Miss O'Dell - The Rock Chick Next Door Living a Rock and Roll Fantasy
By Kathy Wheeler, Beatle-fans.com
Imagine being swept back into the world of Rock and Roll during the late 1960s through the 1970s and becoming close to the best musicians of the time…. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, CSNY and others. Chris O'Dell lived a life most people could only imagine in their wildest dreams. A down-to-earth American girl, who finds herself in a world full of bright lights and big stars. She has had songs written about her by Leon Russell and George Harrison. The B-side of his single "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" is a song called "Miss O'Dell", a catchy little giggly country number George wrote when she kept standing him up when they were supposed to meet up while he was in town. At the time she was having some difficulty keeping it all together due to constantly trying to find the right combination of drinking, coke and pills. That is but one of the stories in the facinating new rock memoir: "Miss O'Dell: My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and the Women They Loved."
Miss O'Dell tells her story starting with meeting and befriending Derek Taylor of Apple Records and taking a chance and going to London on a whim and making herself a place as a valued employee at Apple, working her way up from scrapbooking and running for lunch to becoming an assistant to various executives there, until mean old Mr. Klein (booooo! hisssss!) dismantles it. She is present for some pretty big moments of rock-n-roll history such as the Beatles rooftop concert, singing the na-nas in Hey Jude, being part of the historic first benefit rock show, The Concert for Bangladesh, witnessing the George/Patti/Eric go-round, and being at Eric and Patti's wedding. She became close friends with Maureen Starkey and Pattie Boyd and lived with George and Pattie Harrison at Friar Park for a spell, along with the Hare Krishnas at one point. She tells how she fell hard for Leon Russell, followed him back to the States, and lived with him during a roller coaster romance before going back to London.
Chris O'Dell became one of the first, if not the first, female rock tour managers and toured with The Rolling Stones, Dylan's Rolling Thunder tour, CSNY, John Denver, Linda Ronstadt, Queen, and others. She was the mysterious girl pictured on the back of the Stones Exile on Main Street. She played gopher a lot, whether it was for drugs for the Stones or Bob Dylan's harmonicas, and lived the tough life on the road with several bands and catered to their every whim. She even participated in a couple love triangles, being cast as the one down the hall in the Joni Mitchell song, "Coyote" which was about their affair with Sam Shepherd during a Dylan tour. Chris may even have helped destroy Ringo's marriage to Maureen, one of her best friends.
As someone who has befriended and partied with so many famous people, Chris O'Dell shares her adventures in the madcap world of sex, drugs and rock and roll without being too raunchy or disrespectful of our idols. There are, however, times where you wish she would dig deeper and tell you more. I probably need to read Pattie Boyd's book "Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me" to get a fuller picture. One thing that kinda struck me as odd was that Chris had to pretty much pinky swear not to sleep with George before Patti would let her come close…. But I guess in that world, it made perfect sense, and once she was in, she was really in as a BFF.
Chris O'Dell lets us look over her shoulder at the people behind the music we know and love. She gives us a glimpse inside the world of rock during a very historic era. You see her as an insider, not a groupie out to bed the biggest names in rock and roll. She is likable and seems to be both the luckiest and unluckiest gal in the world. You find that rock stars aren't the only ones who struggle with keeping their addiction demons in check or make terrible messes of their love lives. She was right there doing it too, while on her seemingly endless cycle of self-destruction. The storytelling in the book is neither braggy nor preachy, and you find yourself rooting for the girl to find a nice man and live happily ever after. When she finally meets and marries a man who appears to be Prince Charming, an English aristocrat, he turns out to be an addict too… so that was a false start to her happy ending. She does eventually end up cleaning herself up for good and finding herself. Read the book and see if she ever meets her prince and ends up happily ever after. Chris O'Dell is now a licensed substance abuse counselor in Arizona.
Chris O'Dell certainly has an interesting story to tell and this book should be required reading for any Beatle-fan or student of rock and roll history.
George Harrison's song, Miss O'Dell is about Chris O'Dell
In the Joni Mitchell song, "Coyote" the woman down the hall refers to Chris O'Dell.