A star-studded autobiography that hits all right notes.

By: Aug. 04, 2022

Review: TURN AROUND AND TAKE A BOW: MY MUSICAL LIFE  by Mike Dixon Mike Dixon is undoubtedly one of the British music industry's giants, with a career spanning over forty years in theatre, television and radio. During this time, he brushed shoulders with some of the elite artists of the 20th (and 21st) centuries, including Dame Shirley Bassey, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and Queen (to name but a few). Despite this roaring success, Dixon's biography, "Turn Around A Take A Bow: My Musical Life" is one of humility and heart.

The autobiography begins by exploring Dixon's early years in Plymouth, where an early love of music was piqued after listening to somebody play the organ at church. As Dixon states, "Anything musical seemed to hold a fascination over me, and I was soon to find out that music would permeate every part of my life in extraordinary ways".

In the arts world, there is often much discourse surrounding how much success can be attributed to natural talent, and how much hard work (the answer being a combination of both). For Dixon, it does seem that such a career was pre-determined when he noted how he doesn't recall how he learned to read music, but it was something that just came naturally to him.

While Dixon is now regarded as one of the most accomplished musical directors, readers may be surprised to learn that his first instrument of choice was the recorder. The rest, as they say, is history.

The autobiography is close to four-hundred pages long, and Dixon has buried himself deep into the archives to bring up career highlights, while also not being afraid to shy away from the low points. For example, after graduating from Trinity College of Music, Dixon's first brush in the West End occurred when he served as MD and arranger for the ill-fated, With A Little Help From My Friends at the Duke of York's Theatre. The 1981 production featured the music of the Beatles and ran for just twelve performances in total, after receiving disappointing reviews from critics.

Dixon's memoir also offers glimpses into the world of 'celebrity', with the odd whisper of backstage gossip from theatre shows and TV productions alike. Unlike in other memoirs, this is never salacious. These characters - familiar faces that we know and love; Tom Jones, Elaine Page, Michael Ball, and Phillip Schofield back before he swapped the "coat of many colours" for the This Morning sofa, are simply part of the fabric of his story and career.

Still, it is good to hear about the inner mechanisms of a production, the kind that the audience is not usually privy to. One particular story, where he escorted Andrew Lloyd Webber out of his own theatre, is both very funny and insightful.

The autobiography occasionally segues away from Dixon's career into his personal life, though these excerpts are few and far between. Perhaps this is a good thing; Dixon's career is an exciting one, and he has a lot to say about the entertainment machine. Furthermore, any more chapters would result in the book being simply too long (the details are already pretty densely packed in, making for sometimes heavy reading).

Dixon's writing style is relaxed and easy to follow. It often feels as though a friend is regailing you with stories of thier fascinating life. In summation, Turn Around and Take A Bow is a really interesting glimpse into a life from (slightly in front of) the stage - one that fans of musical theatre and aspiring musicians are sure to love.

Turn Around And Take A Bow: My Musical Life is published by Troubador Publishing and is available to buy Click Here

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