The greatest band that never existed: Daisy Jones and The Six review
July 12, 1979. Soldier Field Stadium, Chicago IL. On a seemingly normal date of their momentous Aurora world tour, Daisy Jones & The Six fall apart. What follows is their story, told by them, in their first interview nearly forty years after the band dramatically split up. It’s one of the most exciting stories in rock n roll.
There’s just one small problem though: it never actually happened.
Taylor Jenkins-Reid, the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, has produced a truly one-of-a-kind novel, euphoria for rock n roll fans.
Her 2019 book Daisy Jones & The Six centres around a fictional 1970s band of the same name, as they chart their course through the Los Angeles music scene and into superstardom. It’s an addictive, heartbreaking, and deeply engaging novel written exclusively in interview format, and you’ll wish it was all real.
The novel grounds itself in the stories of its protagonists. Lead singer Daisy Jones is a troubled, erratic young woman intoxicated by 1970s LA and the musical world that comes with it; she suffers heavily from drug addiction which threatens both her life and career numerous times throughout the story. Behind this chaotic life is a woman described as “breathtaking” – a vulnerable singer with an incredible voice and an addictive smile.
Juxtaposing Daisy is the band’s founder and perhaps (depending on your viewpoint) the book’s antagonist, Billy Dunne. Billy is a sullen, brooding, strong-and-silent singer and guitarist pursuing with ruthless determination his dream of becoming a music icon. Supporting Billy is his band, originally called The Dunne Brothers before rebranding to “The Six”: keyboardist Karen Sirko, guitarist Graham Dunne, bassist Eddie Roundtree, and drummer Warren Rojas.
When producer Teddy Price pairs Daisy and the band together, what follows is magic.
Despite early frictions, particularly between Daisy and Billy, the band goes on to produce the hit single ‘Look at Us Now (Honeycomb)’, before embarking on the world-famous album Aurora.
Behind the success are numerous tensions and divisions threatening at every turn to tear the band apart.
Jenkins-Reid does a marvellous job of conveying these tensions, whether it be Billy’s iron fist control over the band’s music or Karen and Graham’s will-they-wont-they romance, it’s a soap opera and a world-class drama rolled into one.
It won’t take long for any fan of 70s music to start spotting parallels between Jenkins-Reid’s creation and the legendary soft rock band Fleetwood Mac.
Daisy and Billy slot perfectly into the comparative roles of Fleetwood Mac frontman Lindsay Buckingham and singer Stevie Nicks. Jenkins-Reid herself has confessed that the story of how the seminal album Rumours was written heavily influenced her writing.
Of particular note for how effective it is in Jenkins-Reid’s narrative is how Billy and Daisy write songs for each other; often after an argument, the two would go away, writing scathing rants about each other and then forcing themselves to perform them on stage.
Nicks and Buckingham were known to do this, with timeless classics such as ‘Silver Springs,’ ‘Go Your Own Way‘, ‘Dreams’ and ‘The Chain’ all being about the frictions in Nick’s and Buckingham’s personal lives.
Whilst rather toxic and unhealthy, Buckingham has described the process of performing a song about how much you hate your partner to their face (in front of tens of thousands of fans) as “cathartic.” No doubt this inspired the novel, as many of the songs on Aurora reflect the difficulties in Dunne and Jones’ relationship.
Billy’s character deserves a conversation of its own. The frontman had a difficult upbringing; born to a single mother and left to raise his younger brother, Graham, music was Billy’s escape. As his success grew with his band, Billy gets caught up in the drinking and partying scene with disastrous consequences.
This struggle will follow Billy for the rest of the novel, and his life. It’s here that Jenkins-Reid is at her best. Billy’s character development is excellent and deeply moving, and no matter what you may think of him by the end, you can’t deny it was a fun journey watching him develop.
The TV Adaptation
Last month, Amazon Prime subscribers were graced with a ten-part TV adaptation directed by James Ponsoldt, Nzinga Stewart and Will Graham. The show stars Sam Claflin (Peaky Blinders, The Hunger Games) as Billy and Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road) as Daisy, alongside Suki Waterhouse (Karen), Josh Whitehouse (Eddie), Will Harrison (Graham) and Sebastien Chacon (Warren).
Perhaps controversially (considering this is a book review), I think this is a rare example of the adaptation exceeding the source material. The showrunners have improved on every aspect of the book from the tension between the bandmates to scenes full of vibrancy in a way the book simply cannot express.
There’s always a danger when writing a book about fictional music that you won’t quite be able to get the vibe of the band across, and the show has really displayed that the book is missing this aspect.
Composer Blake Mills does a wonderful job of bringing the songs to life and giving The Six a voice. The whole album is available on Spotify and is simply breathtaking.
Teased on social media for weeks now, the cast has been suggesting there may be a real-life world tour of Aurora with the cast of the show playing the band members and performing the songs as a band. It would certainly be possible.
The single ‘Look at us now (Honeycomb)’ has over 15,000,000 streams on Spotify, and in preparation for their roles, each of the cast actually learnt how to play their instruments, and yes, it really is Riley and Sam singing on the tracks (Riley is Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, after all.)
Although nothing concrete has been confirmed yet, Josh Whitehouse has teased the idea, posting a TikTok of him outside a recording studio saying “I’ve just arrived at a rehearsal studio… but we already finished the TV show… why would we be doing that?”
Safe to say, we haven’t seen the last of The Six just yet.