I managed to grab ten minutes with Kevin Kennedy in-between shows at the Dominion Theatre where he is currently starring in Ben Elton’s "We Will Rock You".
I began by asking “our Curly” how long it took him to write his long awaited autobiography, “The Street To Recovery”.
The book I started two years ago and it was going really well and it’s easy to write the very fun stuff. But when it came to the stuff where you really had to, kind of, admit what your life’s been like, that wasn’t so easy. I think if that had been easier then the book would have been written a lot quicker, but once I’d finished the fun stuff I then had to write the horrible stuff and that slowed the process down because I wasn’t very comfortable doing it.
I’m not surprised but it has got a cracking prologue!
Well yeah, my idea was to start it at the rock bottom I was at; not only as a creative device but to bring in the reader as well so they’d want to find out what happened next.
And what did you discover about yourself?
I discovered that although these things are supposed to be cathartic I didn’t find it cathartic at all, I just got very angry with myself and kept getting cross because I thought, why couldn’t I see it coming? Why was I being so ridiculous? But then again that is the nature of addiction. I’m very tolerant of others but not too tolerant of myself but I suppose that’s something I’ve just got to work on.
Did you use music as an aid to memory; to transport you back to a particular time?
Yes I did actually; a lot of country music to remember the stuff in Nashville – I started listening to more Steve Earle; a bit more Lyle Lovett, which really got me going in the first place; which really got me linked in to country music. Plus I did a lot of talking to people that I knew from around that time – especially Stan [the Man! A singer and Kevin's yellow suit wearing companion in Nashville]. When I went through the stuff with Stan he was like, “I don’t remember half of that!” but then it all started coming back to him so I knew I was being pretty accurate.
How much input did Clare [Kennedy – his wife] have into the book and the writing process?
None at all… I think that when you’re writing your biography the only input has to come from you - and somebody who doesn’t know you very well. I got a guy in called Humphrey who read my stuff and then suggested ways of putting it all together and because he didn’t know me very well he was looking at it totally cold which I think you need when you’re writing something like this.
I think some people will be shocked at just how ill you were; did you worry about laying yourself so bare in that way?
I think if you’re going to do this sort of thing you might as well do it properly. The only thing I was worried about was… well I decided I wasn’t going to drop anyone else in it except me, so once I’d made that decision then it wasn’t difficult at all because I knew I just had to tell the truth otherwise there wouldn’t be any point in doing it.
What was it like to play a character so woven into the fabric of the British consciousness - as Curly was?
When you play something like that, to you, it’s just a job and you do the best you can and do the job you’re paid for, and that’s what I was doing. And later on of course; when you look back and people talk about what you’ve done very fondly then I’m immensely proud and I’m immensely proud of all the stuff I did with Coronation Street; I thought it was very funny; witty; hard-hitting; beautifully written and a joy to do because it was so beautifully written.
You got a lot of support from your parents; do you think you’d supportive of your children if they wanted to become jobbing actors?
Yeah, I will support my children in whatever they decide to do and I’ve told them that their experience of daddy working is, fortunately, at the top end of the profession and if you are at the top, or near the top, of this profession then it can be very glamorous but it’s all hard work. But I told them; if you’re not at the top it can be very very difficult.
So you just gave them a dose of realism about it?
Have you read Morrissey’s autobiography; I noticed yours has mention of Johnny Marr and his, Coronation Street?
No I haven’t, I don’t think Morrissey would’ve mentioned me in it (laughs). I’ve got it but I haven’t read it. I’ll save that for my holidays I think.
|Any excuse for a picture of these two!|
I’ve got to ask about all the speculation; are you returning?
At the moment, as far as I know, there are no plans to bring Curly back to Coronation Street and that’s as far as I know. It’s no secret that I’d like to do more and if that happens I’ll be very pleased and if it doesn’t then that’s life and I’ll just get on with what I’m doing.
Well you’re doing something that you love which is music and theatre anyway.
Do you think the positive outcome from your story will inspire other people in recovery?
Well I hope so because they wanted me to write this story straight away and for financial reasons that would’ve been a very wise move but I didn’t have the first idea about this disease, or the first idea about me, and I had to gain a knowledge of what was affecting me and so it took fifteen years for me to really get a handle on what had happened to me.
Now you’ve got to know that I wrote this book for two reasons: for my children to read it and to help someone. This is the way it works with this disease, it’s all done by talking about it and not keeping it to yourself. And if someone gains something from this then I think that’s a bonus and I’d be very happy.
What is – or who are - “The Anonymous People”?
The Anonymous People is coming from America. At the moment, in this country and in America, we seem to be focussing on the problem rather than the solution – you look on the television and there’s Drunken Brits Abroad or you look at the news and they’ve got film crews out in the city centres on a Saturday at eleven o clock showing the problem; Anonymous People is the solution because there are millions of people who combat this disease on a daily basis and this is them; this is their voice and they’re saying, “this is possible” and it’s a very positive look at an antidote to what we’re seeing. Recovery is possible, very possible, and millions of people have recovered from addictions across the world.
And with that off he went off to prepare for his second performance of We Will Rock You of the day.
Kevin Kennedy: actor; singer; writer; musician; husband; father; director of Addiction Management UK Ltd and positive role model for recovery.
The Street to Recovery is published in hardback by Paperbooks and is available online and in-stores.
Thanks to Clare Kennedy and Lucy Chamberlain at Legend Paperbooks
Kevin Kennedy: The Anonymous People trailer
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