling album and embarking on a sold-out world tour before abruptly splitting up. Told in the rather unique style of interview transcripts, the book provides an oral history of the band’s rise and fall, along with revealing the mystery behind their infamous break-up.
Since its release in 2019, the book has spurred much success: it’s a national bestseller, has won the 2019 Goodreads Choice Award for historical fiction, and the 2020 Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award. After being chosen for Reese Witherspoon’s March 2019 book club pick, it was announced that the book was also being adapted into an Amazon Prime series by Witherspoon’s production company ‘Hello Sunshine’, starring Riley Keough, Sam Claflin, and Suki Waterhouse.
Daisy Jones & The Six is Reid’s second delve into the historical fiction genre after the success of her 2017 book The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (which you should definitely read if you haven’t already!) which follows a similar narrative style of the fictional 1960s Hollywood starlet Evelyn Hugo recounting her life story to a journalist. Reid seems to have found her niche with these retrospective tales of fame and glamour, but what specifically made Daisy Jones & The Six into such a phenomenon?
Much of the story is set against the backdrop of late-60s and mid-70s Los Angeles, following wild-child and aspiring singer Daisy Jones, along with the up and coming rock-band The Six. Both artists are relatively successful in their own right, but it’s not until Daisy is invited to join the band that they are really propelled into super-stardom. In essence, the book is a love letter to the 1970s: an era of rock music, the rise of disco (exemplified in the book by the character Simone), and sold-out stadium shows. It also successfully captures the much-loved 1970s aesthetic: sunny California full of bangles and bell-bottoms.
If you scroll through reviews for the book on the popular review site Goodreads, you’ll find that many of the glowing, four and five-star reviews have been left by people in their 20s or 30s, people who weren’t even alive during the 70s. It was also one of my personal favourite books that I read last year, despite the fact that I wasn’t even born until 3 decades after the era in which the book was set. So why was the book such a hit? The simple fact is that nostalgia sells. Perhaps even more so when you weren’t around to experience it the first time.
If you’re like me, you grew up listening to some of the most popular 70s bands like Aerosmith and Fleetwood Mac, hearing the tales of their feuds and fallouts, the affairs, the drugs, and the hotel-trashing. Packed into its 400 pages, Daisy Jones and The Six gives us everything we’d expect from a 70s rock band: sex, drugs, bandmate feuds, quickie marriages and even quicker divorces, and even a few babies along the way too.
None of us know what it’d be like to be part of a famous and wildly successful rock band during the 70s, so the book provides a riveting insight into a life that we can only dream of. As a reader, we follow the creation of the band, their ups and downs, their struggles with fame, and then their ultimate end, all of which is recalled by band members themselves, colleagues, family, and friends. The writing style makes it feel as though you’re watching a real music documentary, and the construction of both the story and characters is so visceral that you’re left thinking the band must be real, and perhaps even hopelessly googling that iconic Aurora album cover. Packed in amidst all this is a classic will-they-or-won’t-they relationship between lead singers Billy Dunne and Daisy Jones, which seems reminiscent of the dynamic between Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood which captivated fans during the 70s. As Daisy Jones & The Six was inspired by Fleetwood Mac, whose tumultuous inner- workings became an object of much fascination to the public, the book seems the closest thing to a juicy tell-all memoir we’ll ever get.