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Bibliophile | Tana Douglas reflects on life in the music biz with 'Loud'

Loud
by Tana Douglas
ABC Books

Tana Douglas was 16 years old when she took her first job as a roadie with AC/DC after running away from her home at the age of 15. Tana worked alongside some of the music industry’s biggest names in three countries during her career of more than 30 years, and reminisces “If it doesn’t kill you, it’s one hell of a way to make a living”.

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It was 1973 when she decided to go to Nimbin with some other young people and live as a hippie. She then ended up in Sydney’s Kings Cross mixing with some very dangerous people before stumbling across a job where you got paid and got to travel as well.

This skinny, gangly kid with no boobs and all arms and legs dressed like the boys and drank like the boys, but she also worked hard like the boys. Totally unaware of the global feminist movement even though she didn’t wear a bra, she was striving for equality on a daily basis without politics ever being on her radar.

Learning on the road, she graduated from roadie to sound engineer to lighting expert to logistics specialist and ended up in a world of “fun and interesting people”. Just to name-drop a few – Suzi Quatro, David Essex, Status Quo, Leo Sayer, Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney, The Who, Iggy Pop and Elton John.

The work was exhilarating but life was a surreal bubble, living from one hotel room to another, far away from the rest of the world, but when she turned 21, Tana realised that she had to keep moving to “stave off feeling the lack of self-worth and depression that always lurked just below the surface”.

With the technical side of the music industry continually changing, Tana counters the inaccurate perception that roadies are “a bunch of wild, tough and not necessarily talented yobs”. Surviving on the all-male world of touring, she climbed to the top and live to tell the tale – even though the In Memoriam at the end of her book is statement to the many who didn’t.

Thanks to her pioneering determination, the music industry touring workforce now has about 12 per cent females and there are organisations such as SoundGirls in the US, Women in Live Music in Europe and CrewCare in Australia.

Lezly Herbert


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