Clothes were thrown across the room with reckless recklessness after a night of passion with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.
But songwriter-to-the-stars Holly Knight soon runs out with rock royalty after she accidentally sets off the panic alarm in her home.
New Yorker Holly, 66, who wrote ’80s hits including Tina Turner’s The Best, Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield, Patty Smyth’s The Warrior, Bon Jovi’s Stick To Your Guns and Aerosmith’s Rag Doll, is now releasing a comprehensive memoir I Am The Warrior is about her years of sex and rock and roll in the music industry.
She also reveals trysts with Kiss singer Gene Simmons, Every Time She Goes Far From Her Heart Paul Young and rocker Daryl Hall, tells how she turned down Rod Stewart’s chat line and remembers what it was like touring with What Love Got To Do with singer Tina – who wrote Nine to her. songs.
She laughs, telling The Sun: “My whole life is surreal, I have to squeeze myself in and realize it wasn’t someone else. The ’80s were one of the last decades of excess before sequels.
“I wasn’t just a groupie putting another notch on my belt, I was living, and you’re supposed to do crazy things when you’re young.
“Don’t be embarrassed, I own it. It was fun. All of my best friends love hearing this stuff and said they would do the same.”
“The Quiet Trio”
Detailing months of Steven’s infamous flirtation with Aerosmith’s Ms. Steven, Holly told The Sun about “forgetting he was a rock star” during four-hour phone calls and thinking of him as just a “fun, nice guy”. In her book, she writes, things turned sexual, after he revealed a dream in which she had “shaved a certain part” of her body, leaving him “bald as an eagle”.
While working on Aerosmith’s 1987 hit, Rag Doll, Holly was shocked when the American rock band hired models to “play bongos on their bare asses” for the record, she writes. The anonymous ladies got a nod on the album cover with the note, “Thanks to the Flesh Bongos.”
After dropping Holly out one night and then returning to her hotel, she told The Sun, Stephen planted a “big, fat, sexy kiss” on her lips but she pulled away, fearing damage to her career. She says, “It wasn’t his style that made him such a good kisser but his physical attributes. He has big, plump lips. While I rejected him that night, things started months later.”
The fling happened at her Los Angeles home, when a jam session ended with them heading upstairs. Holly writes: “The truth is, at one point when we were making music in my studio, I knew we were going to end up on my bedroom floor. It was inevitable, given our strength as each other. Stephen is a delicious kisser. As for the rest, it will have to be You have to use your imagination.”
But as she leads Stephen to her room, Holly accidentally kicks a box containing her panic alarm, which then silently sends out a distress signal for 45 minutes. She writes: “Suddenly, through my open bedroom door, I saw a beam of flashlights bouncing off my walls.”
It is one of the “surreal and turbulent moments” in her life that she loves to recount to her friends. But after that night, she tells The Sun, she won’t see Stephen for 20 years, and while she wonders what it could be, she “trusts the universe’s plan.” She adds, “If I had a crush on him, I might have wanted to drive a stake into his heart? He was notoriously promiscuous.”
She wrote that it was one of many adventures after finding her “tribe” as a songwriter and musician. She also performed in the Eighties pop rock group Device, played keyboards with Spider and released her own self-titled album in 1988.
Her choice of career was raised by her parents, hospital workers, and her grandparents, both surgeons, Jews who fled Nazi Germany in 1935. Holly first played the piano at the age of four and found rock and roll an escape from her “capricious” mother. At the age of 15, she ran away from home with a 20-year-old musician.
Years down the road, that relationship ended, and by attending parties, she fell into the music crowd, before joining bands.
She writes that her big break came after she was introduced to Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley—with whom she had a “very quiet” trio—and later played keyboard with the band during a recording session. She writes about celebrity trysts: “I was curious as to whether sex with a rock star felt any different than mere mortals. Truth be told, it didn’t get better and it didn’t get worse.”
She also wrote that she got into confrontations with Jane Simmons, who had an “annoying way of staring up and down my body” and reused the chat line after trying it on her. She called him “Dracula”. They bond when Holly “puzzles” him with a question about the 1977 Italian horror film Suspiria after he says he knows everything and is a “human encyclopedia”.
One night, their friendship becomes something more when she stops by his high-rise Manhattan apartment and they sleep together.
She writes: “We both wanted what we wanted in the moment, and without much thought, we ended up in his huge bed.
“It was kind of lacking I’m sure of it. It’s something I laugh and cringe about now that I’ve actually slept with Ice. Rock and roll. Lust. Chance. Stupid little dogs.”
The ’80s was the era of big hairstyles, bigger egos, and the motto was “work hard, play hard”—but with some musicians, that rarely gets the job done.
While writing the lyrics to Rod Stewart’s 1986 hit Love Touch, Holly recalls her inability to get the singer to focus and help him focus.
She writes: “Instead of contributing ideas, Rod kept telling jokes and announcing it was time to take another break. The kind that included your nose.”
Ungrateful and poorly paid
When they got “higher and louder” in Holly’s home studio, she wrote, she became frustrated and ended the collaboration because he didn’t contribute anything.
She told The Sun: “It was the ’80s, either sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – and it wasn’t two of them, we were all sticking things up our noses. I wanted him to stop riding and I’m surprised I had the balls to tell him I was going to finish it on my own.”
But drugs weren’t Rod’s only distraction – his seductive advances were later rejected by Holly. While in the limo with her, he asks her, “Do you think I’m hot?” – the name of his 1978 song. Holly writes how she responded: “You’re not my type and I’m not yours. I’m not blonde and I don’t have long enough legs.
They never slept together and their friendship soured when Rod said his 1986 song Love Touch, which Holly co-wrote, was “one of the silliest” he’d ever sung. She responded that it was his biggest hit in six years, charting at number six in the US.
She told The Sun years later, at the premiere of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical in London’s West End, they made up, with Holly describing it as “fun and mischievous” as ever.
But her work has often been thankless and poorly paid, while some of her artists have gone on to win Grammy Awards.
Among her hits were Tina Turner’s (Simply) Better, Invincible and Better Be Good to Me, which led to a long friendship — born in a proper rock’n’roll way.
Moments after the pair met, in a limousine near Heathrow Airport, she wrote that Holly had directed the singer’s “body tats” – after being asked: “Holly, do you have nice tits?” In an introduction to Holly’s memoir, Tina acknowledges that The Best was “a song that carried me around the world” and was “a rare treasure – a world anthem”. She wrote: “Holly, I’ve said it to you before, say it again, you are simply the best.”
In 1988, Holly was voted Best Songwriter in a Rolling Stone magazine poll, and by 2013 she was made the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Holly feels proud hearing her songs played but is disappointed that her dream of solo success never materialised.
She told The Sun: “My job is one of the best in the world, but giving thanks is rare. Singers often perpetuate the legend that they wrote a song. I got used to it and instead smile to myself whenever I hear a song I wrote at the grocery store.” .
“I enjoy writing, I would do it whether I made a living at it or not, so in many ways I’m lucky.”
In fact, Holly told The Sun that she’s always preferred “work and flight” to “final destination” — and it’s clear that her trip is unlike any other.
- Holly Knight’s book, I’m the Warrior: My Crazy Life Writing The Hits and Rocking the MTV Eighties, is published by Permuted Press and is available for pre-order for £19.99.
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