Books & Literature

Book Review: Keith Urban, by Jeff Apter

BIOGRAPHY: A comprehensive biography that documents how Keith Urban lived out his childhood dream – and the price he’s had to pay to reach the top.

A highly detailed account of the Aussie boy who became a Nashville superstar.

Keith Urban: His Amazing Journey from Daydreamer to Superstar is the latest biography from prolific Aussie music biographer, Jeff Apter. Jeff first wrote about Urban in his 2009 biography, Fortunate Son – The Unlikely Rise of Keith Urban.

A lot has changed in the 13-year gap—for both Keith and Jeff. Both have been prolific in their artistic output, and the scope of change for one (Keith) has seen a new point of view emerge for the other (Jeff). This volume takes a more positive standpoint, as can be seen in the two differing subtitles, and provides a detailed chronicle of the multi-decade, winding path that has made Keith Urban a Nashville superstar and household name.

From a very early age, it was the dream of Keith Urbahn—as his birth certificated surname is spelled—to reach the pinnacle of country music achievement: becoming a name in Nashville. This dream and its potential for realisation have been recognised and acknowledged by some of the world’s Country music legends. These include, but are by no means limited to, Slim Dusty, Glenn Campbell and Mary Martin.

Urban started his career within Australia’s Country music scene, before heading to the US to try for the fame that eluded so many other Aussies. The leap of faith didn’t come without a personal cost; drug and alcohol addiction took a hold and resulted, over the ensuing years, in a number of bouts in rehab. Fame and positive fortune have been Urban’s since his unexpected marriage to Hollywood Icon, Nicole Kidman, along with Nashville recognition, various reality TV opportunities and the dream family life that his brother had achieved many years before. Interspersed with a further bout of rehab and the passing of both his father and father-in-law, life has never been better for Keith Urban, but true fame and recognition in Australia continues to evade him.

Apter’s biography is filled with detail about Urban’s journey, with a particular focus on the attendance numbers and financial return increases over the length of his multi-decade career. Alongside this detail is a veritable who’s who of Australian and international Country music names, specifying those who contributed and collaborated with Keith to ensure his dream was made reality.

The last five years have seen Jeff chronicle the lives of the Young Brothers—Angus, Malcolm, and George—as well as AC/DC front man, Bon Scott, Silverchair’s Daniel Johns, and the rocker cum theatrical musician Jon English. His decision to return to an earlier subject, and a track switch from Rock to Country, is a curious but potentially timely one.

As Apter points out, despite his recognisable personal status thanks to his marriage and appearance on the Australian version of The Voice, Keith Urban remains an unsung (pun intended) hero of Australian music. Perhaps this tome will finally see it addressed.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: March 2022
RRP: $32.99

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